How I’ve learned to love

Believe me I have wished, and not just as a child, an annoying sibling would be spirited away to Timbuktu. Or that person sniffing and coughing next to me on the train were in outer space instead of contaminating my space.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, it is said. It’s true we would like that person much better if they were far away.

Yet, I want to suggest a different meaning for this familiar saying, and that is:

Long distance lets us rethink how we love.

Being apart stirs us to reflect on who and what we love. Remoteness causes us to ruminate on the amount we love.

I flew into Heathrow airport a week ago to spend a few days in central London. This is my old stomping ground and I stomped happily every moment of my time there—enjoying the noise, the busyness, the job prospects, art exhibitions, top-notch restaurants, and late nights with friends in a lively town.

My fondness has not dwindled. I don’t miss the traffic congestion or being squashed on the tube like a sardine, but I appreciate the rich history, endless variety and cultural diversity this capital city has to offer.

But, it’s the people I have come to treasure the most. Last week, I met up with two of my nieces. I walked in Hyde Park with my sister. We drank coffee in a West End cafe and chatted over lunch. We educated ourselves about Churchill at the Science Museum. I caught up with friends over dinner in the shadow of the Shard. Delicious food paled in significance to delightful company. I hugged my godson and listened intently to his ski trip escapades and employment experience in the city.

If it sounds blissful; it was.

From the other side of the pond I’m finally learning to love. Distance has been a good teacher.

From afar I now know:

Live love not aloof

It’s worth attempting to get along even if we don’t see eye to eye. Does it mean we always manage it? No, not at all. But, making the effort to love is better than no effort at all. Giving love is more important than withholding love.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Romans 12:18 (ESV)

Live love looking forward and not looking back.

Don’t think back with regret to what you should have done. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you made; look forward to blessing ahead. Don’t wait for absence—whether it is temporary or permanent—to be the time for remorse for what you could have done.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13 (ESV)

Put love into practice where pride often prevents.

Be the first to make that phone call. Put aside the rift and aim to do better next time to restore relations. Protect yourself from pain but always be open to improvement. And always appreciate the effort the other person has made.

Ask: If I was the other person, how would I like to be treated in this situation? Then behave in that way to others. Or: What would we enjoy doing together? Then meet in the middle.

Let each of you look not only to to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. Philippians 2:4 (ESV)

We all have relationships in our lives where we need to put love into practice—it never fails; it always wins.  How will you learn to love today?

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Linking up with Suzie Eller at #liveFree, Missional Women for #FaithFilledFriday, Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus, Christy Mobley at #RaRaLinkup, Holly Barrett at #TestimonyTuesday and Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart

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