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What's Love Got to Do With It?; Share It and See!

"And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13. "Love makes the world go round." At least that is what we have always heard. It seems the world has somehow lost this message in the hustle and bustle of everyday living. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12.

As the new year 2019 approached, I began thinking about resolutions. I briefly mentioned this to my children. My grown children immediately and forthrightly dismissed this concept as outdated and a waste of time, because they said that no one keeps resolutions. It was useless to argue the point. You see, many of my staunchest resolutions have fallen by the wayside. But, not willing to give up the need to be better at something in the new year, I decided I would come up with "focus." This was in direct response to my daughter's question to me about my plans for the new year. Of course, she wanted to know in what ways did I need to focus. Having to think on the spot, I explained that without focus, any goals set would indeed not be kept. And, yes it is a fact that some of my goals have faded as a result of not keeping them front and center. So, with the goal of "focus" now firmly established in my mind as a real target for 2019, I will prayerfully follow through on all my goals.

I was ending the year on a melancholy note. The daily news reporting and just life in general felt heavy. But, there was a song on the radio, that caught my attention; "Living My Best Life" by Lil Duval and Snoop Dogg. (Yes, can you believe it?). They are not shy with their words. Some of them may be a little difficult to listen to; one might even find some downright offensive, but there is a message. Mind you, I am not a great fan of rap music, but some of the lyrics spoke to me. "Living my best life, I ain't going back and forth with you. If you breathing, you achieving. You got a lot to be smiling for." So true.

Hope springs eternal; just being alive is a reason for optimism. Each day affords one the opportunity to change your life for the better. Further, even in the most meager of circumstances, there is good. Appreciate it.

It may sound corny, but the truth is what the world needs now is to collectively take stock and realize that we are the recipients of love. We have forgotten how to be grateful; to say thank you, and to spread this love. Of course, I speak for myself first and foremost. Love is a many splendored thing. Sounds wonderful as a lyric in a song, and by definition a lofty, grand, intangible object worth obtaining. Only, it is much more than that; its purpose is profound, deeper and meant to impact the very core of our being and move us to love and serve others. Love is analogous to a pearl of great price. God is love. I John 4:8. Our objective should be that we are appreciative of His love, and our goal should be that we share it with others.

We have, for so many varied reasons, devalued love by romanticizing and objectifying it to the point of being indescribable and out of reach. How then do we grasp the phantom that we have made of love? No wonder we have songs that beg an explanation to the query: "I want to know what love is." Do we really want to know? Maybe. Maybe not. What we do know is that we are nothing without it. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol." 1 Corinthians 13:1. We need to do better. Can we get back to basics?

Love is an action word. Trust me, I did not come up with this on my own. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10. Because I understand this to be true, some real soul searching was in order. What should be my response to this great love so freely given? I asked myself. Upon self examination and after reviewing the ideal model noted previously, one thing was clear, improvement was needed. What have I done to show gratitude for this love?

While dwelling on ways that life could be better for me (concentrating mainly on my wants), an interesting thought popped into my head. Why not think about those who have genuine needs? Those less fortunate. If you think it is without any trepidation that I got to this place of altruism (a selfless concern for the well-being others), think again. I spiraled into feeling blue about some things in my life that had gotten me down, specifically the loss of loved ones long passed and most recently passed. Then, as I reminisced, I remembered that it was love that lifted me. Reflecting on the love shared with my loved ones and the outpouring of love that others had shown to me by their loving actions and their kind and comforting words brought me through. I am still blessed. I am loved. In the words of that infamous rapper, Snoop Dogg, "What you be willin' {wilding} for?" Translation: I have so much to be thankful for. Instead of complaining, I should be appreciative for what I do have. In essence, embrace the blessings and spread the love.

A check of our love barometer might reveal that we are out of alignment with the characteristics of authentic love and need to be refreshed. We cannot give or share what we do not embody. What do you think? "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth." I Corinthians 13:13. Are you in alignment?

My eight-year old grandson received a Leader's Award from his school recently for being kind. It's a sad commentary on my part, but I could not immediately think of what he did to be kind. (You see, I had worked in the NYC public school system for 32 years before retiring; I am a little jaded). So, I asked him. He said that there was a boy in his class that no one wanted to sit next to, and so he volunteered. Wow, that was kind! I thought. But, also unfortunate that it had to come to that. Nevertheless, that was a kind thing to do. Might I dear say, a loving thing? Being kind is a great way to start the new year.

Now that we know what love is; "What are we going to do with it?" The decision is ours. Some suggestions:

1. Make 2019 the year that you express love and gratitude in your own special ways. No matter how little you may think you have, someone else has much less. Be thankful. In the basement of my building, there is an area where you can leave bags of clothing and other items that a cooperator no longer has use for. I observed someone going through a bag filled with clothing and picking out items. This was a little jarring; as I thought everyone here was doing okay. But, the truth be told, we don't always announce that we are in need. Sometimes our pride gets in the way. Be mindful. Our world, our families, our communities are hurting; love is a healing balm. Find a person, a charity, a church, a cause and get to giving love. Remember, love is an action word. Move from thinking to action. Hunger is not eased with well wishes. "If one of you says to them, Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?" James 2:16. You can use your time, talent and/or treasure in lifting others to show gratitude for the love that you have been given. Where you can, fill an actual need.

2. Plan and deliver. Bless someone else for real. Show love. Don't just think about it; make it happen. For myself, I have a desire to increase my visits to the sick and shut-in. But, in the past I just could not find the time to visit as many as I would have liked. This year, I am going to make this a part of my focus and sincerely commit to making a plan (complete with implementation dates), with regard to this goal. I implore you to think about ways that you can commit to helping others. Develop a list of at least 10 acts of kindness and post it in a well-traveled, well lit, visible spot in your home; like in the kitchen on the refrigerator or on the computer, or maybe on the back of your cellphone (for you millennials). Choose one and execute daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Just so that you are serious, write next to each act the date when you will do it. Start small. What may seem inconsequential to you, may mean the world to the recipient of your kindness. Some examples: Visit the sick, send a get well card, go shopping for a senior citizen, call a family member you have not heard from in a while; just hold the hand of someone who is hurting when silence is appropriate, etc. Preference in your heart that you are going to be a blessing to someone else!

3. Your kindness matters and will make an eternal difference. No act of kindness is too small or insignificant. "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40. You will be blessed as a by-product of blessings others. "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." Proverbs 11:25. (What goes around, comes around). How great is that! Take a leap of faith: share the love. Journal the results. You might just see "what's love got to do with it."

4. Don't take life for granted. Learn to cherish each precious moment and take every opportunity to show your gratitude for the priceless gifts of life and love that you have been given. Always remember that you are blessed and that you have a lot to be thankful for. I am learning that the abundant life is not about having everything; it's more about appreciating what you have. Each day when you open your eyes, no matter what, give thanks. "1 Thessalonians 5:18." Instead of complaining; seek out someone who is really in need and help them. Live your life in this fashion. Share the abundance you have been given, and encourage others to do the same. When we do this, you and I will then be the change that is needed in this world to open and broaden the circle of love.

Be fully alive!! Live your best life: Love God, Love yourself, Love others. (Matthew 22:37-39).

Happy New Year!

Yours, Yvette

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