Valentine’s Day is about love, but demonstrating that love takes more than chocolates, flowers and romantic dinners. It takes action. I’m reminded of the 90s DC Talk song “Luv Is A Verb”. It causes us to do. It’s not passive.
A basic human need — besides food, water, shelter — is the need for connection. We feel deeply connected to people when they listen to us, so why wouldn’t we demonstrate our love in the same way? While there are many ways to show someone how much you love them, one of the most precious ways is through the simple act of listening.
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”via @powertochange”]”This Valentine’s Day, demonstrate the language of love by listening.”[/inlinetweet]
However, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between hearing and listening. Here are 5 simple ways to identify if you’re really giving this precious gift of love.
“To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
Listening turns our attention towards the ones we love and what they are saying and how they are saying it. When we give our full attention it shows we care because it shows they matter.
Hint: don’t interrupt. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”via @powertochange”]”When we give our full attention it shows we care because it shows they matter.”[/inlinetweet]
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Being interested in someone else’s life is a choice. If you find yourself saying in your head, I don’t care, while someone is talking, you’ve stopped listening.
Since listening is part of a face-to-face talk, your facial expressions matter. What you’re thinking will show on your face, no matter how well you think you’ve mastered the ‘smile and nod’.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15
Being empathetic means thinking about how it feels to be someone else. Even if you haven’t experienced what they have, imagine what it is like to be them. Find a way to see from their point of view. If someone is struggling, this doesn’t mean taking on what they are going through and trying to fix it for them. To be empathetic is to attempt to understand even if it is out of your experience.
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2
There are two key steps to understanding:
- – Reserve judgement.
- – Keep opinion and advice to a minimum, unless asked what you think.
A way to demonstrate understanding is to ask questions. Ask clarifying questions that lead into further understanding. You know what they say about assumptions. Whenever possible, refrain from assuming anything. Ask questions instead.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
No matter if someone is stressed about something or excited about life, it’s always wonderful to encourage them wherever they are at. When you listen, that’s when you will know how and when to encourage.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”via @powertochange”]”When you listen, that’s when you will know how and when to encourage.”[/inlinetweet]
This Valentine’s Day, do more than buy the gifts of love. Demonstrate the language of love by listening.
*All verses taken from the NIV.