You always gain by giving love. ~ Reese Witherspoon Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
One of my favourite songs recently is a song called Love God, Love People by the very talented Danny Gokey. As I was praying at the beginning of the pandemic, concerned about how I was to navigate the new normal, this song came to my attention. It became my roadmap for how to live life each day. In the early days of pandemic teaching, I played this theme song every day before I Iogged on reminding myself that despite all the unknowns, loving God and loving people daily was certainly something I could do. As I began to ponder how to really love people, I have come up with five creative strategies we all can use that convey to others compassion and that we value them.
Compliment freely How amazing is it when we receive a compliment? I tell you it can literally make your day. I recently opened my Microsoft Teams Board email and had an eight second voice message from a student that said “Hi Mrs. Romualdi. I miss you. You are the best teacher!” Eight seconds and BOOM! My day is totally made! So powerful! I am working at giving compliments more freely. In the past I have been guilty of thinking nice things about people but not saying it to them. I would think things like: “She is so generous and kind,” or “He is such a talented speaker” but never tell that individual. I now try to make a conscious effort to tell that person what I appreciate about him or her. We call them appreciation statements. It can be done in person, in an email or even in a card. Trust me these words add such value to people’s lives and may even be life changing for someone who is needing encouragement desperately.
Do simple acts of kindness Never underestimate simple acts of kindness. They are the gestures that are usually unnoticed by the crowd but often resonate the most with the recipient. Treating someone to a coffee, babysitting a neighbour’s kids, offering a helping hand when needed or taking care of a friend’s pets while they are away are all examples of little things that can touch someone’s heart very deeply. Kindness leaves a lasting impression on everyone and is never wasted. Years ago, when I was doing substance abuse counselling one of my clients was crying sharing about his financial struggles and how he couldn’t even afford a coffee and a muffin at Tim Horton’s. I was smiling as he shared, and he inquired about this as he was confused as to why I was smiling when he was sharing his hardship. As luck would have it, The Roll up the Rim campaign was on at that time and guess who just rolled up the rim and won a free coffee and muffin? My client was so touched and grateful to receive this simple blessing from me and I felt so good to encourage him even if it was just in a small way.
Actively listen People need someone to listen to them. Not only is it important to listen but reallly hear what they are saying. By giving people our attention, eye contact, open posture and listening ear we let them know they are important to us and what they are saying means something to us. When we actively listen it is helpful to say things like “I am sorry that happened to you,” or “That must have been so difficult,” or “How can I help you?” It is important to let them tell their story. Avoid jumping in piggybacking on what they are sharing with your own scenario unless that person asks for that. There is something very special when another person gives someone their full attention and that person feels free to truly share his or her heart.
Give the gift of time The gift of time goes hand and hand with other strategies that I have mentioned such as acts of kindness and active listening, but it goes a bit further. When we clear our schedules to come to another’s aid or spend time with someone despite an extremely busy schedule that person feels that they are a priority. We all have hectic lifestyles and too often the comment of “We should have coffee sometime,” holds no weight because no one ever makes it happen. By putting it on your schedule, making a commitment to that person, your friendship can grow to new heights because it truly shows people who is there for them when needed.
Call out greatness In a recent church service, our pastor talked about ICNU statements. This is when you say to someone, “I see in you…” whatever it may be. For instance, you can say: “I see in you great organizational skills,” or “I see in you that you are an extremely dedicated employee.” You look for things in people and let them know what you notice. I look for leadership potential in my students and purposely put them in situations that will foster that development. I tell them where they excel and let them know that I see greatness in each and every one of them. There have been many situations where people have spoken out love and belief in people and called them to greatness in areas that they never thought possible. I heard the author Gary Paulsen speak years ago at a conference about his very difficult childhood. He was raised in an alcoholic and abusive home and for this reason he spent most of his free time as a young child in the safe haven of the local library. Books became his refuge, and the library became his home away from home. The librarian there became an incredible mentor for him, encouraging him daily and helping him develop both a love of reading and a talent for writing. He openly stated that if not for her, he would not be the person he is today. She saw greatness in a young boy living in poverty and through that he stepped into his true calling. I had a similar experience where a high school teacher shared with me that he felt I had the perfect personality and skillset to be an effective elementary school teacher. At the time I did not see it, but the seed was planted. Here I am today now doing exactly that!
What the world needs now is truly love sweet love. That is no joke! People now more than ever need to feel they are loved, and they matter. By incorporating simple ways to love people into our daily routines we are blessing others more than we may even realize.
Until next time, ~ Dana
John 15:12: My command is this love each other as I have loved you.
Little Lessons Learned: Showing people they are loved is not rocket science. Each one of us has all we need to get the job done. Let’s do it today.