I am flummoxed. In all the years I’ve been doing this column, every time I’ve tried to do something warm and fuzzy it has crashed in flames. But all Paul Johnson had to do was to make a tiny request for a warm and fuzzy topic, and everyone jumps to respond.
Humph. We know who’s loved around here!
All kidding aside, I’m glad for the avalanche of letters I’ve received from Meridian readers about how they show love, and how people show love to them. I don’t understand the avalanche, but I’m glad for it. Here’s the first installment of their letters:
To me true love is not doing unto others as you want them to do unto you, it is figuring out what they want, and then doing it. So often the golden rule gets warped. I once had visiting teachers I had told I could not eat cane sugar in any form. For three months in a row they brought me sugary treats that my neighbors enjoyed very much.
I have had other visiting teachers who listened to me and would do things I needed. As an example, I have a huge pile of mulch in my yard and my visiting teachers made an appointment this month to show up with gloves and help me spread it. To me that is loving service. I make sugary treats for people who like them even though I get sick if I eat them.
My husband is an absolute saint and the greatest gift of love I get from his is that when I annoy him or do something obnoxious, he completely forgives and forgets. He never brings it up later as evidence of what a flake I am. If I tell him something is very important to me he will do it no matter how he feels about it. I can’t leave out that I see it as a sign of love for me that he lives up to his covenants so we can be together forever.
My kids have all thanked me for the things I have done for them as they have grown up. Nothing says love like a sincere thanks.
This year, quite a few people from my ward brought things by for my birthday, which was really sweet. There is a military mom in my ward who sought me out to show support when she found out my son was a Marine, and I really appreciated that. Another went out of her way to clue me in about local happenings so I would not be left out as a new person. One brought treats over to welcome me to the neighborhood.
Sometimes it is just a smile or asking how I am doing. This past year has been a hard one, but the cumulative effects of many small acts of love and kindness have helped more than I could ever express. Lots of little stuff ads up to big stuff. Little acts of love are tender mercies from the Lord.
Of course I bring people food and feed them when I can, because food is love.
Liz, your first paragraph reminded me of an absolutely wonderful book I may have recommended here before: The 5 Love Languages. The thing that makes this book so valuable is that it shows we don’t all speak the same love language. What says “I love you” to one person doesn’t mean the same thing to another. This book is invaluable in helping people interact with such casual friends as visiting teachees, or such intimate acquaintances as close family members. Buy it, readers! It’s only seven bucks and change. (And no, I didn’t write it, and I won’t get a penny of the royalty money.)
I think Paul makes a wonderful point…surely it may go slow at first but in time the ball will get rolling. I know for a surety that contention gives the power to Satan, where love powers up the Atonement and the Holy Ghost (which can then bring about positive change).
I carry a heavy heart due to wayward children. The tears are always on the brink of the lids, but often a sister in the gospel will make a kind, loving comment without even knowing my plight. A friend will call or email and say just the right thing. Someone will give me a hug. The sadness is always there, but I feel strength to go through the day and stay busy as I try to apply hope in my thoughts. I am so eternally grateful for love, whatever the source.
Kathryn, I didn’t intend for this to be “recommend-a-book-day,” but I wanted to let you know about Larry Barkdull’s great book, Rescuing Wayward Children. If you haven’t already read it, I’ve heard from friends who have wayward children that it offers real comfort.
I married the greatest guy in the world.He’s a quiet guy, but he shows me he loves me everyday. We went camping this last week, and I left my pillow at home. He handed me his and slept on rolled up sweatshirts for four days. And he’s always doing things like that for me. He’s kind to me,and to me, that’s saying I love you in a way that means more than mere words.
I totally agree with you, N.E. My husband is the most considerate little fellow in the world. I’m crazy about him because of the quiet acts of service he performs every day of his life (and for a host of other reasons).
We have a gratitude board in our home. Everyday we each write at least three things that we are grateful for. When we get down or discouraged, we write more. It is so fun to see the kids’ gratitude for each other, especially after a run-in with each other.
I love seeing my name… “I’m grateful that mom got me up for school because I was going to be late!” or “I love my sweetie for making sure our home is in order!”
I love writing things on the board, too, and naming someone. You should see their face light up as they read their name on the board. It’s a great way to remember to say thank you for something someone did for us-even the littlest things that we might forget.
We find that the gratitude board helps us keep a wonderful spirit of love for each other in our home. When friends and visitors come over, they write what they are grateful for too. It’s a simple thing to do and everyone wants to see what others are grateful for! And if you’re down, it lifts your spirits to read what others have written!
Each person also carries a little paper pocket gratitude journal to write things in throughout the day… It has changed our home and our lives!
So Paul, I’m grateful that you insisted that this topic on, “Show a Little Love,” be run! What a great way to start out the week.
A Reader in Arizona
Arizona, the gratitude board is the best idea I’ve read in a long, long time. I hope readers around the world will adopt this one. Showing gratitude really is a great way for drawing people closer together.
My young adult daughters still appreciate when I tuck them in at night and give them a backrub. They are worn out from the day, and it helps them relax and go to sleep. They know that I am willing to serve them because I love them.
Also, one daughter shared something with me that she had read which included a list of different ways to show love. The different ways were: giving words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service. Each person feels loved by different things. We genuinely show love when we are willing to do things the other person wants and needs, not just what may be easy for us to do.
I like the idea of seeking comments on positive things rather than negative! Thank you!
Karen, that list of five things is the list of The 5 Love Languages that I recommended earlier in this column. See, people? You now have a testimony of two witnesses! Buy the book!
This is so awesome. I am with you-we need more positive articles and less complaining and competing. If we all would learn to truly love the Lord and then follow the commandment to love others as we love ourselves, we wouldn’t have to be so negative. We would have a heart that is knit together, and we would take care of ourselves better.
I think most people are so negative because they aren’t appreciative of their own talents and they don’t appreciate the talents of others. The problem is when we don’t truly love ourselves in a healthy way, we end up thinking people are better than we are or we think they are worse.
When we can love ourselves, then it is easier to love others. When we love the Lord, it is easier to love ourselves because we truly realize the great plan of happiness and that we are His son or daughter-and that is the good news of the gospel.
Love is the answer. Christ is Love. When we show caring and respect for others, it has a boomerang effect. What you sow is what you reap.
I have a daughter-in-law that I love deeply, but for some reason she was not very responsive to me. I could be in the same room with her and she would talk to me through my son (she talked very little), so every time I would talk to my son on the phone I would ask to talk to her. I always made sure she knew that I loved her and I would tell her so – with no response.
This went on for 10 years, until one day she responded back, “I love you too.” I was so surprised and realized by loving her and by being kind, I finally broke through any conceived barrier that was holding her back. She tells me she loves me every time we speak now and has for the past 10 years. Love is patient; love is kind.
I think the two things that people want most are to be loved and to be appreciated. When we can do that for others, it makes us feel good, makes them feel good and it adds healing to the world. What the world needs most is for everyone to do their part with kindness, because kindness is what will heal our world.
As Mother Teresa has said that kindness is in our words, kindness is in our touch, kindness is love, and that everyone that comes in our presence should leave feeling better, not worse (not a direct quote). We have so much power, and we can use that power for the good of ourselves and for the good of mankind, just by letting our light shine. Christ is the example, He is light, if we follow Him it makes everything so much easier.
Thanks for setting the stage for a positive article. There is way too much negativity in the world. We can be the change we want to see in the world, and by willing to change ourselves we allow others to change.
Thanks, Rosemary, for sharing your story of how love can work miracles. That’s something we should all remember.
I was so thrilled to see you open this topic on expressions of love, because I’ve been on a quest about it for a few years now, thoughI’ve been especially focusing on Christlike love instead of romantic love or familial love.
During my mission I developed that kind of love for the people around me, and the heartache of being shut out and put down by someone you automatically love so much and want nothing but their happiness isterrifying and dreadful. Yet it didn’t change, you just went around with your ginormous, ridiculous heart and reached out to the next person, next individual. Wanting to teach the gospel to the people you love became the ultimate, appropriate expression of love.
After my mission I was a little lost on what the proper expression of love was now. So I went on a bit of a scripture hunt, high lighting (inpink of course!) all the words and deeds and expressions of love in
The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. So far I’ve found things like being humble and meek with the people around us, patience and long-suffering, praying for those we love and being a tool in the Lord’s hands to express His love for them through you. The Lord shows his love for us by hearing our prayers and blessing us. We can do the same in many ways to those around us.
Focused on Love
Thanks for sharing some of the results of your studies with us, Focused. I’ve never been on a mission, but I would imagine it greatly enhances your capacity to love.
When our children were younger, they had a hard time being kind to each other. I asked the girls what kind of family they wanted and they described a “Love at Home” kind of scenario.
I asked them to take a challenge and be kind to their brothers.
Since their brothers were always teasing and tormenting them, this wasn’t easy. That evening it was Jason’s turn to do the dishes, and they asked if they could help. At first he thought it was a trick and refused but they just started helping anyway.
Within a week, things had changed. They are in their 40’s now and are a goofy, teasing lot, but they love each other deeply and enjoy every moment they can be together. Our kids have been through some serious trials in their young lives, but love and support have helped all us overcome.
Salt Lake City, Utah
That’s a great story, Zona, and something we can all emulate. I had to laugh, though, about your kids wanting a “Love at Home” scenario.
Whenever I hear “Love at Home,” I can’t help but think of the line, “Roses bloom beneath our feet.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I walked over rose bushes I’d have feet full of thorns!
I can’t help but think that when John Hugh McNaughtonwrote that line, he was writing something that was truer than he imagined. You can’t have the roses without the thorns-in a florist’s shop or in a family.
After your saying that you didn’t think anyone would respond, I just had to write. Which is probably what you intended. But I wanted to mention that I feel very loved when my husband and I are watching TV and I start to make a move to get up and he invariably says, “What do you want? I’ll get it.” Usually it’s just a drink of water, but sometimes it’s to put the dinner away and he always volunteers to do it for me. This shows a caring that runs deep. He’s willing to jump up and serve me, and I end up feeling like a queen.
I try to show my love for him by preparing meals that he enjoys, preparing his lunches to take to work, and by always giving him a hug when he comes home from work and asking about his day. Even though I work from home, we try to spend a few minutes to reconnect when he first gets home.
The same thing is true with my children. When they come home, I will ask questions about what they did or how their day was. I don’t pester them enough to annoy them but enough to let them know that I love them and am sincerely interested in them.
Thanks for pointing out, Busy, that there’s a fine line between showing love and having someone think you’re stalking him. When you’re dealing with children-especially the ones who are trying to become independent-it’s important to make that distinction!
I’ve discovered that there are two things that I can do to show those around me that I love them-listen and serve! Having battled chronic health issues that limit my ability to do for others, I’ve discovered the art of listening. I have also discovered that if someone really listens to me, I feel loved. Set aside the temptation to give advice. Just listen, listen, listen!
Accepting people for who they are and where they are in their journey back to Heavenly Father isn’t always easy, but that is what we would really like from others, isn’t it? Imagine what it would be like if Heavenly Father didn’t listen to us when we needed Him to. He doesn’t interrupt, rush us, tell us what to do (unless invited) or tell us, “Later! I’m busy!”
Ears Open, Lips Zipped in BC
Thanks for some great counsel, Zipped. We can all use a sympathetic ear!
What my husband does to show his love: my husband takes my side when our kids start sassing or being rude to me, and they back down. What he does to show his love for them: periodically we will start having some major problems with our sons being particularly obnoxious and rude. My husband will go in and have an in-depth discussion with them as guided by the Spirit. They feel his love and concern for them, and things immediately shape up.
What my kids do to show love to each other: ironically, my sons will tease my daughter. They will share their treats. They will share their favorite movie clips. They will make sure the others know about good things that are happening. They are interested in each other.
What I do to show my husband I love him: Lately I’ve stayed on his case to get to the doctor, get a sleep study done, get a mask that fits well, use his mask all the time including for naps. I get up with him to make sure he gets breakfast and pack his lunch. I try to have dinner ready when he gets home from work. I make sure I tell him I love him several times a day.
How I show love to my children: I try to keep them learning productively. I try to keep food they like on hand. Does food sound like a major reward? It is, but I’m trying to change that too.
I let them sleep late whenever possible. I let them stay up late to talk to each other–until it’s too late. I tell them I love them. We try to get them the things they really want (as far as we can anyway. Budgets are a natural limitation).
It sounds as though you’re doing a pretty good job, Imperfect. (Good luck on finding a mask that fits. I don’t know if they make such a thing.)
If you love someone, you will butter their toast all the way to the edges.
Gerri LaMonica, Office Mgr. & Asst.
I love that quote, Gerri. It reminds me of a friend of ours, who says that when you butter your toast, it needs to be “tooth butter.” Tooth butter is butter that is so thick you can see the indentations of your teeth in it when you bite into the toast. Tooth butter may not be good for the cholesterol, but I agree with you that it’s a sign of love to have it all the way to the edges of the toast.
What a novel idea-good news, positive information!
I have been married for time and all eternity (we are both converts and were sealed five years after our marriage) to my best friend for 37 years in November. I think the most powerful ways we have shown love to each other (suitable for sharing in this email) are these:
- Our unconditional acceptance of each other as individuals (we have never tried to change each other)
- Our counseling together in all things.
- There has never been a day go by that we do not say “I love you” to each other at least once.
Although we love our parents, there were things in both of our upbringings that we did not want to repeat, especially after joining the Church. We have consistently tried to apply gospel principles in our home-treating each other and our two sons with respect, and speaking softly as much as possible versus yelling when communicating with each other. Sometimes I was more successful than others, especiallywhen our boys were very young.
Little things that help us show love include these:
- Date night, even after our sons left home
- Foot rubs
- Notes in lunches, cards hidden when one has to be away overnight
- Flowers on special occasions or no occasion at all
Love in a marriage is love in action, just as the gospel teaches. How grateful I am for my marriage and eternal family.
What great lists, Beth! Thanks so much for sharing them.
We hit our 46th wedding anniversary yesterday. We both forgot our 20th years ago, and still laugh at how we both remembered it at the same timethe next day or two days later (I don’t recall which).
We both grew up on homes where there was little open demonstration of affection, though I occasionally saw my father hug my mother when theydidn’t know I was there. We’re learning to improve on that.
But love is also shown in silent service. For decades, my wife has shown a tireless, determined, strong-willed commitment to doing what’snecessary to make sure our family remains intact. She gained great strength from filling a mission after growing up in a home where herfather was an alcoholic who rarely, if ever, attended church, and hermother was a convert some 25 years younger than he.
Yet out of that family came a bishop, an alcoholic son who cleaned uphis life and died at an early age, but only after affecting a very largenumber of people. At his funeral, the chapel was full, and over half of those in attendance were not LDS. Other children have beensuccessful in various ways, and some have come back into activity aftera long dry spell. Their mother’s influence continues to draw them together.
My wife’s determined attention to doing what’s right with complete integrity has been a great blessing to our children. Our oldest, mother of eight, is very happy. She’s the Relief Society president. Our youngest daughter who lives nearby is Young Women president in the same ward, and she’s expecting her third child in a few weeks. Our children are good kids (all adult, but still kids to us), though three are not active. Still she labors on, never giving up on any of them.
She rescued grandchildren from difficult situations, helping some remain active in church. Others still know what’s right, which wouldn’t be the case without her dedication.
The power of a good woman and mother in the salvation of families is difficult to measure. Her reward will be great, and many will rise and call her blessed, including her husband whom she never gave up on either. He’s very thankful he had enough good sense to marry her.
What a lovely tribute to your wife, Clarke! It’s a fitting way to close out this week’s letters on love.
Readers, we don’t need any more letters on this subject. I’ve got plenty more where these came from. Thanks to all of you who have written in. I hope you all get some great ideas from today’s column.
Until next week – Kathy
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”