I am a communicator. Just ask any teacher who has had me in their class. I love to talk. I value connection. I adore people. One of my top five strengths according to the book Strength Finders is Communication (and another is Woo – winning others over). Perhaps this is why I’m so drawn to writing. I thoroughly enjoy breaking down thoughts in a way that will give others a clear picture of what I’m talking about. Because I believe behind any strong relationship is good communication. Good communication brings people together. Bad communication causes division.
Here’s another thing about me: I despise vague or broad statements. Whenever I’m in earshot of someone proclaiming a vague proclamation, you can rest assure I’ll be somewhere in the room cringing. Next thing you know I’ll be raising my hand, and clearing my throat, talking about “‘Excuse me, but what does that actually mean?” The problem with these kind of statements is that they often sound nice, but leave people unsure of how to practically apply anything. Broad statements usually produce “Amen’s” but rarely bring about action.
Right now I hear a lot of these kind of statements being thrown around. Statements like “We need to love one another. We need to come together. The only thing that will change our world is love.” And although there is definite truth to these statements, I can’t help but find myself once again cringing. I agree with them, but at the same time I can’t help but tap the mic and ask “But what does that actually mean?” What does that practically look like in times like these? I don’t say that with a cynical heart but rather with a longing to truly see souls come together. Vague slogans of peace, hope and love won’t make that happen.
So let’s communicate.
What is love really? What does it look like? Because I got to be honest: there are many times where I feel like I’m living out the broad message of love quite well. That is until I go over my check list. My “checklist” can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. It speaks of a love that is patient and kind. One that doesn’t envy or boast. One that is humble. It talks about a love that doesn’t dishonor others or is self seeking. This love isn’t easily angered and keeps no records of wrongs. It does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Not only that: it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
When I break it down I realize that perhaps what I assumed all this time was love, at the end of the day isn’t love at all. Its a shocking revelation. It’s not like I’m walking around acting like a hater to the second power. My lack of love is often subtle. Sometimes I find that I’m doing a good job of not dishonoring someone, but in my heart I’m incredibly impatient with them. Maybe I’m outwardly kind to them, but inwardly I’m secretly jealous. Most of us manage to do a lot of this list quite well, but in order for it to be real love you have to apply all of it.
So ask yourself next time someone says “We gotta love another” and you shout “Amen” what does that actually mean? Is your love rejoicing in the truth that is coming out right now? Or is your pride keeping you from even admitting there is a problem? Is your love patient with those who may not understand? Or are you too busy boasting in your “I told you so?” Does your love protect those who are being oppressed as we speak? Are you holding on to records of wrong? Are you too angry to forgive? Is your love persevering or has it given up?
I have asked myself these very questions the past few days. And I can plainly see where my love is deficient. I want to do better! Because what our world needs isn’t more sweet statements and safe actions. It needs us to communicate our love well. It needs us to break down our broad theories into intentional action. Maybe then will the world really see. Perhaps then society will understand.