The Practice of Love

I am working on loving.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more generous in my relationship. I didn’t realize what a mess I was getting into when I wrote that down.

I’ve been following Brené Brown’s work and in one of her interviews she reminds us that the most basic Christian definition of love is God. Only now, having grown up in an evangelical church, am I beginning to really understand what that means.

In the Christian tradition, Jesus embodied the hard stuff most of us spend our lives trying to avoid. He embodied discomfort, vulnerability, and empathy. He walked amongst the shunned, spent his time with the poor, and embraced the marginalized.

Love is hard.

I’m finding it really hard to practice this in my relationship. I’m not talking about the anonymous act of kindness or giving one’s time to charity. I know how much easier it is to be generous, to spend your energy on those less fortunate, who coincidentally are not in your immediate circle-I know, I made a career out of it.

This is so much harder. This is dissolving the ego and crossing the divide to say I’m sorry. This is softening in their moments of vulnerability when I just want to remain stubbornly righteous. This is responding with selflessness instead of being concerned with how it affects me.

For now, in an imperfect attempt, I’m defining love as a generous heart. I understand that I cannot become the person of wholeheartedness that I want to be without learning to be that person in my most intimate relationship.

But there is a sort of relief in uncovering the truth that love is something really hard. It’s not sweet kisses and flowers on your birthday. It’s a practice. It’s a choice in how one behaves, not a feeling. It’s a generous heart in a moment of adversity.

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