What does it mean to love with your whole heart?
It’s that time of year again—Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and so the shelves are overflowing with sugary hearts and plushy teddy bears and silk roses all designed to give us the tools to say “I love you.” And while designed largely for romantic love and classroom parties, I always try to use the holiday as a reminder to love better, in general.
I’m talking about all the love here, from phília to agápê (did you see the Superbowl commercial?)… All the love we have the capacity to feel—for another, with another, to another, in service of another.
Because we speed through our days, don’t we? And by extension, we speed past those in them. Partners, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, colleagues, friends, pets, pastors, doctors, waiters, police officers, teachers, people stuck in traffic or waiting in line with us. They can easily become a background blur to the Very Important Busy-ness of our day.
So maybe the approaching holiday can remind us, for just a moment, to bring those blurry people into focus just to say HEY! I LOVE YOU!!! And yes, for your romantic partner maybe that’s in the form of a two-pound Hershey kiss. But maybe it’s also in the form of inviting a neighbor over for coffee. Or leaving a note in your child’s lunchbox. Or writing a letter of appreciation for a mentor and putting it in the mailbox. Or texting a friend just to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ Or holding the door open for the stranger behind you. Or bringing donuts to a meeting. Or complimenting someone on their shirt. Or taking out the trash. Or offering a ride. Or smiling at someone. Or saying ‘thank you.’
Love doesn’t have to be sky-writing behind an airplane; instead, it can be found in a hundred small kindnesses.
I’m reminded of this quote by theologian John Wesley, which is my compass for what it means to love with my whole heart:
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”
So, while it might be true that most days don’t offer me the opportunity to buy you a giant stuffed panda holding a heart to tell you how much I care, every day offers me the opportunity to love with my whole heart. One kindness at a time.
How will you love with your whole heart today?