Valentine’s Day is coming up. Ergo, I can’t think of any other befitting topic than
Love and its works through the lens of caregiving.
I can talk for days about what Love is and what it’s not. Numerous books have been written about it, sonnets inspired by it, people slain in its name. It’s a complex and varied subject surely to draw debate depending on the speaker and listener.
I won’t pretend to be an expert in it because as a young earthling that’s still growing, my definition of Love keeps changing and evolving.
That being said, there is a specific layer of Love that I have been blessed to witness as a caregiver that has taken my breath away. And you’ll have to forgive me because the effects of it, I cannot really concretize into this neat, nice packaged definition. You can recognize it only by the feeling you get when it’s delivered.
To start, I’ll simply tell you a brief story about my neighbor Sonny (name changed for confidentiality).
Sonny is a pretty chill, quiet guy. As a matter of fact, before my mom was ill, I wasn’t 100% sure Sonny even liked us. He’s a private person who’s polite enough but we really didn’t have many conversations.
One day, my mom was rushed to the hospital in one of her most horrific healthcare crises. This truly was the bottom. She was hallucinating and incredibly ill and eventually admitted to one of the intensive care units.
Spontaneously, as I was arriving home, Sonny asked if he could visit her in the hospital. I was stunned.
“Of course!” I exclaimed. I gave him the room number and address and not only did he show up before I did but he was very sweet and endearing with her. He comforted her, chatted with her and was very attentive.
Months later, after we arrived home from the rehab facility after 5 to 6 months of her being out of her house, here comes Sonny, asking if he could play his guitar for her. I didn’t even know he was a musician! AND he played beautifully. Because my mother is a Christmas song fanatic, he played and sang every Christmas hit available including Silent Knight, These Three Kings and Feliz Navidad—her fave.
And I could write a whole other blog post about my other dear neighbor who, without question or judgment, has tinkered with and fixed my car on many an occasion, whose wife cooked me a Christmas plate and whose entire family has sent up a million prayers to heal our household.
There was a tender ache in my heart after these acts of kindness. When someone gives freely with service at the forefront, there’s no greater good. And it may seem like a simple thing but there is also the other type of giving of which I am sure we are all aware. The giving that happens out of obligation or personal agenda which I won’t say much about except that the receiver can surely tell the difference.
To end this post, I would like to offer up my own Six Commandments of LOVE in the spirit of Valentine’s Day but more so in honor of LOVE and those friends and family members who have offered it to me in great abundance.
Disclaimer: These are based on my specific experiences as a young earthling fumbling her way across this planet. Feel free to disagree or, better yet, I invite you to contribute your own in the comments section.
The Six Commandments of Love
Thou shalt listen wholeheartedly without silently debating the person in your head or fixating on being right. We humans have an obsession with being right and, as far as I can see, it doesn’t win us anything except resentment and hurt feelings. However, in contrast, respecting loved ones by listening intently to their unique world view wins you affection, appreciation, respect, kindness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Thou shalt replace jealousy and envy with support and service. I remember reading somewhere, and I believe this to be true, that feelings of jealousy and envy stem from a “limited resources perspective” versus a mentality of abundance. Basically, if he or she gets the blue doohickey then there’s no more blue doohickeys for me. Replace “blue doohickey” with anything you want—boyfriends, girlfriends, clients, cars, jobs, bubble gum, etc. However there’s no proof of that. You pay enough attention and you realize there’s more than enough for you, your grandchildren and great grandchildren! Therefore whatever truly belongs to you and is specifically meant for YOU is waiting in the wings until you get up and go grab it.
Thou shalt learn the person you love. There is no one size fits all when it comes to love. Loving Susie Q. is completely different than loving Jamie H. This is why “Love Languages” is one of my favorite books because it acknowledges that making the effort to truly study a person and respond accordingly is the ultimate gift.
Thou shalt show up. Trust me, as someone who is a self-proclaimed home body, I don’t mean this literally. I think showing up can entail asking “How was your day?” and genuinely meaning it. It can also be supporting someone’s dream emotionally, financially or otherwise.
Speaking of supporting someone’s dream. Thou shalt support someone’s dream! Interestingly enough, I think it’s happened to almost every entrepreneur that when they embark on a new enterprise, there’s at least one loved one that will insist on a free service or product, better known as “the hook up.” If we can support Gucci, Prada, Nike, Drake, the entire Scandal cast and all these other entities whom we don’t know personally, I think it’s only reasonable to invest in the vision of someone you love. Again, there’s a myriad of ways to do that including helping a loved one prepare for a job interview, volunteering to help them set up at their first speaking event, forwarding a marketing email, donating to a cause they’re involved in or simply cheering them on and telling them they can do it! After all, building wealth starts at home.
And last, but not least, thou shalt ALWAYS ask “How may I be of service?” To serve is, frankly, the whole point. I saw a quote by Laurence Leamer, “The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched hand is a twist of the wrist.” A great reminder that the only difference between a giver and a givee is time and circumstance.