Years ago, I noticed people started using the phrase “loving well/love well” to describe how they wanted to love or be loved in a relationship. I just want to love him well. I just want to be loved well. I’ll confess I found the phrase a little self-righteous like now we have even put our love on the good, better, best grading scale. I always wondered if people even knew what they meant when they tried to make a distinction between loving someone and loving him well. So I wrote off the phrase as yet another example of a buzzword that bugged me.
About a month ago, I had an experience that changed my opinion on the phrase “loving well.” In early January, my father’s best friend of 50 years passed away. I cannot remember a time when I did not know Dr. Hugh, and his funeral was a true celebration of a life well lived. As I listened to his children deliver one of the most honoring and beautiful eulogies I’ve ever heard, I kept thinking, “He loved well. This… this is what it means to love well.” Dr. Hugh loved with every fiber of his being. He loved with a dedicated, actions-speak-louder-than words type of love. It seemed that so much of his life flowed out of love- his active engagement with his family, his business activities, and his mentoring countless young professionals.
On the way home from the funeral, the Mumford & Sons song, Awake My Soul, came on the radio and the line “Where you invest your love, you invest your life” seemed to be shouting from the speakers. Where you invest your love, you invest your life. For the rest of the afternoon I kept thinking about the truth of those words. Where you invest your time, talents, energy, soul, it is there you invest your life. Dr. Hugh invested well. He invested very well.
Are you investing well?
Are you investing your love in the things and relationships that are worthy of your love? Are you investing your time in the things that will matter 10, 20, 30 years from now? Or are you investing your time in short-term pleasure, or rather short-term pain avoidance? Are you investing your energy in relationships that are healthy, reciprocal, and life giving? Or are you investing your energy in relationships that are one-sided and incite worry and anxiety. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
To love and be loved are innate human desires. We are born into this world seeking a finger to grasp, and we leave this world yearning for that same connection. In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware noted that in her work with the dying one of the most common regrets she heard expressed was that people wished they had stayed in better touch with their loved ones. In the end, it’s love and connection that matter. Not success. Not accolades. Not being on time or having everything perfect. It’s where we invest our love that matters in the end.
But there are two sides to the love coin. There is the side of loving others, but there is also the side of letting others love you. Too many of us spend our lives wanting to be loved, yet not knowing how to let down our walls so that people can actually get their arms around us. We live like emotional porcupines and then wonder why no one gets too close. If we want to let love fully into our lives, we must believe we are lovable and worthy of love. We first must learn to love ourselves well. If we ever want someone else to love us well or if we want to love others well, we must treat ourselves with love and compassion.
I was wrong. There is a difference between love and loving well. I think loving well has to do with investment. Are you investing wisely? Are you depositing your love in the things and relationships that will last? At the same time, do you believe you are lovable and worthy of love? May today serve as a reminder to love others and yourself well. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.