I’ll be the first to admit that I am selfish. I wouldn’t recognize it in others if I didn’t know what it was firsthand. What I am continuously learning is that selfishness is a sign of spiritual and emotional immaturity. As I strive to ascend via personal growth, I have to ask myself – more often than not – if I’m being selfish, especially in relationships of all types. I also pray I find ways to love people in my life better.  Some can’t even fix their mouths to speak the words I Love You, while others utter them unthinkingly, the latter of which becomes a hollowed-out sentiment that floats out into the air like, “Have a good one!” A good what? While I do believe in telling people you love them often because our lives are so temporary, it becomes meaningless without genuine feelings and more importantly, action. Responsibility and expectation accompany those words.

Showing & Doing

I am loved and love others intensely. When we show our love by doing thoughtful things without being asked or showing up for someone who needs us, the passion and motivation in our actions is unmistakable. Sometimes it’s a spontaneous and kind act toward a total stranger. When people take the time to understand what’s important to me, consider me and their actions line up with their words, I have no doubt I am loved. But what about when there’s no action, only words? Is it still love? I think it is but like Keith said, “Something something. Something something just ain’t right.” My only explanation for lack of action is fear of rejection and/or believing you are somehow accountable for someone else’s happiness and some people simply do not want that kind of pressure.

When you love someone, you are NOT responsible for their happiness… but you can contribute to and be a part of it.

On the Sidelines

Fans are great. They support and encourage you when you can’t do it for yourself. When someone told me they were my biggest fan, I was flattered. I know it was meant to be a compliment but after thinking about it more I realized they didn’t show me. [Boxing analogy ahead.] A fan is all those good things I stated but they’re also spectators, watching and cheering from afar. They aren’t in the corner between rounds – even if they could be. Why? ‘Cause they don’t want blood or sweat on them! That’s way too close to the action. They won’t be there to help me stand after I get beat up. They won’t hug me and say, “You’ll get ’em next time, Champ.” They might send flowers but ultimately, win or lose, they are on the outside and want no part of my battle. I understand. It’s not your fight. They’ll wait until the cuts and bruises fade and then come around. Maybe. That’s not showing love.

When you’re with someone in a serious relationship that could lead to a long-term committed union, you need to ask yourself if you are truly down. Are you present and active in their corner for their fights? Are they there for yours? You need to be the trainer yelling out strategy, telling your fighter they’re winning and to hold on for “just one more round,” the cut-man who, in their head is like “DAMN. They gettin’ busted up,” AND the guy squirting the water bottle with that funny angled straw. I know so many people – men and women – who are ready to be that ride-or-die when they’re partner is not. Are you willing to sacrifice more than they ever would for you? Oh – and by the way, I’ve tried to be the “example” and show someone love in hopes they would catch on. Didn’t work. Since they’d never seen love, it only confused them. Compound that with trust issues and they swear you have an ulterior motive.

[biblegateway passage=”1 Corinthians 13″] tells us everything love should be, and [biblegateway passage=”Galatians 6:2″] tells us to lay down our lives, but doesn’t it seem a bit foolish to give someone your everything when they cannot or will not do the same for you. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the Word. If you’re not capable of showing someone your love, for whatever reason, it’s either time to put some action behind what you say you’ll do but never seem to do or go on. Just walk on. I know it’s not easy as it seems to for others but I think it’s doable if you’re willing to step in the ring.

Fighting for Love

As I said in the beginning, I don’t think we always know how to love as well as we think we do but here are a few ways I can think of to get started.

Put Them First. If you’ve not learned how to put others before you, try a little empathy by putting yourself in their shoes without judgment. Think about you’d feel if you were in their place. Remember, they are NOT you. Don’t assume you know someone’s situation and their story if they haven’t told you themselves.

Show Up. Be willing to be fully emotionally and physically present for someone you love. Be there. Even though you may not want to hear it, engaging in an emotional or romantic relationship requires you to be responsible. Even if it’s just listening, it’s important that you’re THERE. If you are unable to do this, you will end up disappointing and hurting them.

Keep Your Word. Do what you say you will do. If you can’t commit to doing something, don’t even put it out there. If you think you can and find you can’t, I think it’s more noble to be honest enough to tell the truth – with a genuine apology and without excuses.

Take Risks. Don’t let other people define what love means to you. If it’s in your heart to set your words of love to a dope beat and rap outside someone’s window, do it! Don’t let fear of rejection or what other people think keep you from expressing who you are. You’re an original – there is no one like you – and that’s probably why people LOVE you.

Love is an action and definitely worth fighting for.