The Gift of Love

In 4LTR WORD: GIFT by Nancy Caldwell

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“You ask me what I want.
You ask me what I need.
It’s nothing you can buy,
My heart’s not ruled by greed.
I don’t love a diamond.
Diamonds you see through.
I want you to hold me,
I want you to be true.
Give me the gift of love …”
–Bette Midler

This is the song my best friend sang at my wedding almost 20 years ago. It holds as much truth today as it did then. I’m a person who desires relationships over stuff. Give me friends and an adventure, and my life is full. It has taken me some time, though, to realize that this is more than a preference. It is a need based out of who I was created to be. I am energized by being around people I love.

I realize not everyone is wired like me. But I do believe, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, we were all created to share life in community with other people. Do you think the world would be different if everyone understood that love is a gift? And we were created to share that gift (to be in community) with others? Imagine a place where everyone knew that they innately possessed a gift that cost nothing and could be given and received without regret. I don’t know about you, but I desire that kind of connection with people. I want to be surrounded by others who give and receive love, not just with one another (although that is important), but with people they come in contact with throughout their day.

I know it sounds like I live in a fantasy world. This is a great idea in theory, but in reality, no one is walking around saying, “Here’s my gift of love—please accept it.” And trust me, I know people have real pain and real tragedy from sharing this gift. I am not discounting that we live in a world where hurt is real. But even amidst the pain, I have found that trying the following action steps in my relationships helps me live in a world where giving and receiving love is a gift:

1) Choose to see life and those in it as a true gift. It’s a choice—make it!

2) As a wise friend recently said, “Each birthday is a privilege and is meant to be celebrated.” Celebrate life. Celebrate it with the people you love.

3) Lean in instead of running away. If things get sticky with a person, lean into the difficulty and come out on the other side better for it—even if the results are unexpected.

4) When someone asks, “How are you?” or some other question along those lines, take the time to answer them honestly. Bring truth into your relationships.

5) Tell people you love them frequently.

6) Tell people they are a gift to you and specify how.

7) Ask people for help, or support, or prayer when you need it. Don’t be afraid.

P.S. If my husband happens to read this—diamonds are okay for a 20th anniversary!

Photo (Flickr CC) by Ian Sane

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Nancy Caldwell

Nancy Caldwell

In 1997, when Nancy graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Master's degree in Social Work, her story took an unexpected turn that led she and her husband, Chris, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Within a few short months, Nancy began building a career in the challenging field of child welfare. Over the next fifteen years, she had the privilege of stepping into the stories of hundreds of children and the families surrounding them, helping them to make sense of their own lives. She officially did so by utilizing her clinical social work license, but the most important "interventions" learned along the way included simply showing up, being present, and being available. Today, even as her career and life direction continues to evolve, that simple truth remains. Therefore, whether in her private practice at Life Spring Counseling Center or out meeting hospice patients; whether with her house church and community, or with her own family—Nancy's sole desire is show up, be present and be available.
Nancy Caldwell

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