Recently we happened upon the television broadcast of a sermon from a local church. The preacher was a skilled orator with a compelling message about love. One of the comments he made particularly caught my attention as it relates to our love relationships. He spoke of loving someone so deeply–as he said God loves us–that we fully encourage them to achieve their vision for their lives. Do you love your spouse that much?
I got to test my love back in late July when a special opportunity came Bruce’s way. He was offered a job working with Barack Obama’s campaign as a field organizer. In principle I supported him 100% in saying “yes” to the offer. In practice, getting to 100% encouragment was more difficult because saying “yes” for him meant sacrifices for us and me. But get there I did and he left for his assignment in early August.
Below are some of my learnings about offering my love and support at 100%. I hope they’ll be helpful to you as you seek to be the most loving and supportive mate you can be.
Lessons about offering your love and support at 100%
- “Giving up” something (time with a loved one, for instance) helps you have a fuller appreciation of the gift that the thing is in your life. For me, pondering our 3-month separation left me feeling incredibly sad. In anticipation of the time apart, we made great efforts to savor each present moment and enjoy the time we did have together.
- It’s enlivening to know that your gift of 100% encouragement can give another person “permission” to go after their big dreams. It seems that many of us defer our dreams and even put off seemingly minor adventures because we don’t want our partner to sacrifice for us. By saying “yes” to Bruce’s leaving, he wasn’t weighted down with any guilt or sense of obligation.
- When you give 100%, the return is always with interest (very few other “investments” can produce this return). While it might seem long in coming, or it might even come in some unexpected form, the rewards for selfless giving are more than you can ever fully anticipate. My experience is that even during our separation (which isn’t easy emotionally) I’m being “paid back” with wisdom, adventures, and gifts I didn’t know would be headed my way.
- Imagined fear is usually what stops us from offering 100% love. While there are challenges to overcome when we sacrifice or do without, there generally are more fears in our imaginations than what we actually experience. There are downsides for both of us with being apart for 3 months, but the gifts actually outweigh the trials and many of my imagined hardships simply weren’t even close to reality.
Though your spouse may not be lining up to work for a presidential campaign or planning to jet off on some foreign medical mission, chances are the two of you have everyday occasions to give your 100% love and encouragement to one another. If you’ve been giving at less than your full potential, take the opportunity to go full out the next chance you get. It might feel scary and it may even seem a bit crazy…but I’m confident that you’ll be a great giver and the results will be better than you think they will be.
Here’s a song that eloquently speaks to the blessings of giving your love at 100%. It’s called When You Come Back Down and is sung by the band, Nickel Creek.