It’s not about the chocolate.

3 ways to love your mate, your neighbor, your squad

Whether you fall prey to the romance of Valentine’s Day—or despise the very same—at the heart of it is the expression of love from one to another. As an expressive person in general, I like the notion of Valentine’s day as a time set apart to tell or show people that I love them.

So cast off your preconceived notions about flowers, chocolate or expensive cards, and discover fresh ways to LOVE your significant, your neighbor or your children this February.  Because no matter the day of the year, we can all stand to spread a bit more love, eh?

Love your Mate

When Craig and I were married a decade or so, we took the Love Language Quiz, only we didn’t begin to practice it right away.  Our languages are vastly different, mine are Service and Gifts, and Craig’s are Words and Touch.

So imagine my dismay when one year I cleaned the garage for half a day and gave him the gift of the world’s most immaculate garage…and he didn’t even notice when he got home from work!  Or conversely, when he gave me a color printer for Valentine’s day, which I did NOT appreciate because I’d deemed it completely insensitive and practical.

Nowadays, we speak love so differently, he fills out forms, empties the dishwasher, delivers me coffee each morning (acts of service) and chooses thoughtful gifts, and I hold his hand in the car or put my arm around him in church,(touch) or send him notes or texts of appreciation (words).

Speaking to my man in a way that he feels loved best has revolutionized our relationship.

Expressing love to your significant

Whether you’re married, dating, “talking”, “texting”, or “chatting”, if you spend a few minutes learning each other’s love languages, you will be doing your relationship a huge service.

If you not only understand how your loved one feels loved, but begin speaking love the way they receive it best, #relationshipgoals will have a new meaning!

Love Your Neighbor

Love isn’t just romantic. A year ago my bestselling book, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial released. We purposefully chose Valentine’s Day—because there’s a biblical mandate to love others, which is especially critical when someone is facing a hardship.

Expressing love to your neighbor in trial

Make an extra portion of dinner and take it to a neighbor that’s single, widowed, divorced or alone.

Shovel a driveway, pick up the newspaper, take in the garbage cans, offer to wash the car or fill up the tank for a neighbor who’s grieving, ill or enveloped in a busy season of life.

Order delivery of food, treats or flowers for a friend facing a crisis who doesn’t live nearby.

Offer a ride to that mom or dad who’s laid up, but still might want to attend their child’s activities.  Or have them join you at the store for errands, even if they need to use the wheelchair.  Make it fun by getting a beverage and leaving time to peruse the aisles together.  A dash of normal in the midst of chaos is always welcomed.  Even if it is a trip to Target.

Send an encouraging text with a prayer typed out, or an email or voicemail with words of encouragement.

Love your Squad

In teen lingo, squad is considered your group of friends that are like family, or your literal family.  My kids created a “Fam Squad” texting group, which allows all five of us to laugh and do life together via text even though we live across the country in NY, CO and NM. I love it.

Expressing love to your squad

Creating a squad texting group is one way to speak love and truth to your people, even if they don’t live close.  Make a point of sending a personal text (especially if your kids love words of affirmation) telling them why you love them.  They might act embarrassed, but most of us never mind being told what people love about us!

My schedule has been a bit crazy as of late, so I didn’t get the Valentine’s cards in the mail, or gift cards purchased like I planned for my college kiddos.  So I used the fancy smartphone app called Venmo to send a little coffee $ their way on this day of love.

Plan a delivery of pizza for your college kid, you can order and pay online these days.  Just a little sleuthing to figure out when they’ll be around and a local pizza spot is all you need to hit this one out of the park.  (even if it’s not on the 14th, it’s an easy way to show love any day of the year.)

If your sunshine is school aged, put an extra treat in their lunch pail that they don’t normally get.  I bought my 16 y/o fruit snacks last week for her lunch, and you’d have thought she won the lottery! Other ways to love, put a love note in their knapsack, or make a fresh batch of cookies for when they get home from school.

No matter where you land on the romantic side of Valentine’s day, consider it a powerful reminder to speak love to your mate, your neighbor or your squad!

Here’s to loving well…every day of the year.

Question: What ideas can you share for loving others well this February? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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