The Love Compass
Every journey needs to find directions to reach the final destination.
Maps and Geo Positioning Systems (GPS) use the four horizons of space: North, East, South, and West. Every compass contains these four directions. When you know the general direction of your journey, you use the compass to be aware of where you are heading.
A Different Compass for Life’s Journey
The greatest destination for life’s journey is love. Love is both the final place we are going and the way to get there.
That means we need a L.O.V.E. compass for life’s journey.
Like a compass for our physical journey, the L.O.V.E. compass has four directions:
The “needle” of the L.O.V.E. compass is your heart. When you use all four directions of the L.O.V.E. compass, your heart turns toward God, yourself, and others.
In many religions and spiritual writings, conversion happens when your heart turns towards others. You connect with the beauty, presence, and goodness of others in a deeper way.
Remember the game of catch? Speaking is throwing. Listening is catching. Speaking is sending a message. Listening is receiving that message. Put both actions together, and you have a conversation.
Relationships rely on communication. Communication is not one way. It involves your loved one throwing you a message and you receiving and understanding her message. Clearer communication equals a strong relationship.
Listening is receiving words from another person and understanding the message. Listening finds the meaning in those words. Hearing recognizes the sound of a human voice. Listening is the art of understanding what the human voice is saying. You listen to the message of your loved one. You don’t just hear his/her voice.
When you listen, you need a stance to catch the message. Your stance positions your heart to understand what she is saying. A firm stance involves the core elements of openness, focus, willingness, and confirmation. That’s it. Just these four elements.
Openness is the ability to receive her words without judging her worth.
Focus is the ability to stay engaged as long as she is talking.
Willingness wants to understand her message.
Confirmation is saying something back to let her know you received her message, and she can continue to speak.
A simple conversation may not start that way. Your loved one may disguise her/his message. So how can you take your stance and position your heart to receive her message?
You listen. With your ears, your mind, and your heart. What do you listen to? The loudness and tone of voice tell you if she/he is tired, angry, confused, happy, excited, frustrated, or depressed. The energy of his/her voice, how much life or bounce it has, gives you a clue about what she/he may be feeling.
His/her choice of words and how he/she says them with feeling reinforces the message he/she is sending you. What words doesn’t he/she say? That is a message too.
There are three other areas to listen to your loved one’s position on life’s journey: your feelings and intuition. Each of these areas helps you understand your loved one’s unique journey and your perception of it.
Listening to your feelings is essential to give yourself the chance to clear pressing emotions that can prevent you from listening closely to her. One of the biggest barriers to effective listening is missing her message because your feelings speak much louder.
And if all else fails, do the simplest thing.
Ask her how she/he is feeling. Ask her/him what she needs.
You need special spectacles when you use the L.O.V.E. Compass on life’s journey. You need to observe the details, so you don’t miss what is hiding.
The English word “observe” comes from the Latin word observāre, which means watch or pay attention to. Like listening, observing is a process. That process discovers what is on the inside. What you observe is on the outside. It is possible to see something and not observe it.
Only when you give your full attention to an object is it possible for you to observe it. Like listening, observing is a skill that you can practice, learn, and master. The more you practice, the clearer your observation.
The four core elements are: Notice, Focus, Question, and Realize. When you use these four, you will gain insights you did not see before.
Noticing is being alert to a visual cue that grabs your attention.
Focusing involves your effort to keep your attention on what you see. You watch without interrupting yourself. Or allowing something else to interrupt you.
Questioning is asking yourself about the meaning of what you are watching. Is this important? Why?
Realizing is coming to understand the landscape of what is happening with your loved one. As you offer her your support during her breast cancer journey, there are several things to observe. Some of these are not apparent.
First, if you have a face-to-face encounter with your loved one, observe her/his body language. What is her/his body posture? Upright or bowed? Is she/he close or distant? What is her/his expression? Frowns, tenseness, tears, smiles? Is she/he in pain? Her/his appearance is a signal you cannot ignore.
Second, observe the occasion or event. What just happened? Did she/he have a happy experience? A sad or painful one?
Third, observe the time and timing. What is on the calendar? When did something happen – recently or a long time ago?
Add up all the things you observe. Write them down. Ask what does this mean to her/him? Your answer will be in-sight. You will realize what is going on inside. The insights you gain from learning her/his position come from observing. You become a companion on her/his journey toward inner beauty and wholeness–which turns into outer health and vibrancy.
V is for Value
On life’s journey, valuing involves what is on the inside. To value is to discover and appreciate your loved one’s inner beauty. Many things happen in life that affect a person’s self-perception and health: illness, grieving, celebrating, positive events, losses, and so much more. Your loved one can feel elated or suffer low value. That is where using valuing is essential. Valuing shows your care to rejoice with the good news and offer compassion for the bad news. You give your loved one strength to keep going on life’s journey.
Like listening and observing, valuing is a skill that you can practice, learn, and master. The more you practice, the more beauty you will see in your loved one. The more beauty you can express to her/him.
The four core elements of valuing are: Recognize, Appraise, Reflect, and Engage. R.A.R.E. When you use these four, you will feel more able to behold the priceless nature of your loved one. She/he is one of a kind. She/he is rare.
Recognizing is coming to know or understand the heart of your loved one and your own heart. You care for her/him and want to offer your support. You want your loved one to journey to well-being and being well.
Appraising allows you to feel how precious your loved one is. There is an inner glow you receive when you appreciate your loved one. She/he is of high value in her relationship with you and others. Her very presence makes a difference.
Reflecting uses compassion to think of her/his inner beauty, no matter what condition she/he may experience. A diamond sparkles because it reflects the light inside itself. When you reflect upon your loved one’s inner light and beauty, she/he sparkles in your heart.
Engaging is deciding to share your positive thoughts, words, and actions with your loved one. You begin the process of laying down your life when you engage with her/her. If you stay aloof and distant, you’ll only make a shallow impression. It takes strength of the heart to make it through life’s journey. We don’t journey alone. We need others. We are interdependent. You are a faithful companion. Your words and actions give her the strength she/he needs to cope and hope.
Expressing is sharing heart-to-heart, meaning personal communication. It is the last direction of the L.O.V.E. Compass. For your loved one, it is the most visible and vital step. The first three points, Listening, Observing, and Valuing, are as helpful as a daydream without Expressing. You have already listened with attention, observed with insight, and valued with appreciation.
Expressing makes the invisible visible. Your thoughts and feelings become visible to your loved one to see and hear. There are three ways you can express your love, concern, and care: your presence, words, and actions.
Language expresses thoughts and feelings. In his Five Love Languages books, Dr. Gary Chapman lists five expressions of love–acts of service, words, quality time, gifts, and physical touch. Four languages involve actions; one language uses words. I recommend you pick up any of his books to learn more about these different ways to express “I love you” in words and actions.
There are four core elements of expressing: the tone and tempo of the language, the words or actions you choose, the timing of your communication, and the delivery of your message.
The tone and tempo of what you say relate to how you communicate your message. A slow tempo and soft tone are easier to receive than a quick, harsh tone.
The words or actions that you choose are important. They can be too light, just right, or too heavy.
The timing of personal communication involves choosing the most appropriate time to express your message to her. If you write a note or letter, any time may be okay. He/she will read it when she is ready.
Whenever you speak or act, some times are better than others. It is better to wait if your loved one is exhausted, distracted, or absorbed with an important task. If she is open, the time may be right. Just ask him/her if you can share something. Your loved one will tell you.
Delivery is the style in which you give your message to her. It can involve mail, propping a note against a treasure chest, holding hands, or intimate conversation. If you give your loved one a gift in a mean-spirited way, you’ve wasted your gift. If you offer that gift with a soft heart, she will receive and appreciate your gift. Your L.O.V.E. will make a difference.
More About Your Three Treasures
Like the Magi in the story of The Epiphany of the Lord, you received three gifts from God when God created you in God’s Divine Image.
We discover our three fundamental gifts: the gifts of being, doing, and relating.
We discover, honor, and celebrate those three gifts that other people have.
We give of our valuable gifts and receive the priceless gifts from God to enjoy and to share with others.
To learn more about the Three Treasures, click on the highlighted text.