I’m writing my first official book review. Just so you know what you’re getting into, in case the title didn’t make it clear.
Whenever I finish a good book, I feel so lost and think, “Where now?” Since I’m not one of those resourceful people who always have information at their fingertips (How do they do that, even?), I rely on other people’s recommendations to find my next good book. It’s time to give back to the world.
My mom introduced me to The Love Dare, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. The book is set up to be a forty-day commitment to make defined, daily progress in how you love. (Specifically a spouse, but I think it can apply to any relationship.) Each chapter even gives a space to write out your choices and responses to each day’s dare/challenge.
Honestly, I haven’t done this as a dare. (I have commitment-to-causes issues.) I don’t even read the day’s selection every day. (I also have consistency issues.) And I don’t write in my book. Here’s why: I could spend a year on the first chapter alone. You’ll understand just how pathetic this is when I tell you that each chapter is no more than two pages. And that the first chapter is titled: “Day 1: Love is Patient.” Stop nodding, family.
The first great thing about The Love Dare is that it is teaching me very specific things about how to love. Many great books I’ve read about love have been helpful but this one somehow pinpoints the root of the problem. The root of MY problem, at least. Day Six (Love is Not Irritable), for example, outlines two reasons why people get irritable and what we can do to prevent that. Knowing why I’m acting irritable is the easiest path to finding a way to change that. (Just, you know, if I ever got irritable, hypothetically speaking.)
Maybe it’s just me, but a fourth of my problem in life (these are rough fraction break-downs, keep in mind) is remembering. I read a lot of good, helpful books that I totally agree with and intend to follow the advice of, but something happens when I sleep and focus on keeping a family running that makes thoughts kind of dissolve in my head. Unless I actively concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing, I fall into this kind of automation trance where I’m responding to life but not being life. So I find it really helpful to start my day with a quick run-through of parts of this book. It reminds me how to love. It keeps me on track.
Another problem of mine is a tendency to think I’m always right. Or if not right, at least justified in what I did. (Just being honest here. Which is easy since I always AM right.) (Just kidding.) This book is one big glaring sign of how many ways I’m not right. It focuses me on what I need to do, not on what everyone else is doing wrong. I am responsible to love. To be unselfish. To be thoughtful. To be kind. To cherish. To let go. To encourage. To be there.
There are even chapters dedicated to aspects of love that I’ve never even considered, or at least not given much thought to as a way to love. Day Nine: Love Makes Good Impressions. Day 26: Love is Responsible. Day 34: Love Celebrates Godliness. My love is fuller and wider when I keep these things in mind.
Full and wide love reminds me of that old childhood Sunday School song. Deep and Wide. Of course, the better we love, the better we understand God’s love for us. After going through The Love Dare, I am able to dig a little deeper into my understanding of God’s love, which is so deep it never changes and so wide that it includes every aspect of my life.
I am officially recommending The Love Dare. For as many days as you are willing to open it’s pages and read, it will open your life to loving better.