There are so many ways to be a good person, so many books and podcasts and self-help articles and stories poured into each of us from a young age. We’re encouraged to behave a certain way, to follow specific rules. We’re told that being ‘good’ equates to being perfect, and so we spend so much of our lives in desperate pursuit of what we’ll never reach.
But the more and more I chase this unobtainable, or attempt to discover the ‘right’ way to live, or pour through the pages of my Bible, or encounter people who teach and shape me in incredible ways, the more I get to this one simple truth—the best way to live is to love.
Love is the root of all things. And what I mean by that is there isn’t one single thing on this earth that doesn’t deal with, or center on love. And not romantic love, but connectedness-love, passion-love, relational-love.
Think about it. When you do something, you do it out of love. A job: you’re pursuing a passion or you’re following a dream; or even if you hate your profession, you’re working because you want to support yourself or others, because you love the people in your life and need to be there for them financially, because you want to do other things that you enjoy and thus must work for the ability to do those things. Grounded in love. Arguing: You fight with someone because, ultimately, you want to see eye-to-eye, because you want them to understand, because you long for the two of you to eventually not have to fight anymore. You love them. Working out: You do this because at the root of your desire to burn calories is this longing to love your body, to feel more in tune with your physical and mental self. Self-love.
There are countless examples of how our lives stem and bloom from love, so in order to grow we must remember to be rooted in it.
And if love is the root by which everything in our life grows, we must allow it to be the center of who we are. We must open ourselves to the possibility of letting others in, of sharing ourselves, of doing every single thing we do with our arms outstretched and our hearts in our hands.
We don’t have to be weak in the sense of bleeding out for others, or letting ourselves be stepped in on in relationships, rather strong in the way we allow ourselves to feel, to care, to be shaped by our openness. Strong in the way we aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in a world that shies away from anything that resembles real.
Instead of chasing emptiness, temporary connections, fleeting moments, vices and people, we must set our focus on what’s within us. We must bloom from the inside out, holding love close to our chest as the most important piece.
We must be rooted in love so that this is the most powerful force within us. So that regardless of what we face, or what happens to us, we are grounded in the truth—that we are loved by God, that we are loved by others, that we are worthy of love, that we can and will change the world with the way we care.
People are afraid to feel deeply. They are afraid to fall into new relationships for fear of getting broken; they are hesitant to put others first because they don’t want to waste their time. They long for someone to pour effort and patience into them, yet aren’t willing to put this forth into others—this seems like too much.
But when we live rooted in love, giving comes naturally. We are willing to help someone who may need it, to offer our shoulders and our hands, to set aside time to just listen to someone cry, to be there in a world that doesn’t always show up.
When we live rooted in love, we sacrifice. And not in the sense of losing ourselves, but in gaining—strength, connection, value, relationships, clarity, depth. We show people what it means to really live like Jesus. We show people how the world changes dramatically when others are selfless, when love comes first.
When we live rooted in love, it becomes less about us and more about what the purpose of this life is—to care about others, to care about our time here, to give back, to share Jesus, to be Jesus in a broken world.
When we’re rooted in love, the trajectory of our lives completely changes. Because we have meaning. Because we have purpose. Because we realize what matters is not our money, our material possessions, our status, our homes, our cars, our goals, but the legacy we leave in caring about the people around us.
In the end, all that remains is love.