The three most powerful words ever spoken are still “I love you!” They have the ability to transform relationships, families and communities. When real love is expressed, people naturally come alive, heal and become who they were created to be. In LOVING PEOPLE, Dr. John Townsend explores the important role love plays in personal growth and relationships. Apart from love, we simply cannot grow spiritually, emotionally or personally.
Townsend launches by defining love as simply “seeking and doing the best for another.” This definition holds up throughout the book as he reminds readers time and time again to pay attention to the other person’s best interest.
Loving and being loved go hand in hand. They allow you to become the loving person you were designed to be. Learning to love has countless benefits. It will naturally help you develop better and healthier relationships. Learning to love also increases your capacity for intimacy. You can love at a deeper level. Whenever you’re facing trials, stress or struggles, love empowers you to get through. And loving goes hand in hand with joy and happiness. As you learn to love and be loved, you can’t help but experience success and achieve some of your dreams. In the process, you’ll develop leadership abilities and help others.
Townsend believes there are five key aspects of love. The first is connecting --- making a deep emotional bond with someone. Connecting is essential to meaningful friendships and allows you to talk about issues that you don’t tend to discuss with others. The second is truth-telling --- having the courage to speak the truth in love. Whenever you’re truth-telling you naturally have the other person’s best interests at heart and express the truth in a way that makes them understand and want to respond. The third is healing. Some readers may wonder why this is included, but this chapter examines the fact that we are all broken and in need of healing. When we truly love and learn to be loved, we bring healing to people’s lives, hearts and souls that can’t be measured. The fourth is simply letting go and recognizing when it’s time to move on. Romancing is the final aspect of loving and being loved, and it is the unique love experienced in a marriage.
Throughout each chapter, Townsend provides time-tested, easy-to understand advice. He warns of the emotional and physical damage that isolation can cause and invites readers to reach out and connect with others --- including the unlovable. Writes Townsend:
“One of the most important realities of the nature of love is that the ‘lovability’ of the other person is ultimately irrelevant. Said another way, the more we require the other person to be lovable in order to care, the less loving we are. The converse is also true: the less we require the other person to be lovable, the more loving we are.”
Insights and thought-provoking statements like these line the pages. The result is a book that everyone can benefit from. By the time you finish reading it, you’ll discover that “I love you” means a whole lot more than you thought it did and looking for ways to express and experience those words in attitude and action.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on January 1, 2008