“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….”
There are lots of ways to say “I love you”, aren’t there? And according to the above Christmas song, even a couple breeds of random birds are enough to do the trick!
But truly, Christmas is the greatest “I love you” all.
It’s the ferocious “I love you” from the throne of heaven, because it’s about a God who became man just to show us His love in a tangible way.
He could have sent anything- but He sent Jesus, a demonstration of Love.
What an amazing time of year to not only reflect on this great Love, but to allow it to motivate us in how we love others. So many times in life, we give love in hopes of receiving love. We encourage our spouse, hoping to get some encouragement in return. We make time for a friend, expecting that they will also make time for us.
But what if we used this time of year to love like God loves us; to give unconditionally, freely, and without expectation.
A few weeks ago on Twitter I was brainstorming how to #SayILoveYouWithoutWords. Often times we default to simply saying “I love you”- when in reality, there is no love like that of demonstrative love- a love that gives, sacrifices, and serves.
I thought it would be fun to spread the love this Christmas season by presenting you with the 12 Days of Christmas Love Challenge.
If you’re married, consider taking this challenge to love on your spouse.
If you’re single, consider showering love on someone significant in your life.
Either way, the challenge is for you. It’s a way to demonstrate the unconditional love of Jesus- who loves with no expectation of receiving. You can start this challenge at anytime, but if you want to take it through Christmas Day, be sure to start on December 14th. Each day you’ll be given a special way to demonstrate love. The challenge is meant to cost little-to-nothing, and take just a few minutes of planning ahead. The idea is that showing love doesn’t have to be extravagant- it just has to be authentic. So join me this Christmas as we shower some love on those we love the most.
Day 1: The song of love! Today, choose a meaningful song and share it with your loved one. It could be a love song, an encouraging song, or something that will get them to laugh. Give it to them on CD, send it in an email, or post it to their Facebook.
Day 2: A kiss is worth a thousand words (real kisses, or chocolate kisses). If you’re married, shower your spouse with kisses today at unexpected times and places. It’s easy to fall into the habit of routine hello and goodbye kisses. Today, focus on showing physical affection and kissing your spouse throughout the day.
If you’re single: Shower your loved one with chocolate kisses!! Buy a bag of Hershey’s Kisses and leave it in an unexpected place for your loved one to find and enjoy. Who doesn’t love a little sweetness in their day?
Day 3: Purchase a small gift under $5, but something meaningful and thoughtful that demonstrates love and describes your loved one in some encouraging way. Write out a sweet tag to go with it explaining the meaning for the gift. Examples: Lotion for someone who has “hard working hands”. Candy for someone who is full of sweetness. A journal for someone who has had helped you write the story of your life.
Day 4: Set aside 30 minutes today to do something FUN that your loved one would enjoy. Choose something you can do together. Examples: A board game, making a meal together, going for a drive to look at Christmas lights, or something else (Married couples- get creative here….*hint hint*) Use this time to connect and have fun and make it your own.
Day 5: Focus on verbal affirmations today to show your loved one love and appreciation. Stay away from the over-used phrases of “thank you” and “I love you”, that often get said without thought. Instead, choose your words wisely and make a goal of offering at least 5 affirmations throughout the day. Focus on things they DO, but also, focus on who they ARE. Examples: “I really appreciate how hard you work for our family”- “Your smile brightens my day” – “You have so much wisdom, and I always appreciate your advice” – “You’re such a great example of generosity” – “Something I love about you is….”
Day 6: Go text crazy! Go the extra mile and send your loved one text messages all throughout the day to show your love, or simply to make them smile and laugh.
Day 7: Pray for your loved one today. Ask God to give you specific things to be praying about pertaining to your loved one, and then ask your loved one how you can be praying for them throughout the day. Be deliberate about bringing their requests and needs before God. Some ideas: Pray that they would increase in wisdom – Pray for their emotional and mental health – Pray for strengthening of their relationships – Pray that they would be walking in God’s will for their life – Pray against any temptations and struggles they are dealing with.
Day 8: Serve your loved one today by doing something simple and practical. Examples: Bring them a cup of coffee. Cook them a special meal. Clean out their car. Fix something that needs to be fixed. Finish a chore they don’t like to do. Watch the kids so they can have an hour to relax.
Day 9: Give them God’s Word. Choose a special passage of Scripture that describes your loved one, or reminds you of your loved one. Ask God to reveal to you what they may need for that day. Write it down or type it out, and then give it to them today. Meditate on this scripture throughout the day and ask God to fulfill those words in the life of your loved one.
Day 10: Post your Love! Not just on Facebook or Instagram, but in real life. Grab a pack of post-it-notes and leave inspirational little notes anywhere you can think for your loved one to see. Examples of things to post: Favorite verses, encouraging quotes, positive words of encouragement, jokes, drawings.
Day 11: The gift of yourself. Today, choose one thing that you want to work on in your friendship/relationship as you seek to show love. This may require an apology, or even a confession, but seek to choose one thing you want to “do better” as you seek to show love to the best of your ability. If you’re really brave, ask them to share something that they would like you to do as you strive to love them better. Examples: I’m sorry I haven’t been as encouraging as I should be, I want to encourage you more. — I want to be a better listener, and it’s something I promise to work on.
Day 12: A Christmas Letter. Today, write a handwritten letter for your loved one and put it in an envelope as a special Christmas present. Use this letter to share your heart. Take the opportunity to say things you may not say often, and let them know how much they mean to you. Allow your words to reflect the love that is in your heart. Trust me, this letter will be something they treasure and refer to often.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!