Love depends on knowledge and acceptance. Love takes the time to find out who you really are: what you think and believe, what you question and doubt, what puzzles and perplexes you, what delights and enlivens you, where you’ve been, what’s happened to you, where you think you’re going and what it means to you.

Love takes the time to imagine what it is like to be you, and so love asks:

What was it like to grow up in that home, at that time, in that place? How much laughter did she hear? How much screaming did he endure? Who helped him, who hurt him? Who believed in her? Who put her down and held her back?

What did he learn about how to handle failure and success? What did she learn about being herself, being strong, and being accepted?

Did she learn to rest in the arms of a loving God? Or to run from the reach of an vengeful God?

What makes her heart sing? What makes it break? What opens his spirit? What shuts it down?

What is it like to live in his mind and heart? What voices does she hear when she is alone and vulnerable? What do they say to her? What is like to see the world through his eyes and experiences? How much light does he see? How thick and dark are the shadows around him?

Is she growing stronger and more confident, or more tentative and uncertain? Is he on the way to his dreams, or has he lost his way?

Love sees you as you are; your potential and possibility, your limits and frustrations, and welcomes you into a refuges of rest, a shelter of understanding, a haven of encouragement. Love celebrates your successes gladly and holds your failures tenderly.

Since love depends on knowledge and acceptance, it hinges on listening. Swiss physician Paul Tournier was right when he said, “No one can develop freely in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one person. It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to, to be taken seriously, to be understood”

Listening, receptively and responsively listening, is love’s most generous gift, its finest art, and its most healing balm.