A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
What does it mean to say, “I love you?” Are words enough? Do they need to be supported with actions? What kind of actions demonstrate “I love you?” As Christians, most of us know the answer to these questions. Essentially, “I love you” is about putting others first. It’s about respecting and valuing other human beings for who they are, not who you want them to be. It’s looking at others with empathy and compassion rather than judgement and criticism. It’s giving of yourself–your time, your money, your presence, your convenience–even when you’d rather keep them to yourself. And no, simply uttering the words is not enough.
Recently, I have been exploring a program called Conscious Discipline, developed by Dr. Becky Bailey. I am NOT an expert in this field, but it is something I am beginning to try and understand and implement, both in my home and classroom.
Based on current brain research, conscious discipline seeks to understand the neurological motivations for our behavior and, after becoming conscious of those motivations/triggers/factors, finding practical ways to regulate the behaviors. It’s about assuming responsibility for ourselves and our behaviors and, once we have learned to do that, teaching the children in our lives to do the same.
One of the things I LOVE about Conscious Discipline is the focus on building meaningful relationships and communities. Dr. Bailey stresses the importance of connectivity in schools and families in order to create a positive behavioral environment. Every human being has an innate need to feel loved and accepted.When we foster connectivity between people, we give people a voice, we are better able to empathize with one another, and we can engage in meaningful relationships. Moreover, as parents and educators, connectivity allows us the opportunity to truly teach our children the skills needed to live meaningful lives. As stated on the Conscious Discipline website:
“Connection, not attention, is what all people seek. Loving moments of genuine connection literally wire the brain for impulse control and willingness. The biochemistry of love allows us to move beyond power struggles to a willingness to cooperate, fosters forgiveness instead of simply trying to forget, and provides the willingness needed to repair ruptured relationship moments.”
One of the ways to develop connectivity is through the use of “I Love You Rituals”. These are intentional repeated acts that help us bond with one another. Check out this clip from the Conscious Discipline folks. I apologize in advance for any tears you may shed!
In the Church, we have “I Love You Rituals” as well. Communion, Confirmation, Baptism, Foot Washing and the Laying of Hands can all be “I Love You Rituals” with, perhaps, a bit of tweaking. Think about what our churches would look like if we truly embraced connectivity. I think connectivity is what Jesus was developing throughout his ministry. Being part of the triune God, he would have a thorough understanding of the way human beings are wired!! I think Jesus knew the importance of being connected, both amongst the created and with the Creator. Jesus’ whole life said, “I love you”. Are we able to say the same?
Blessings and Peace,