Consider what metaphors we use to describe love and relationships.
We value people. We invest in relationships. People are priceless. A relationship can be bankrupt.
All economic metaphors.
I believe our problem is clear. We think of love as a commodity, using it for trade like money.
If someone is doing something for us, offering us time, gifts, social status, ect., we feel that they are valuable. With love, we withhold affirmation from those who don’t agree with us and lavishly finance those who do.
But love is not a commodity. And it doesn’t work like the economy. When you trade with love, everybody loses.
This morning I went to a Starbucks drive thru. When I got to the window to pay, I recognized the woman by the register. Usually a cheerful lady, today she seemed down. I asked her how her day was going. “You don’t seem your usual chipper self,” I said. She went on to tell me how yesterday she was in the hospital for a sinus infection and she’s still feeling a bit in the dumps. I expressed empathy, “Sinus infections are the worst. I hope you feel better soon,” and handed her my money. She gave it back and replied with a smile, “Your drink’s on me today.”
The point is, kindness begets further kindness. And you never know how a simple expression of care might affect someone on any given day. My day was made too. An exchange of kindness between two people is priceless.