Love Better: Love What They Love

Want to love someone better?

I could say a lot here, beginning with the fact that I am certainly not perfect at this.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my relationships with loved ones, but I’ve also learned a lot of lessons.  Here’s one in a nut shell:

One of the greatest ways you can love someone is to love what they love. 

For my friends Josh and Richelle, that means family. The way Richelle tells it, “Family is so important to each of us, and it really affects us when the family relationship is “off” in some way.  We realized early on that one of the best ways we could love each other is to truly love on each others’ families.”  That’s not to say that they always have to like or agree with family members (Richelle notes, “we don’t even do that with each other!”). The key is that Richelle conscientiously invests in building a loving and open relationship with Josh’s family, so that when issues do arise, it doesn’t have to be (or feel like) a crisis. Josh has done the same, and for them, Richelle says, it’s huge: “Seeing Josh love on my family, it’s amazing, and it makes me feel incredibly cared for.”

For another young couple I know, sharing in love has meant combining two seemingly-unrelated passions.  When Ellen (Melson) Kershaw was 18, she took her first mission trip to Zambia, Africa, and she was hooked. Since then, it’s been her dream to work in Africa, and she’s been back numerous times to work with children and families living in poverty. Just last year, Ellen married her high school sweetheart Clayton.  Clayton’s life has also been dominated by a dream, but his is a little more, err, sporty. He’s been throwing baseballs probably since before he can remember, and he’s good, really good.  At 23, Clayton is a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and just won the prestigious Cy Young Award for the 2011 season.

Though their respective passions don’t seem to have much in common, Ellen and Clayton have worked to bring them together.  Ellen has long supported Clayton’s pursuit of baseball, rejoicing in his successes and remaining committed through years of long-distance dating (Ellen went to college in Texas, Clayton was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school). Shortly after they married, Clayton took his first trip to Africa to see first-hand the work that Ellen had been doing. There, helping to build school classrooms, they (literally) labored together pursuing Ellen’s dream.

Back in the states, the Kershaws dreamed up Kershaw’s Challenge, pairing baseball and Africa in a very real way.  They partnered with Dallas nonprofit Arise Africa to raise money to build an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia, and committed to donate $100 for every batter Clayton struck out during the Dodger’s season.

Next month, the Kershaws are publishing a book, Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams On Whatever Field You Find Yourself (Check back here for a review in January!).  The book tells their story and seeks to empower young people to pursue their passions and purposes to make a difference.

I just love the way that Ellen and Clayton have  pursued each other’s passions and what it says about how they care for each other. I ran into Ellen and Clayton in Dallas last week and it still makes me smile to see them so happy together.  This lesson shouldn’t be limited to romantic relationships though; it works with friends and family too! Make an effort to invest in something beloved by someone you love today, and you’ll be amazed by the results.