Turns out, Dusty Springfield was onto something in 1967. 

A few weeks ago I watched a couple of people interact. They were sitting about two seats apart at church chatting back and forth. I know the guy, we’ll call him Bill but his real name is Stan. I think the woman’s name is Mary but we’ll call her Sue. As Bill and Sue talked I began to notice something. I began to notice not how they talked to each other but how they looked at each other.

When Bill talked, Sue looked at him as if he were explaining the most important, interesting and enthralling thing she had ever heard. I couldn’t make out what he was saying or even the tone so for all I knew he could have been explaining how he cuts his grass. To Sue though, it didn’t matter. She looked at Bill in a way that was part amusement, part amazement and part interest as if she couldn’t wait to hear the ending.

Now, admittedly, I’m no expert on women. All you need to do is ask my wife and she can confirm; when it comes to the fairer sex I am at times a real dork. But as I watched these two I suddenly realized, she likes Bill. And not just likes him, she likes him. Like 8th grade gooey, sappy, googly eyed likes him. It was a way that I hadn’t observed in far too long.

There’s just something in the way a woman looks at a man she loves that is wonderful. She looks at him as if he’s an unfolding story and she can’t wait to hear the ending. His face, his mannerisms and what he says are the most unique things she has ever seen. In fact everything about him is some sort of masterpiece that God himself fashioned for her enjoyment. If you’re ever lucky enough to see it directed at you, you should make it your goal never to let that look go from her gaze. You should strive to ensure for her sake and yours that she never looks at you with disinterest, disdain or estrangement. Unfortunately men, me completely included, often miss it.

Several days afterward I happened to talk to Bill and ask him who he was sitting near in church. “Oh, that’s Sue. We’re friends. Our daughters used to play softball together.” I should have noted earlier, both Bill and Sue are divorced so sorry, no scandal here. C’mon it’s church for Pete’s sake! Anyway after Bill’s offhand remark I sort of waited for something like, “We’re dating” or “She’s great” or “She makes a fantastic cherry cobbler!” I don’t really know, just something simple or affirming that maybe, maybe, Bill saw it but I got nothing. Nothing. Nothing that said he saw the way she was looking at him. To be fair to Bill, who may be much more observant than me, he could have just been guarding his emotions like all of us guys seem to do. He could have been playing it low key, not wanting to appear to gush over someone he had feelings for but I can’t be sure and that’s the part that troubles me a little bit.

See, at my core I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe in love at first sight, love conquers all things and all that stuff. I really want love to win out and it pains me when anyone, especially me, misses acknowledging any form of it. I think it’s just a shame. That’s why I’m a little worried about my friend Bill. I’m worried that he could be missing out on the greatest thing that God entrusted us with; the giving and receiving of love.

Nothing has ever been thought up. Not the internet, not Spotify, not video games; nothing has ever been greater than love. I realize we’re quite a ways beyond Valentine’s Day and my spouse might say that this is typical lagging behavior on my part. That even though I’m a romantic it takes a long time for it to sort of “sink into” my skull. However I can’t get past the inclination to shake my friend Bill and tell him, “Wake up man! This woman likes you; she really, really likes you.” See, I am sure I’ve missed it before and continue to miss it time and time again and it’s a crying shame. When it happens I feel for the giver of that look but I almost feel more for the person that misses it.

See, I’m all about the expression of love. I think putting love out there into the atmosphere or the cosmos or whatever is a fantastic and wonderful thing and something I highly recommend. I think it’s good for the giver but I think it’s even better for the receiver. To know you’re loved, to know that someone thinks the sun rises and sets in your eyes and to know they’d lasso the moon for you (thank you Frank Capra) is a feeling beyond anything we can imagine. But perhaps the only thing that approaches this feeling is knowing that your love is returned, it’s confirmed and it’s valued. That’s what makes a friendship. That’s what makes a marriage. That’s what makes a parent/child relationship. The acceptance, acknowledgment and return of those love looks are the sweetest feeling I think a person can ever have.

So I urge you. Don’t miss them. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to really look at someone when they say, “How are you?” Don’t be too preoccupied when your spouse says, “How was your day?” And don’t just use some throwaway response like “That’s nice, honey” when your child shows you the picture they colored. I’m convinced that every day I and countless others miss these love looks. We deny ourselves love that’s being sent our way. We miss the opportunity to bask in its wonderfulness and then we cheapen our lives by not returning it. We short-change our own happiness because we don’t or won’t return the look, the touch or the feeling. Don’t do that. There’s nothing more valuable than a look of love.

Such sappiness for a Tuesday, huh? I know I’m just a big old softie but I also hope that this might help you be more receptive to the love that comes your way and if you know someone that could use a little nudge or suggestion in that direction, please share it with them. I don’t think it could hurt, right?

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