I have had the topic of love on the brain lately. And by love I don't mean just the romantic kind, but rather, the love that exists between two human beings, no matter what the relationship is. I was married six months ago, I went to a family wedding recently, I have ended several relationships in the past year for one reason or another, and I have this crazy dog that is getting older whom I love more than just about anything else in this world. My capacity to love is great and my ability to receive love is even greater.
We are so reckless with the term "love" sometimes. The words come tumbling out of our mouths, sometimes without a second thought. Maybe I am a bit of a skeptic on this topic, but to me, there is no such thing as love at first sight. I can hear the readers gasp as they read this, as I have made no secret about my overwhelming and whirlwind courtship with my husband. My attraction to him was immediate, but I did not "fall in love with him" at first sight. That was more of a chemical pheromone reaction. I fell in love with him when he talked to me on our first date about the impact that his sister's Multiple Sclerosis has had on him. I fell in love with him when he talked about his two children and what it was like to raise them. I fell in love with him when, seeing how exhausted I was one evening, he went to find the leash and took my dog out for me before he left my apartment for the night.
I have had people tell me they love me at times and it has made me scratch my head: a new friend who tells me she loves me as she is verbalizing, in detail, all the ways in which I have failed as a friend. There is a fine line between open communication and honesty, and someone who is holding your hand to the fire while they are saying things supposedly for your own good. I have received e-mails that start with "I love you but...." while they continue to describe the ways that I have been wrong. I have also done the same; believing that by reminding a person that I love them, it will somehow lessen the blow of my honesty. I have had people tell me they love me while looking me directly in the eye and tell me lie after lie. These events are not exclusive to me; they happen to us all and as human beings, we are capable of doing them to other people.
While thinking about what it means to love, it has raised the question for me if we always understand what love is about. We, as a society, are so frivolous with the word, love, itself. We love this person and that person, oftentimes before we even develop a true relationship with them. We say we love someone based on their gregarious personality, or their compassion for other people, or maybe even because we are obligated to, because they are related to us.
But what is love really about? I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I know what it is not:
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others.
Thank you Corinthians 13...
I know love is much more complicated than that. But we all have to start somewhere. Corinthians 13 also says that "love never fails." But is this true? We hear it said at so many weddings nowadays, but yet half of all marriages end in divorce. Does that mean that we never really loved in the first place or is it possible for love to fail? Or maybe it is more accurate to say that we, as people, failed?
I heard it said recently that love is a verb and not a noun. I understand the point the speaker was trying to make: that love is an action. But, I disagree that it is not a noun. Yes, love is an action or a verb. We love someone. We show love to someone. We do acts of love. But to me, it is also a noun. Love is this THING that is so much greater than ourselves. It is a spiritual force that drives us to do things that we may not normally do, or even want to do. Love compels us to accept those in our lives, despite their faults. Love compels us to forgive. Love is the presence in our homes, churches, schools and such that make our souls sing...
It is patient.
It is kind.
It always protects,
and always hopes.
That is love.