Some say love is a feeling, but I maintain that love, in fact, is a way of being.
An ancient text* tells us that love is patient and kind. That it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. That love honors others and is not self-seeking or easily angered. That it keeps no record of wrong. This same text tells us that love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. That it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. It tells us that love never fails.
Perhaps you’ve heard this ancient text read at a wedding? It was read at my wedding many years ago… and many others I’ve attended before and since. It is indeed a good recipe for a successful marriage.
A good recipe for living, for being, in the world-at-large
If you take a moment to really consider the definition of love above, you will see that it is filled with actions—being patient and kind, honoring others, delighting in truth and justice, protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering. I read these actions and think, while I’m certainly not perfect, I’m fairly decent at these things, or at least I try my best to be. These are high ideals—ideals I want to work towards.
And yet, this definition is also filled with inaction—holding your tongue, your anger, your envy, and not keeping score or seeking on behalf of self. If I’m transparent with you, that’s a list I need a little more work on. I think of how often I state my opinion when I should hold silent instead. How my anger rises to the surface at a moment’s notice. How I keep account of others’ wrongdoings, but not my own. How I often seek for self, and myself alone. Yes, for certain this is the list that needs some attention in my life.
See, love is an action-word, a verb. Love must be demonstrated; it must be acted out and acted upon. It must guide our actions and the things we say and do. Moreover, love is sometimes an action word requiring inaction, restraint, and self-control. It is a way of being in the world, a way of living life, every day, even (and especially) when it’s hard.
Love in action: be love
When the tiny things grate on our nerves, love is patience and kindness. When we feel our opinion must be heard, love holds it’s tongue and stops self-seeking. When our spouse or friend makes the same mistake (you know, the one you told them really annoys you), love keeps no record of their wrong.
And our love—does it always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere?
Those, my friends, are some VERBS—soul-attending, voice-stilling, heart-opening verbs!
In this holiday season ahead perhaps our love could look or “act” differently? Perhaps you can join me on working on these ideals—not as a goal of perfection, but as a way of living out of grace and beauty and compassion? A way of being with others, especially those we espouse to love and serve?
Won’t you let love guide your actions, as well as your inactions?
Won’t you join me in living out love? Acting out of love?
If love indeed is a verb…
let’s be love!
* This ancient text was written two-thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul and appears in the First Letter to the Corinthian Church in The Holy Bible.