As one of the dearest people in my world embarks upon a new relationship, I wondered this morning whether she’d ever reach out to this ancient and somewhat life-battered sage to pass on any words of advice. She wouldn’t yet, of course… it’s much too soon…but at this point in my life I really believe it’s important to get all the words out of my soul and put them down “on paper,” to be accessed as needed.
I only have one thing to say, and it isn’t original: “Always remember that love is a verb.” I can’t remember which self-help guru I got that from, but it has seen me through a marriage that’s still going strong after thirty-three years, a number of friendships that have lasted even longer, and two exhilarating rides on the roller-coaster of motherhood.
Love isn’t something you fall into, like an overstuffed couch you eventually struggle to escape. It’s something you do willfully, whether you’re in the mood for it or not, whether you’re inspired or not. It’s something you even do when you’re in the mood to strangle the other person…when the last thing you care to do is to put that person’s comfort and happiness ahead of your own. Still, you get out of your own sickbed to fetch that person an aspirin. You make him a grilled cheese sandwich with the last slice of cheese that’s left in the house. You listen to his music, you laugh at his jokes, you keep quiet through his tantrums, you rejoice when his endeavors are successful. You love… and lest you think it’s all a matter of one-sided sacrifice, don’t forget that in optimal circumstances, he’ll be doing the same thing for you. You’ll love each other.
Love isn’t “a commitment”… it is the act of committing, moment after moment, and day after day, to bring joy and ease into another person’s life. Its isn’t something you feel… although it will generate feelings of happiness, satisfaction, pride, amusement, and yes… a little bit of good old delicious lust, which can’t be bad, you know… I think it’s God’s reward for all those tedious moments of sacrifice.
It’s something you do when it’s hard and when it’s easy, and because you don’t stop doing it, you get better and better at it, until you don’t think you’re doing anything at all. Loving becomes an action you take as naturally as you breathe, or pump blood through your heart. It becomes something you need to do in order to stay alive, and it’s not always something you stop doing if the other person’s days come to an end. Love can connect souls.
Love. Love fiercely and without fear. Love at the risk of being hurt, at the risk of being silly, at the risk of giving more than you think you have, or would ever hope to receive. Love because it’s fun. Love because it’s scary. Love because it’s distracting, and exasperating, and the tiniest bit goofy, and because you’ll never know if you’re doing it right. Make it up as you go along. There are no guidelines. Love because it’s healing, and necessary. Love because it’s God’s way to let you share in his very essence. It’s what he wants you to do. It’s what He does.
In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was a verb.