What is love?

Fondness, tenderness, warmth, attachment, intimacy, endearment, deep affection, generosity, sacrifice, selflessness, romance, humility, patience, loyalty

These are all words that float through my mind when I think of love (which is every day really). We all constantly seek after this word, this noun, this verb, but how well do we really know what it truly means to love someone? Is it a feeling? Is it something we just choose to do? An action that we take part of only towards those we want to be close to us every minute of every day? If we lose it do we just walk away?

The reason I am writing about this is because I have been faced with the brutal truth that I am not very good at any of the definitions of love. At least not the ones I believe in.

Love, to me, is mostly a verb. Love means choosing to put others first and being a servant even when you do not feel like it. Love means being willing to swallow your pride and apologize for how you reacted in anger even when that reaction seemed justified. Love means pursuing peace in a relationship even when it seems like you should not have to be the peacemaker. Love is forgiveness, empathy, and sympathy. Love is courage, grace, and mercy. Love is something you bestow on those who seem undeserving because you yourself are also undeserving and someone has done the same for you. Love is relentless and unconditional. Love is something you continue doing even when the person you are choosing to love is causing you to strongly dislike them. Love is being willing to let go when it is in the other person’s best interest. Love is compassion. Love sometimes comes with feelings but is not ruled by them. Love can be a huge struggle, but it should not be given up on. Love produces hope and defends against apathy. Love overcomes. Love is worth fighting for, always.

The best definition of love I have ever seen is the love found in the Scriptures:

I Corinthians 13:1-7

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

When I look at these things I know that they are all true. Through my own experience, through the example of others, and just by the way it resounds in the deepest part of who I am. However, I am hopelessly lacking in all of these areas.

At the end of the day I find that I am still always learning how to love. I know I will be for as long as I live. The important thing is that I never stop trying.

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