Disclaimer: This post is heavily influenced by the fact that I just started dating a lovely, awesome girl who lives in St. Louis.
This time, the word in question is "love." It gets thrown around a lot and I am not sure that we have a good definition anymore. For many people, it doesn't really mean anything at all. That is a shame. It's a good word.
No, none of this is new. A lot of people have said the same thing so I am just repeating what they said. That doesn't mean it isn't worth revisiting from time to time.
So as I was flying back from the midwest, I decided I would settle on a definition of love that I could use. Once I did that, I redefined some other terms that use the word. Feel free to use them if you want.
Love- Extending one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth. (I borrowed this from M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled.)
This makes love an action, not a feeling. I think that is really important. You shouldn't have to depend on someone's word alone. I can tell you I love you all day but this definition means that it is backed up with some action.
I Love You- A descriptive statement about one's previous and current behavior regarding the extension of their self for the nurturing of their own or another's spiritual growth.
Q: What do you do?
A: I love you.
You can change it to go with different tenses. So versatile!
Q: What are you doing?
A: I am loving you.
Q: What will you do tomorrow?
A: I will love you.
Q: What have you been doing?
A: I have been loving you.
You should be able to point to specific instances to back these up. I made you dinner. Tell me what is on your mind and I will listen. I will call you tonight. I took care of the kids this morning so you could sleep in.
Yes, saying it is important. But the words should just describe things that already happen.
In Love- The process of tangibly doing some act that nurtures someone's spiritual growth.
"Hey, we are going to go catch a movie tonight. Want to come?"
"Sorry my friend, my wife and I are having an important conversation because I am in love with her."
The bottom line for me in all of this is that I am not going to use that word until I can back it up with stuff I have already done and stuff I am doing and stuff I am committing to do.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13
I used to throw that word around. I said it because I was "supposed" to say it. But not anymore. This lovely, awesome girl, won't hear me say "I love you" until, beyond the shadow of a doubt I have proved it with my actions.
She will experience it long before she hears it.
I will have laid my life down for her. I will have made a sacrifice. I will have hurt for her, bled (hopefully metaphorically) for her, dropped my own wants in favor of hers. That is how she will know. That is how I will know.
Then I will say it.
That is the way the universe works. That is what Jesus did. That is why we can say "Jesus loves you."
He proved it long before he said it.