Sometimes even English teachers can get into philosophical debates like is love a noun or a verb. Of course, the answer is both yes, maybe, and no. (lol) Love is one of those words that has archaic meaning and modern definition. After all, we have mad love for our favorite authors, musicians, and stars, but we also absolutely love and adore our pets, baseball, and the smell of orchids. The way we use the word indicates several degrees of depth and meaning, but verbally using the word may not mean anything at all. It is far to easy to speak the word, but much harder to demonstrate the word.
I have two adult sons, a godson, and two mostly adult grandchildren (ages 18 and 19) that I have tried to explain the concept of real love to. I start by saying, “Anyone can say ‘I love you, but their actions will tell you whether they really do.” I don’t want them to become enamored with the words alone. The words are not magic. The words do not indicate true conviction. From a noun perspective, love is a decision, a judgment, and a promise. However, love as a verb is action, demonstration, and tangible through the senses. Therefore, I tell my offspring, “When someone says they love you, it should be followed by tangible evidence.” Love must be demonstrated.
In my relationships with my mother, my husband, my in-laws, my dearest and closest friends, there is no love insecurity not because they tell me they love me all the time, but because they demonstrate their love for me consistently. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I venture to say the same thing is true for them because I demonstrate my love for them. The more we demonstrate our love for one another, the more confident, assured, and impactful our relationships become. In other words, I can depend on their care. I can depend on their presence in my life even when they are not physically present. Over time the demonstration of their love builds credibility and dependability in their spoken words.
I also warn my boys (grown men, but always my children) never to use the words ‘I love you” loosely or without thought and true commitment. The words can be used to manipulate others whether intentionally or unintentionally. In other languages there are different words to express different kinds of love. In American English (which I would argue is substandard because we have borrowed so many words from others as well as made up our own words) the degrees and kinds of love is still the same word. I love my husband. I love my dog. I love lasagna. I love cola. I love reading. I love a fire in the fire place. We can take each one of those sentences and substitute the word “love” with the word “like” and they would still be valid. We could also substitute the word love with “adore,” “fond of,” or “enjoy.” When we change the words we may get a more accurate picture of what the person means when they say, “I love you.” So I encourage my guys (and gals) to choose their words wisely.
Okay, enough of this philosophical discussion. My point, first for myself and then for you my readers, is am I demonstrating the words I use. When I say those words that have held so much meaning for centuries, do I follow them with equal demonstration and action? Do I really demonstrate love when I haven’t reached out to a grieving friend? Do I demonstrate love when I don’t take the time to check on those who are alone and isolated because they are not techno-savvy? Do I demonstrate love when I spend more time on social media than actually talking to people? Do I demonstrate love when I half listen to what someone is saying, or when I fail to discern their body language, or when I drop them an emoji when they have expressed a heartfelt emotion or struggle? OUCH!
This pandemic has not only taught me that time has no guarantees, it’s taught me how valuable relationships are. The opportunity to express my love may be shorter than I think, and I don’t want anyone in my beloved circle to ever doubt or feel insecure about how I hold them in my heart. Every day I tell myself to be more intentional about demonstrating my love. In my desire to be loved, I also want to give love – the noun and the verb. How about you? Are you receiving secure love? Are you giving secure love? It’s not too late to make the commitment. Our love may not be perfect, but it can be demonstrated in everyday.