[This is part two of an ongoing series, the idea of the immortal conversation is described in Part One. Another note, I used a lot of gender specific pronouns in this post; sorry about that.]
What is love? It is a question that has baffled philosophers and the Trinidadian singer Haddaway for years. The first definition that Google gives is unfulfilling: "An intense feeling of deep affection." So love is when you really like something. Is that really what love is? I propose two different definitions for love, neither of which is correct, but both of which is a vast improvement over the internet search results.
Firstly, love is wanting the best for someone. It fits. I love myself; I want the best for myself. When something good happens to a friend, I am happy for him. This type of love lets us love strangers. We hold the door for strangers. We flash our headlights to warn a passing car that there this a speed trap around the corner. We help one another and that is loving one another. Love isn't necessarily warm. When we love our students, we get angry when they don't do what they need to do. We want the best for them. It is this kind of love that leads us to do unpleasant things. You drop her off at the door and walk in the rain, because you would rather get drenched than see her suffer the inconvenience from a droplet. Love is going to the Dream Cruise for eleven hours when you would much rather take a nap. Love is when you stop calling her, so that she doesn't feel bad about turning you down. It is wanting the best for someone else that leads us to endure the unpleasantness.
Secondly, love is choosing to treat someone like they are perfect, even when we know she is not. It is about forgiveness and being just a little bit delusional. As hackneyed as it may be to write this, 'love keeps no record of wrongs' (1 Cor 13:15 NIV). Forgiving is so much easier if one chooses to forget. Moving onto to the part about being delusional, love is knowing that there might be prettier people on the earth, but preferring to see no one else. Even though I am thinking about romantic love when I use this definition, it does have a broader application. Without being naive, love means giving people the benefit of whatever reasonable doubt exists. In this way, love is seeing the best in people, no matter how hard they make it.
In Gary Chapman's miscellaneous books, he writes about the five love languages. As a marriage counselor, he focuses on the love between two partners. Still, the basic classification transfers over to love that transcends romance. Chapman talks about the five ways that we show love: "acts of service", "gifting", "quality time", "word of affirmation", and "touch"(it is an interesting list to ponder, I have noticed that there is an inverse relationship between the things I am good at and the 'language' that means the most to me). One of the key takeaways from his books is that feeling in-love is one thing and loving someone is someone else. Love becomes a way of thinking and a way of acting, it is a disposition.
So, all in all there is one conclusion on which I stand firm. Love is a verb.
[My apologies for the terrible music videos linked in this post. It started off with the Haddaway reference and then just got out of control after that.]