Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Love is a verb | TSLN.com

Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Love is a verb

"You can't make a person love someone." I was told a couple weeks back, followed by a long dissertation on why it really was alright, likely best, that one spouse had left another.

It has weighed heavily on my mind since. It weighs on me every time I hear that little frequently tossed about phrase. It's correct in that neither you, nor I, can make a person love another.

But, frankly, we shouldn't have to.

Love was never designed to solely be an emotion, though people have fallen into the trap of limiting it to just that since the beginning of time.

Love is so much more. One of the best ways I've ever heard it described is that love is a verb. It is a decision leading to action chosen over and over again, despite what our human emotions feel at a given time.

The Bible backs the statement of love being a verb repeatedly with verses that say, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink," in Romans and, "Do good to those who hate you, bless those to curse you, pray for those who mistreat you," in Luke. In John, God's expression of love to his people is demonstrated by sending his only Son into the world that we may live through him. On the more romantic side, the well-known passage in 1 Corinthians says, "Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

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All those verses and more explain love through actions and decisions designed to strengthen us and create habits that prevent us from falling into the trap of limiting love to emotion.

That's a tough road, though. Deep stuff. I've fallen short countless times myself. It also goes against the grain that today's society holds so dear; that we should be able to do what we want, when we want. That mindset is a disaster in many ways, one being that it promotes following emotion, which is so often a short-term, knee-jerk thing for we humans.

Our emotions don't think about next week or year, nor do they always take into consideration last week or last year. Emotions are right here and right now, which can cause big issues beyond the here and now.

Thinking of love as a verb has been a perspective changer for me, particularly in the area of marriage. Purposely and actively loving my spouse, even on the days I don't "feel" like it, makes a big difference. I am learning there is real return in treating love as more than just a feeling, and in actively doing all you can to prevent yourself from becoming a person that cannot be made to love another.