Joe passed away in January. He and his wife were in the 6th decade of their marriage, and in that decade, they had begun a tradition of driving to Branson, Missouri once or twice a year to hear a particular singer perform. All the way there – about 7 hours – they’d play her albums. Once there, her show was always the highlight of their trip. And all the way back – you guessed it – they’d listen to the albums again, noting the songs they’d heard live.
Here’s my favorite part: I don’t think Joe liked the singer. Whenever he would talk about their trips, he’d talk about how much his wife loved the singer, how much she looked forward to the trips, and how much she loved listening to the albums again and again.
I have a friend who’s started an amazing web project, Can you define love? Hundreds of people – folks of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs – have submitted a statement, image, or video that defines love to them. As you might expect, they’re all over the place:
From the clinical…
To the spiritual…
To the awesomely clever.
So, can you define love?
See, sometimes love is mysterious. It’s abstract and hard to pin down. You feel it, just because you feel it. It’s mushy and surprising and makes your face turn red. And all of that is wonderful.
But deep, lasting love is also incredibly concrete. Particular. Specific. You know it the second you see it because it’s not just a feeling, it’s a choice.
Sometimes love is a trip to Branson.
When I met Felton and his wife they were both in their nineties. They’d been married 70+ years. And as long as anyone could remember (including them!), each morning Felton drove to McDonalds and ordered an Egg McMuffin, brought it home, and cut it in half so they could both have breakfast without his wife having to cook.
Sometimes love is half an Egg McMuffin.
A college friend just downgraded to a cheaper cell phone plan and an older phone. This is one of many small sacrifices he’s making so that when his kids, toddlers now, graduate high school, there will be money to send them to college.
Sometimes love is a really crappy cell phone.
Another friend has organized a small army of volunteers who go to laundromats around town once a month, offering to pay for everyone’s laundry. No agenda, just quarters and soap. (Find out more here)
Sometimes love is a clean basket of clothes.
Love takes on many forms, but that’s exactly the point – Love takes on forms. It doesn’t stay abstract and hypothetical for long. No, it oozes out of decisions small and large to make a real and visible difference in the world.
For those who know the story of the Bible, this makes perfect sense. One scripture puts it this way, “God is love… [and] we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:8-19) In other words, we learn this “love” thing from God, and God didn’t leave his love in the realm of the hypothetical. No, he put it on display for the world to see. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Sometimes love is a cross.
Can you define love? You better, for whatever love is, it’s not hypothetical.
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