“You love it,” said Miss Patty with emphasis. “Does that mean that you really love it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they do mean. It wasn’t so in my young days. Then a girl did not say she loved turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island
No other word is quite like love. Synonyms fall short. Used as a noun and as a verb, the word conveys everything from the way I feel about chocolate (dark, please) to the overwhelming emotional attachment I have to my husband, my children, and my parents. Tone of voice can convey differences in meaning when I say the words “I love…,” however those differences are more difficult to distinguish when I write them.
Writing about love requires attention to the writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell.” Gestures and actions speak loudly in the written form, conveying depths and variations of emotion. Two examples follow:
1. I sat in the humid clinic waiting room with my sick child. The hum of Spanish voices rose and fell. Across the room, a young Shuar mother sat silent, holding her baby in her lap. Her face reflected no emotion, but as I watched, she looked down at the little one, cupped one hand around the back of his small head and with the other, gently brushed his hair off his forehead. “Ah,” I thought, “she loves him just as I love my own child.”
2. “Of course I love you,” she said, her eyes darting to the door. “I have to go, can we discuss this later?” She shrugged into her coat, grabbed her purse and left.Actions, gestures, and attitudes reflect the degree of love. Without them, the words, “I love you” echo hollow.
The ultimate gesture of love is provided for us by God, who is Love. All other love pales in comparison. When God says, “I love you,” to me, he’s not just mouthing words. Over and over he shows his love for me, in enormous ways, from the gift of his son, Jesus Christ, to pay for my sin, to the minute details of my life. He wants me to know, to feel, to live his love.
When do I sense God’s love for me? What are the moments when I experience the grace and love of God pouring over me and I feel utterly loved and fulfilled?
* When I’m together with my family. When we sit around the table, eating together, laughing, talking. Watching the little ones. A granddaughter cuddling against my shoulder. Playing games together. Sitting in front of the fire just watching them. I’m overcome with love for my family and with the sense of the love I’ve received from God.God shows his love to me in so many ways. So I love him back. He loved me first, then I loved him. What are the gestures of love in my life that show him that I love him? Obedience, showing grace and mercy to others, spending time talking with him – when it comes to love, actions definitely speak much louder than words.
* When I’m in the garden, the warm sun on my back, my hands in the dirt, planting, weeding, coaxing plants to grow straight, marveling in the potential of each tiny seed.
* On star-filled nights when I look up at the sky and try to grasp that the God who created all of these wonders loves me intensely.