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 – theyʼd play her albums. Once there, her show was always the highlight of their trip. And all the way back – you guessed it – theyʼd listen to the albums again, noting the songs theyʼd heard live.
Hereʼs my favorite part: I donʼt think Joe liked the singer. Whenever he would talk about their trips, heʼd 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 think the title of this site makes for an interesting challenge: Can you deﬁne love? In part, my response is, “You better.”
See, sometimes love is mysterious. Itʼs abstract and hard to pin down. You feel it, just because you feel it. Itʼs 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 itʼs not just a feeling, itʼs a choice.
Sometimes love is a trip to Branson.
When I met Felton and his wife they were both in their nineties. Theyʼd 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 heʼs 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 everyoneʼs laundry. No agenda, just quarters and soap. (You can ﬁnd out more at facebook.com/laundrylove.)
Sometimes love is a clean basket of clothes.
Love takes on many forms, but thatʼs exactly the point – Love takes on forms. It doesnʼt 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.
I write this as a Christian, and I think what Iʼm saying sticks pretty close to the center of the Christian faith. 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 didnʼt 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, itʼs not hypothetical.