Like many people, I’ve been told a lot of loving words: “I love you,” “I miss you,” “You are important to me,” “I value you being in my life.” And so on and so forth.
Because those words reflected the truth within my own heart, I chose to believe they were also the truth in the hearts of those who spoke them to me. But eventually the words began to ring hollow as I realized that there was no substance, no effort, to give those loving words life.
I think the speakers believed those words as much as I did, and that there was no malicious intent. Their words painted a reality that they wanted to exist, that they truly believed was their heart’s truth. But truth reveals itself not just in what we say, but also in what we do. If faith without works is dead, then so are words without actions. Those dead words led to dead connections, and eventually I learned that I needed to discern the truth of others’ love with more than just my sense of hearing.
Love expresses itself in more than four simple letters. Love is in the time we gift to others. It is in being present in loved ones’ lives and making ourselves available when needed. Love is caring about each other’s well-being, supporting each other’s growth, sharing in each other’s experiences, and being a part (big or small, season or lifetime) of each other’s life journey. Love isn’t just saying. Love is doing. Love is being. Love is presence.
Nowadays, I do more than listen for love. I look for it. I look for the truth of love in the hearts of those who proclaim it in what they do and don’t do. Not to judge or insult or rail against them, but because I know that I am worthy of love that is full and complete. I am worthy of love that has substance. I am worthy of love that is present. And I am worthy of accepting nothing less.
Be well, spirits.