Have you ever felt loved? No, really loved?
I want you to relax in an uninterrupted moment, in a quiet place, and to close your eyes right now, and before even reading any further, to answer this question: Have I ever felt really loved?
Now are you relaxed, in an uninterrupted moment with no cell phones ringing or texting or visitors calling?
Now close your eyes again, but this time even tighter, and really reflect on this question. Have I ever in my life felt really loved?
Recall (or imagine if you cannot remember; both are equally important) a time you felt really loved whether by God, your parents, siblings, friends, or foes.
Now write down at least three times you have felt really loved recently, in the past, or in your childhood experience.
What were your three? What needs in you did they meet?
These were my three —
• I felt really loved by God this year in, of all places, Times Square on New Year’s Eve. You see, I got to see the ball drop in person with my son and his fiancée. I had always wanted to be there with the millions of other people cheering in the New Year, and this year I was! However, what made it even more special was although I was willing to brave the bitter cold to be there, God blessed me with being able to watch the whole event from the comfort of my son’s friend’s warm 42nd Street office!
• I felt really loved by my godmother when she complimented the way I peeled and arranged an orange on a plate. Shari’s observation of my creativity with such a small and insignificant thing made me feel so loved, appreciated, and affirmed. I have received many negative and “you are not good enough” messages in my life, and her comment that day really transformed the way I saw myself.
• I felt really loved by the many good gifts I received the Christmas of 1998. It was my first Christmas after being accepted to both Yale Divinity School and Howard School of Medicine. My husband gave me a 1994 BMW and my first laptop, and then my dad took my sister and me on an amazing shopping spree in the largest mall on Long Island! I also received the sacred gift of Christmas in feeling the profound love of God from the story of Jesus’ birth and the deep love and connection I felt to my family and friends.
Love that really loves comes in many different forms, doesn’t it?
I have found that Love that really Loves touches our core needs as living beings in this physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual universe we live in.
Love that really loves touches our core need to connect and belong, to be recognized and affirmed, and helps us identify the purpose of meaning of our lives. And Love that really loves contributes to our overall well-being and lets us know that God loves us, our spouses love us, and our family and friends love us individually, and we are special.
However, many of us have also experienced “love” that does not love at all. We have experienced the “love” that hates. The “love” that abuses, neglects, and leaves our souls wilted, our hearts broken, and our minds full of doubt, worry, and fear. What’s up with that kind of “love”?
Well, what I would like us to remember today is that love is both a noun and a verb. Love is defined at Merriam-Webster.com, and according to the website today, love is in the top one percent of all words looked up on the site and is the sixth most popular word. That fact made me cry because so many are looking for love.
As a noun, love is defined as a profound and tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection as for a parent, child, or friend; or the unselfish and benevolent concern for the good of another; and the concern of God for humankind.
But love is also a verb that implies action toward a beloved.
Rumi, a Sufi Muslim who lived during the 13th century, said of love and the beloved:
Everything is the Beloved, and the lover is but a veil;
The Beloved is alive, While the lover is dead.
Love has also been defined in sacred writings.
The Bible defines love as a verb. It says:
Love is patient,
Love is kind.
Love does not seek its own but bears all things.
Love does not boast nor is love puffed up.
And where there is faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.
And the text also identifies the ontological nature of God as love.
So I would like to challenge you this week to turn this essay around and to use the noun love as a verb and to really love everyone you meet, because we all need to feel really loved!