Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Love You

It was an epiphany, an Aha moment as Oprah might say. I was driving to a class where for a week we had been seriously studying twelve abilities that exist in every person, learning how to develop them in ourselves. As happens in many small classes, an intimacy and closeness had developed among the 15 or so students. These twelve abilities include things such as understanding, zeal, the capacity to organize, faith, and love.

It was love that caught my attention that morning. It's a universal emotion, practiced by people the world over. Love one another, the Bible says. Even love your enemies, Jesus added. But why is it so hard for us to tell people that we love them? Is it because the word has been so misused, has so many levels of meaning, can be so easily misunderstood, that we are afraid to use it? I've never told anyone I love them, with the exception of close family members. What would happen if I simply said to people whom I have learned to trust and who trust me, I love you?

After reaching the class I told the person sitting next to me what I'd been thinking about and then added, I love you. Her response was, Thank you. I love you too.

This is great! I thought. I turned to the person on the other side of me and said, I love you. Again the response was, Thank you. I love you too.

A few hours later the class was finished and the students were all saying good-bye to each other. As I shook the hand or embraced each one I repeated the same phrase.  I love you. The reply was always the same. Thank you. I love you too.

The thought came to me strong, like a river. You should tell the teacher that you love him. And I suddenly felt a strange resistance, a lack of comfort.

The teacher is gay. I'm a 65-year old straight guy. What was going to happen when I walked up to him and told him I loved him? And why was I suddenly feeling so uncomfortable?

I realized that his response no matter what was beyond my control, not my responsibility, but I needed to do what I was feeling an urge to do. I walked up to him, waited until he finished the text he was sending and looked up to me, and then said, Thank you. I love you.

I'm not always good at reading emotions on people's faces, but something came across his. He stood up and said to me, Is that worth a hug? And we exchanged a warm embrace.

At lunch a few minutes later, he came up and sat next to me at the picnic table where we were eating our sandwiches. With the other people sitting there, we had a good conversation.

Would he have felt as welcome to sit next to me at the table if I hadn't told him I loved him? I'm not sure, but I'm sure glad he did. 

3 comments:

Katie said...

Isn't love a verb, an action? Saying I love you to people you meet in a class has no significance if you aren't acting in love toward those closest to you.

aemish said...

AWESOME!!

Thank you for reminding us to exercise our love muscles :D

Bukhari Muslim said...

1 Corinthians 13


Love

13 I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. 3 I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned.[a] But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me.

4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. 5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. 6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

8 Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used. 9 Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. 10 But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. 12 Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.

13 So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.

Now read Acts 5:1-11.

Where was the LOVE?