When I was a child, I thought love was a noun.
It was abstract and somewhat nebulous. A feeling. It’s what all the characters in my childhood movies sought and found.
I based a lot of my expectations of dating and marriage on love defined as a noun. When I married, I stumbled into the realization that genuine love is actually a verb.
It’s not like I hadn’t experienced genuine love before, because I had. My parents are model examples of love as a verb. They worked tirelessly to show me Love by providing for me, teaching me, cherishing me, and sacrificing for me. I reaped all the benefits of their love but didn’t provide, teach, cherish, or sacrifice for my parents the way they did for me so I didn’t really understand it.
Until I got married. I couldn’t just receive love as a verb in order for our relationship to thrive, I needed to give it, too.
With each child my husband and I brought into the world, we were pushed to our limits of love as a verb. With every 2 am bottle, every patient reaction to a temper tantrum, and every sacrifice made so that our children would be provided and cared for, we lived love.
Love as a verb and not a noun is something I’ve thought a lot about over the last couple of months. If I say I love my family and my community, but I don’t show it, then it’s just an abstract: love as a noun. A meaningless love.
If I say I love my family and my community and I show it, that’s love as a verb; it’s making a difference.
There’s a lot to navigate in our lives right now. How do we support and embrace people of color in our communities? How do we protect and care for our most vulnerable in the midst of a pandemic? How do we juggle and balance our families’ needs while working from home?
I’ve wrestled with these questions and many more, and I don’t have all the answers. I think it’s nuanced and looks different for each of us because of our past experiences, our current relationships, and our skill sets, but I know that love requires action. And I know that I love my family and my community so I will listen, ask questions, and act to show my love.
I want to be patient and kind when others are honest and hurting. I want to honor others and not focus on myself in everyday conversations or on social media. I want to stay level-headed when discussions heat up and not hold past poor decisions against anyone, including myself. I want us all to be a community that draws together to protect, trust, hope, and persevere. Because love is a verb.