Define Love

As we move into the month of February, our thoughts (and hearts) move to the subject of love. As believers, we turn to the Bible and immediately encounter questions. What does it mean when Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” Our response is immediate and totally understandable in today’s society.

Love my enemy? Won’t that leave me vulnerable? Open to actions of someone who by definition is my enemy- someone who does not have my best interests at heart. You say that you’ve been hurt before and because you have tried to love your enemies, you have pain and would rather place your heart behind a strong shield of protection. Sounds reasonable, understandable and even practical until you glance up on the hill to see the stark symbol of love and humility as the very Son of God hangs naked on a cross. Vulnerable? You bet. Unprotected? Hardly.

What Jesus knew and we are learning is that in countering hatred with love there is strength. In forgiving the previously “unforgivable” we offer the world around us a glimpse at a God who is our Protector and our Rock when all around us is unsteady. During this month, you will demonstrate love and you will receive love. Each can serve as a unique confirmation to your heart and spirit that God is love. We need not look any further than the cross to know for certain and for eternity that we have never been unloved. We have never been forgotten. Uncertain as to how to extend or receive love? We need look no further than 1 Corinthians 13.
What is love?
How is it expressed?
How do you see love expressed by those closest to you?

Some pretty heady questions, so we turned to some experts- you!

Zac Archuleta
Love to me is a constant act of loving something/someone unconditionally, through the good and the bad. Like the love Christ has ­­ for us. The most inspirational act of love I’ve experienced is the love that my parents have given my brother, sister and I through the difficulties.
I feel loved when I spend time with loved ones and hear encouraging words.

Jack (5 year old)
I like to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is fun and that’s all. You can tell someone loves you because they hug you. Everyone in my family loves me. They don’t give me flowers but they give me presents and hugs. I want to hug Jesus but he’s in heaven so I can only touch my heart where he is.
I know that God loves me just because I know. He made everything and He also made the food and the candies so I know he loves me. I love to do everything except for go in fire or a tornado. I have nothing else to say about love.

Leslie Negib
I think there are many different facets to describing the term “love” and to pinpoint a summative definition is difficult. This is sourced in how one determines to use the term. For instance, I “love” Emma Blue, my precious princess kitten. I also “love” the Victorian Gothic genre. Additionally, I “love” my friends and family.  Therefore, I would say love is a term that people (including myself) loosely use to indicate a positive correlation between themselves and a person, place, thing, or idea. The better question would be, ‘What does it mean to love?” All malarkey aside, I would ultimately say that “to love” a person would mean making a conscious and determined choice to be present for a person. At the end of the day, regardless of what life brings, am I 100% in and will I go the distance? When I say “100% in”, I mean with my heart and actions.
Most Inspirational Act of Love?
A few years back I was head-over-heels for a guy. I mean, I could barely put a sentence together in the presence of this person. I’m sure I even drooled a couple of times. I was totally incapable of being raw and honest about what was in my heart and it was the complete opposite for him. It irks me that I can be so bold in many areas, but so timid with my heart. One day, and totally unexpectedly, he openly poured his heart out to me and was utterly raw with his heart. I thought it was a rare moment and one that left me feeling totally justified and validated as a woman, and albeit…a little scared.
What made it an “inspirational act of love” was how unplanned and raw the entire moment was.

Alan Davidson
That is something you could write volumes about and never be able to truly define. To me, love is not saying “I love you” or lavishing someone with gifts etc. but it stretches beyond what you or I could define by words, objects, or descriptions. It is to invest your heart and soul into another human being not expecting the same in return and to put him or her before yourself regardless of what others may think or say. It is as close to a leap of faith as you could get without actually falling off anything.

People often say that there is “someone perfect for me somewhere”, and maybe that is true. The way I see it, the imperfections and eccentricities in each of us are what people really fall in love with. I’d also like to think that perhaps there is someone out there who will fall in love with mine.

Amanda Jenea
I don’t feel you can put a definition to love. You can’t force love and you can’t learn to love.
If you love something, you don’t have a choice in loving it. You just do. True love is a completely involuntary emotion that one feels deep throughout their heart, soul, bones, mind and body. Like God’s love for us. I think I’d have to say the most inspirational act of love I’ve experienced is the daily acts and struggles of my mother.  She is a single mom to me and two younger brothers. My 14 year old brother has mental disabilities and my other younger brother is only 7 years old. She has raised us by herself since the time I was 5. My mom is also a nurse, and delivers babies to families each and every day.
Even though she has no companion, and is usually handed dirty socks and homework packets rather than roses and perfume, my mom still takes care of us everyday, giving us all the love and care she has even while times were stressful and rough. This is really inspiring to me, because I see how easy it could be to just give up, but my mom never has… and that’s because of the true and unconditional love she has for the three of us and that I am extremely thankful for.

Julianne Nowak
I would define love the way God does in His word in 1Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Love is caring for someone more than yourself and giving of youself without expecting anything in return.
The most inspirational act of love I have experienced is something I experience every day. My mom sacrifices her time each day to homeschool my sisters and I. I know if we were in school she could get a lot more done even though she would still have my little brother to take care of. So instead of doing the easier thing and send us to school she chose to give of herself and homeschool us. I am so glad my mom made that decision because I get to be with my family every day! What makes me feel most loved is when someone spends quality time with me. They are giving of their time to be with just me and that makes me feel special. I feel important and loved because they are making a sacrifice from their busy lives to spend alone time with me. We have time to talk and share things with each other that we might not have time to in every day life. I love spending quality time with my mom and dad most of all!!

Alisha Fugazi
Love to me is someone who you can trust fully and confide in and share anything with them. Your whole world stops when you’re with them and when you kiss them you get this feeling of utter calmness and completeness.

Cory Nickols
Love is sacrifice.  It is putting someone else’s needs above my own even if I don’t “feel” like it.  Love equals quality time.  If I love someone, then I want to spend time getting to know her, discovering her likes and dislikes, her passions in life, her goals and dreams and her fears.  Love is showing mercy to someone.  It is overlooking her faults and seeing the best in her.  After all, I would want the same for me.
In my darkest hour and at the lowest point of my life, God was not ashamed to draw near to me.  I felt so worthless and judged, but I experienced a hand of mercy from Jesus Christ.  I heard Him say to me, “I came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captive free.”  Experiencing this act of love empowered me and released me to express it toward others who did not deserve it.  Life truly is worth living!
I feel loved and valued when people give me a compliment, say affirming words or just want to spend time with me.

Juda Myers
Alone, walking home from a late night movie my birth mother encountered eight men at a street corner. They beat her and raped her. Ashamed and wounded inside and out she left St. Louis, MO. where she worked as nanny and moved back home to MS. with her parents. She kept her attack a secret until she found out she was pregnant with me. Her parents didn’t believe her and her own mother insisted she abort me even though abortion was not legal at the time. She knew without a doubt she could not “destroy” me. She said she even took her parents to a priest for help and they refused to listen. She managed to get to a safe place where I was born and placed for adoption with the help of the priest and a Methodist minister. She is my hero. That says love as loudly as can be, along with my adoptive parents who raised me as their own. I knew no difference in their love and the love of what others mistakenly call “real parents”. They were my real parents because they loved me as their own. Together my birth mother and my adoptive parents gave me a love that reflected God who created me. Sacrificial and without regrets, all my parents demonstrated true love in action.

Nicole Oliva
Love is the most amazing action and feeling a person could ever experience.  In it’s truest form, it keeps no record of wrongs, it’s pure and undefiled, it ‘s patient and kind, it stands in the gap for someone and sacrifices everything when no one else will, like Jesus did on the cross for our sins. Love is something you experience when your family and friends choose to stick by your side, no matter what the opposition is. It sees the best in a person, even when they can’t see it in themselves. I will personally know true love when I feel free to share my heart completely with a man,  not fearing what he will do with the treasures I have kept locked away till he has come along .

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