On an ordinary Thursday, my husband surprised me with flowers, and I felt loved on a day when I was weary from work. Ten days later, the beautiful bouquet of red and white carnations still makes me smile.
That’s the beauty of love. It does stuff. Like bringing flowers. A simple way of letting someone know you care. Flowers say, “You were on my mind and in my heart.”
My husband knows that doing something special for the woman who still laughs at his terrible jokes after 44 years of marriage and reaches out to hold his hand in the middle of the night, is just another way of saying, “I love you.”
To say, “I love” is easy. Love in action is harder.
We can easily get busy with life and not notice the needs of others. It takes a little effort to brighten someone’s day. A smile, a hug, a cup of coffee and a listening ear, an email, text or small gift can make a difference.
New York Times bestselling author, Bob Goff, bases his book, “Love Does” on the premise that love is an action. While many of us desire to feel love, Goff reminds us that love does things.
“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget,” says Goff.
He said each time we pass on the chance to do loving things, we pass on the chance to cross over to a new attitude toward a life full of imagination, wonder and love.
The word “love” expresses many meanings and feelings. It is used to express affection (I love you), but it also expresses pleasure (I love chocolate). The “love” you feel for a spouse is not the same as the love you feel for your mother. Even the deep love you have for your spouse can change over time. There are varied expressions of love for different situations and people. But still, we use the same word. I can say “I love you” to two different people (and mean it) but feel differently.
To make things even more complicated, the word “love” also expresses a human virtue based on compassion, affection and kindness. This is considered the purest form of love.
Surprisingly, love was defined in a Super Bowl commercial. The ad, titled “Agape,” explores different types of love and highlights love in action.
The New York Life ad takes viewers back to ancient Greece to demonstrate how much a driving force love is in our lives by describing four Greek words. “Philia” is love that grows from friendship, “Storge” is love you have for a grandparent or brother, “Eros” is romantic love, and “Agape,” a different kind of love, is the most admirable.
The ad focuses on “agape” with scenes of people helping others. It’s an adult son giving his elderly father a bath, a group of kids shaving their heads in solidarity with a friend who has cancer, a parent rushing out the door to get the kids to school on time and all the things we do for people we love that take “courage, sacrifice and strength.” The ad ends with the proposition that living a life of “agape” is a life well-lived.
Some may recognize the words for love used in the ad as the same Greek words used for love in the classic book by C.S. Lewis, “The Four Loves,” where agape is described as selfless, the kind of love God has for us and the love he commands us to have for one another.
I witnessed Agape “love in action” this past Sunday here in Morganton. Forty-two youths from three downtown churches, First Baptist, First United Methodist and First Presbyterian participated in “The Souper Bowl of Caring” to benefit Burke United Christian Ministries.
The Souper Bowl of Caring, a national campaign for 30 years, utilizes the Super Bowl in America as a time to mobilize young people to tackle hunger in their communities. It is the second largest food drive each year for BUCM, surpassed only by Stamp Out Hunger drive sponsored by the US Postal Service.
The week before Super Bowl Sunday, the three congregations collected food and monetary donations. On Sunday, the youth groups gathered for lunch after church and then spread out in teams to assigned neighborhoods collecting canned goods for the BUCM food pantry. After weighing in their delivery, they sorted and put the food on the shelves.
“What a blessing it is to have amazing young people in the community working together to serve others,” said Elizabeth Norris, BUCM assistant director.
BUCM reported outstanding results. Donations of 2,422 pounds of food and $7,186 were contributed. The event wouldn’t be possible without people committed to loving their neighbors through acts of service.
Love in action is a force of good, freely given because it feels like the right thing to do. Recipients are always delighted, and like the memory of my flowers, the feel-good feeling lasts for days.