Check out all the definitions for the word, "love:"
(as defined at Dictionary.com)
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
8. (initial capital letter) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
11. the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
12. the benevolent affection of god for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
13. Chiefly Tennis . a score of zero; nothing.
14. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.
–verb (used with object)
15. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
16. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
17. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
18. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
19. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
20. to have sexual intercourse with.
–verb (used without object)
21. to have love or affection for another person; be in love.
22. love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets.
23. for love,a. out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
b. without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.
24. for the love of, in consideration of; for the sake of: For the love of mercy, stop that noise.
25. in love, infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: a youth always in love.
26. in love with, feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); enamored of: in love with the girl next door; in love with one's work.
27. make love,
a. to embrace and kiss as lovers. b. to engage in sexual activity.
28. no love lost, dislike; animosity: There was no love lost between the two brothers.
No wonder relationships are complicated.
I remember when I was young, oh, junior high & high school aged. I remember when I got a crush on some girl and told a friend I was crushing. Every time I told the friend, before long, the crush found out and I swear each and every time they never spoke to me again. Man, teenagers are cruel. Anyway, now that I look back on my junior & high school days, I think these major tragedies affected who I am today. I say major tragedies because at the time I was devastated. I was also young, naive and, geez I just wanted a girlfriend so bad.
Ha! In thinking back on those misadventures, I remember telling a few girls that I loved them. Not that we were dating or anything, just friends. Though, more than I few times, I certainly wished our relationship was more than just friends. Funny how they never seemed to realize that... or maybe they ignored that part of it. I don't know. But, maybe the end result was that I built walls around my heart.
Or maybe I just believed that love happens the way it does in the movies. Hopeless romantic...
Now, I am pretty sure about love and how it happens. I do believe in love at first sight. But that is not necessarily everlasting love. No, everlasting love is something you choose. Love is a decision and you choose to stay in it or choose to fall out of it. It's work.
What was my original point? Oh yes, walls around my heart... I think how this effected me is perhaps I don't tell the people I love - no matter how that love manifests - that I do love them. Sure, I tell my wife I love her at the end of phone calls, or as we say good night. But, that's not the same thing as letting a person know you love them, is it?
I hope my actions speak for me, but maybe that's not enough. While working on this show ("Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl), the subject matter is starting to make me think that I need to embrace the love I have for the people in my life and let them know that I do love them.
Maybe it's the fear of rejection why I don't. Stupid as it sounds, I've been married for nearly 10 years and I'm still a little afraid to say "I love you" at a meaningful time. My friends are my friends because I love them, but how weird would it be for me to tell them that? What's the harm? Is it completely inappropriate to tell your friends that you love them?
The conclusion I am coming to is that it shouldn't be. Somehow, society has twisted the word "love" to mean the affection couples share for each other. For some reason, "love" is exclusive to couples. Why is that?
I was re-reading Don Miller's "Blue Like Jazz," and he states (correctly) that we are called to love everyone like Jesus did. Not to make this a Jesus-moment, but really what is wrong with that sentiment?
Those bricks in my wall are slowly coming down. Brick by brick, friend by friend, love by love, the wall is crumbling and there's nothing wrong with that. Love is more than a word. It's how I feel.