I learned one of the most important lessons of my life in my early 30s. I spent my teens and 20s with a storybook, romantic idea of love. “Love is something that happens to you. You fall in or out of love, almost like having some sort of accident. Fate brings you together or tears you apart.” The common denominator with that whole view of love was that I felt powerless, assigning causation to external forces far beyond my understanding or control.
When I got married, and then especially when I became a father, it slowly began to dawn on me that my view of love was falling woefully short in the real world, and I was creating all sorts of unnecessary problems and barriers in my life simply because I wasn’t fully willing to take responsibility for those I loved.
In my study of Scientology I came across a definition of love that changed my whole world view. It described love as “an affectionate concern” for another person. Well, damn, that didn’t seem very sexy or exciting or anything like the romantic dramedy I’d been living for 30 years. But as I looked at my life and what made me happy and what made others happy, I slowly began to shift my viewpoint from love as a noun—this all consuming force of nature that came in like a hurricane to disrupt things in unpredictable ways—to love as a verb.
What we think and how we feel matter. What we do about it matters even more.
And I finally began to understand that love really is a verb. It’s something you do. It’s something you practice. It’s something you apply in your life in order to achieve the results you’re looking for. Love is going out of my way to fill up my wife’s car with gas so she doesn’t have to think about it. Love is turning off my phone and taking time to read to my son before bed. Falling in love with someone is easy. Maintaining that relationship over a lifetime takes a lot of hard work and conscious effort. And for me there’s nothing in life more satisfying than the relationships I’ve built with my family.
With all of that in mind, I smiled when I came across this article. The penny dropped for me in a new way and I realized that if faith is also a verb, then faith and love have even more in common than I had realized. If love as a verb means an affectionate concern for those in your life you are closest to and care about most, then faith could be said to be love for all mankind and even for the human experience. It’s reaching your arms around the world, across borders and languages and cultures and even the precise tenets of individual religions, to share your affectionate concern for others in a way that transcends and erases the petty differences we seem to hold onto too tightly on planet Earth.
Scientology has given me an outlet, a way to focus my desire to express that affectionate concern for others in the most constructive and helpful way possible. I’ve known people of faith in many different religions who feel the same way about their church and its teachings. Whatever an individual believes, if their actions are guided by an affectionate concern for others, the outcome will always be uplifting for everyone involved. Love is a verb. Faith is a verb. What we think and how we feel matter. What we do about it matters even more.
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