I read a book a couple weeks ago now, perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called Love Does, by Bob Goff. It’s one of those books that recently took off within the Christian community leaving a decent amount of buzz lingering in its wake. As soon as I learned of its existence, it seemed that at every turn I was seeing it in someone’s hands, under someone’s nose, on the tip of someone’s tongue, or sandwiched within someone’s well-read book shelf. All the reviews were coming back with striking positivity indicating a must-read, so I borrowed it from a friend and gave it my full attention. It was a very quick and easy read, in fact, a lot of the time, it felt like a children’s book. And while I found my expectations for the book, at best, mildly deflated as I closed the cover on the final page, I did find myself chewing on a few concepts afterward that I found compelling and worth sharing. But first, let’s take a quick trip back to 10th-grade grammar:
If you look up the grammatical classification for the word love, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to discover that it’s technically a verb. However, what I find tremendously frustrating is that it is inevitably always classified as a stative verb. Now, for those of you who actively blocked out everything you ever learned in your 10th-grade English class, consider this quick recap on the difference between stative and dynamic verbs:
Stative Verbs are used to describe a state of being, an opinion, a mental state, or a static relationship.
Dynamic Verbs are used to describe an action or something that happens. They are used in the progressive or continuous tense.
Now I’ll admit, this can be a tricky argument to make due to the fact that it could be argued that love ought to be a stative verb because it describes an opinion or unchanging emotion. But I wonder, is unchanging the same as enduring? And I realize I’m taking liberties here, so for all you writers and grammar-obsessive literary buffs out there, I simply ask that you track with me for a bit before you completely write me off… pun intended.
In the book Love Does, Bob Goff, through a memoir-reminiscent narrative, drives home his point, story after story, that love is not stationary or static. It doesn’t simply think about doing things, nor is it a synonym for pity or sympathy, and it certainly does not sit idly by waiting for the stars to align just so before it takes its first cautious step forward. No, love does. Period. Love is dynamic, it is forward-thinking, it is moving, growing, stretching, risk-taking, courageous and bold, and is distinctly characterized by action above all. Bob has lived his life by way of this mantra, and not surprisingly, has conquered some incredible feats and roadblocks, helping reduce many great evils and injustices in the world all because he was catapulted forward by a love that wells up within him from the deepest parts of his being; the source of course being the very presence of God dwelling inside him. This kind of love overflows and invariably causes an outpouring of the same love on others. This love produces fruit.
Love- real, authentic, genuine love, the kind that seeps through your bones and out your pours, that prompts you to lay down and crucify your selfishness daily in order to serve another, stands in stark contrast to the rather hackneyed, “hey, I really love chocolate!” or the “I love you [as long as] you love me” conditional kind of love. Real love is enduring. And for love to be enduring, it can’t be static, because life is not static. If you have ever been fortunate enough to experience or witness this kind of love over the course of time, then you know that the love that existed from the initial spark is not the same love that burns years later. The source may be the same, but the character of the love has changed, matured, endured painful pruning, and resurrected out of ashes. If it is truly love, it has made a long journey from the starting line, and you can bet it bears scars brilliantly and unabashedly.
Okay- you’re probably asking yourself right now, “So what? What does it matter what kind of verb category it falls under?” Fair question.
It doesn’t actually.
What bothers me is not how the word is classified. What saddens me is that for many of us, our attitudes and opinions toward love tend to reflect this classification with startling accuracy. I hear people all of the time, in the aftermath of a failed marriage or relationship, saying things such as, “we just sort of fell out of love,” or, “we were so young,” as though love were some fickle garment we put on for a season and shed once it’s out of fashion, or not as comfortable or exciting as it once was. We treat it like it’s a feeling or a “state of being,” an emotion that comes and goes. It’s the one thing we’re cautious to give away, and the very thing the world is in desperate need of. But what is really being communicated in these times where love is being tested is, “I really just love me.” And because we are driven to protect ourselves, we love others as a means of loving ourselves, because it benefits us, or makes us feel a particular way. However, sadly, this is not really love at all. It’s selfishness masquerading around as love. And it can be very convincing.
But love, in actuality, is self-sacrificing, and thus is characterized by action because it is not paralyzed by fear, caught up in protecting self. It is dynamic. It rolls with the punches, it turns the other cheek, it endures the hard times and celebrates the good ones, it transforms itself to fit all sorts of circumstances through all sorts of seasons, and in the end… it never fails. But don’t take my word for it:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8
And so I digress. Call me crazy, but love… regardless of what grammar 101 says, is a dynamic verb. May we treat it as such and live lives of service in light of love, because Love, my friends, Does.