Although it is only day 2 of blogging, I spent a good deal of the day pondering what might be the topic for today. Taking the city bus or metro provides me with plenty of opportunity for prayer and thought. I was unsure of what I'd be inspired to write about until about an hour ago. The most recent Catholic High School I worked for was amazing at encouraging both teachers and students to build personal enduring relationships. Within a few months of me working there back in 2004 it seemed like a perfect fit, especially this relationship building. The reason why I say this is because to this day I still keep in good contact with a number of my former students whom I like to call friends now. Since I live in DC, it is easy for me to visit them at their local universities or for them to visit me. It is nice to catch up on what's going on in their classes, lives, and such and share stories of times shared in high school and of the goings on now. It is a good inexpensive distraction (so far I haven't had to buy a meal while there) for me and allows our connections to stay more real. Our conversations vary from fun banter to even serious discussions, ones you wish you had more time to discuss and not have to leave to catch metro home. Tonight was one of those nights and I wish I had more time to talk to A since we were discussing some fundamental questions of God, faith and truth. But it wasn't any of these specific topics that lead me to today's thoughts. I don't remember the context, but within the discussion sort of as an initial good-bye, you know the kind of good-bye that lasts another 15 minutes before leaving, that kind of initial goodbye, I said to A, "I love you." A's response was, "yeah, I like you too." Being the kind of person I am, I retorted, "that's nice, you like me." A chuckled and said, "well people use that too easily." WOW, was he right! In fact, that's exactly how I feel too, is what I told him.
I grew up my whole life being told by my mom and dad of how much they love me, usually accompanied by beautiful expressions of that love, such as a hug or a kiss or both. See, for me the issue was that although my parents did and said this I often doubted their sincerity since, for the most part their actions said something else. Firstly, I have little to no recollection of my parents prior to age 8. So although my mom my have said and showed her love, why would she clearly choose things contrary to love. Things that would hurt me more than help me. The words did not match the other actions. My dad was the same way. Being of Italian decent, or at least Italian-American, or maybe just my family, expressions of love between father and son such as a kiss or hug were very common and certainly expected and not limited to just father-son relationships, but extended to grandfather-grandson, uncle-nephew and so on. But again, my father's actions and choices for him and for me seemed to contradict what he would often tell me. This is probably why I have such a hard time at expressing my love, as some of my friends would say. I seem the hardest on those to whom I am closest to and I'm much less expressive to them as well. There is a cliche that "Love is fickle." That's garbage, love is not fickle, lust is. We often confuse love for lust, and when people say "I love you," what they really mean is either, "I lust you, or I like you alot for right now." Love is not a mere feeling. Love is action, love is sacrifice. Love is a person. Love is truth. Love tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Love hurts, for it is often painful to do what is best and what is right, than to do what is common. Love is not hallmark cards, teddy bears, and candy. Yes, these are nice expressions, but this is not real, it is not authentic. It certainly is not "what can you do for me" mentality. A true measure of love is if there are appropriate actions along with appropriate words at the right time. I can't stand when people say they love you, yet never show it. Say what you mean and mean what you say, btw, coined by Jesus Christ, "Let your no mean no and your yes mean yes." Being a child of addicts one learns not to use the words flippantly, being a son of God, one learns that love is forgiveness, understanding, sacrifice, grace, joy and so on. I've learned to say and mean those three words to my family, friends, and yes, even students. For when I utter these words I also understand what's really behind them. For when I say it, I mean it.