If Not Love

What if, for some reason, we could no longer use the word love. But, let’s say, we still wanted to convey for ourselves and for others the things love means to us, between us, and about us. 

What words would we choose?

Empathy and compassion strike close to the heart of love. The first implies that we feel what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes especially around their suffering. The second one means that we feel together with another being. Those are good words.  They convey that love is about connecting to others via our feelings. 

Dignity and respect are words we might want to use. If we see the dignity in another, we recognize their value and worth as a human being (not to be confused with how much money or property or talent they have, as in “how much are they worth?”). It’s hard to imagine love being authentic if the beloved is not seen as having an inherent value and worth. Respect is a fun word.  It literally means to look again, or to take a second look. If we respect another being, it means that we have refused to make rash judgments.  We have slowed down. We have really seen them. These two words help us take another person seriously, deeply, and with clarity. 

Honor is a powerful word. If we hold someone in honor, they are important to us, very important. In fact, we might say without much need for explanation that the people we really love are the most honored in our lives. 

Why bother with synonyms for love? When we start the search, it begins to clarify whether we are in an authentic relationship with the beloved or whether we are just using them for some other purpose. 

What are some other words we might use for love?

~Bob Patrick

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2 Responses to If Not Love

  1. Lydia M Patrick says:

    Excellent reflection and absolutely supports the theme for this Sunday’s service!

  2. Katrina says:

    You have distilled the meaning of Love from “cloud 9″ , and brought it to a level that is more manageable for any age person. Love is such an ethereal experience. The synonyms are so much better at pointing out the characteristics of Love, whether they are observable or not. Most people don’t qualify the word Love. I” love you” seems to be all encompassing and should be enough on any level or Age. But Love has many faces and manifestations. I think we all could use clarification and qualifiers if we intend to grow our Love.

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