When God created creation, He did it by speaking things into existence. Genesis teaches us that God said "Let there be light, and there was light." Likewise, human co-creators have been endowed with this awesome power of speech. In fact, the Hebrew words Abra Cadabra mean, "I will create as I speak." And yet humans seem to be haphazard with their speech. We say things we don't mean and we mean things we don't say. One of my teachers says about the power of speech that, "The tongue is not like a sword, that when one goes to lift it up against another, one may change one's mind and put it back in it's sheath. The tongue is like a bullet, once it is fired, there is no retrieval." From Avraham Greenbaum's Wings of the Sun. Therefore we must carefully calculate not only every word we utter but also our tone of voice and body language when we deliver it so as to not hurt someone else's feelings.
There are many sayings from many traditions regarding the power of speech including the wisdom of silence. Sometimes biting our tongue when we want to say something is the more enlightened and appropriate path. We often say things that were better unsaid and we also often fail to say important things such as "I am sorry, I was wrong, please, thank you, and I love you." Why is it so hard for us to say or not to say the right thing?
The particular speech issue that I wish to address in this discourse is when strangers or acquaintances profess the words, "I love you" to me.
I recently took a Landmark Education class and one of the participants went on and on professing his love to and for all the individuals in the class. Honestly, when complete or virtual strangers tell me that they "love" me, it makes me want to barf in my mouth a little bit. Okay, I am exaggerating to make a point and I am sorry for my over-dramatization but let me explain why it's so bothersome to me...
To me, loving someone means something very specific. Regardless of whether it is romantic love, familial love, or neighborly love, Love bears a HUGE responsibility. Love is not to be taken lightly. Love is a not only a profound and powerful emotion, it is also a verb describing certain specific and significant ACTIONS that people take when they are affected by such a condition. These actions include nurturing the love by virtue of communication with the beloved and by providing evidence for its continued existence! I don't need a reason to love someone but when I say I love someone it means I will be there for them. It means they are important to me. It means I care for their greatest good and more.
When people toss around, "I love you" today, I think what they really mean to say is, "I hold you in unconditional positive regard." And that's great. In fact, it is lovely, and yet it's not love.
I wish I could find that guy from my Landmark class and ask him precisely what did he mean when he proclaimed that he loved me (and everyone else in the class). Does it mean that he:
1. Would cook me Kosher chicken soup when I am sick?
2. Would pick me up or take me to the airport at 3 or 4am?
3. Would take me to the dentist and wait patiently for me to have my wisdom teeth extracted and then drive me home because I would still be under the effect of the general anesthesia and unable to drive?
4. Would he humor my cranky attitude as the drugs were wearing off?
5. Would he love me, listen to me, and humor me when I was at my worst? Heart-broken? Angry? Irritated, or Exhausted?
6. Would he go out of his way and inconvenience himself and sacrifice of himself for me or for my sake?
7. Would he do something he had no interest in doing because it was important to me?
8. Would he fight for my honor and defend me when I am not there?
9. Would he support causes that are important to me?
10. Would he lend me some money if I needed it?
11. Would he help me move my home or office?
12. Would he fix or wash my car or help me with chores?
13. Does he even know anything about what matters to me? Who I am? What I stand for?
14. Would he help promote by business as if it were his own?
15. Would he go to family events with me such as holidays?
16. Would he babysit my dog (if I had one) when I went out of town?
17. Would he take care of me if I couldn't take care of myself?
18. Would he even be able to prioritize me in his busy schedule?
19. Would he stand by me when I have to go to court?
20. Would he be willing to allow himself to be embarrassed for me?
To that classmate of mine:
Those are all ways to show me that you love me and if you're not interested or not willing to do them then you have absolutely no business abusing your power of speech and creating an illusion that has no weight and no meaning. Your words are vapor. You are not a creator, you are an illusionist, and how on earth can I even trust you if what you say is not true? It doesn't make me feel good, it does just the opposite.
Relationships are built on trust and trust is gained by being impeccable with your word, as Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book the 4 Agreements.
So I prefer if people don't tell me that they love me unless they really mean it. As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words. I am not a fan of fluff, I don't want my ego fanned and it won't earn the person brownie points in my book. It just really confuses me because I have no idea what they mean.
As my high school English teacher Mr Meyers used to say, "Show, don't tell." First show me that you love me, then I will understand that the words you say are real and true and meaningful.
After writing this piece, I had the following occur to me:
We see the world, not as it is, but rather as we are! And in our delusion we sometimes forget that our perspective is just one of many possible points of view. We are addicted to being right at all costs. Today I had a #breakthrough that will change my life forever. You see, I had my heart broken in the past. Things happened to me in life that made me feel betrayed, disappointed and unable to trust. So much so that when someone said the words I Love You to me, it made me uncomfortable, defensive, on guard, and skeptical. I thought for sure they were fake, lying, going to hurt me, or just abusing their power of speech. Today I realized that it's not them, it's me. I got that I had certain stories in my head about what love looks like. I suddenly realized that love doesn't demand or expect or anticipate. I realized that I didn't need someone to prove or show me that they loved me. All I need to do is accept that love and let it be, whatever it means to them. I wrote a blog article previously which I will soon take down because I got it all wrong. It was my hurt talking. I am so thankful to #Landmark for helping me to embrace #love, in whatever shape or form it comes in without having any demands, expectations, or qualifications or definitions. I choose to allow love into my life. I choose to BE the kind of LOVE I wish to experience. Thank you Universe for the #priceless gift I have received tonight. I'm ready.