A genuine, conscious, consistent, active desire.
I have decided that love is a genuine desire, not only for someone else's happiness, but the desire to actively help that someone achieve that happiness long term. And it's not just the desire, it's acting on that desire.
Love is a verb, right?
|image via Pinterest|
I love my husband. I love my children. I love my friends.
I love my students.
But sometimes I don't pause and let myself feel that desire enough, though. Sometimes I could spend more time acting on that desire.
Because love is not a wish.
Sometimes, after they leave my class, after they graduate, I just wish my students well. I hope they will find something that keeps them moving, that makes them really get how much they are worth.
|image via the Counseling Center at Clark, NJ|
That's enough for some of them.
But everyone--EVERYONE--needs and deserves someone who loves them--consciously, actively loves them. I am convinced that those who may not seem like they deserve it have experiences or hard wiring that make the "deserving" harder--but not impossible. If every. single. child. had just a handful of adults who were willing and able to consciously, actively love them--consistently--then soon we will have a generation of young people with the tools to take on just about any personal problem.
|image via Wisconsin Media Lab|
Perhaps if I'm going to define love, though, I also need to define happiness. Love is acting on the desire for long-term happiness. An ice cream cone is not love. I mean, feel free to take me to Cold Stone any day of the week, but love is more than getting someone to smile, or forget the pain with something sweet and temporary.
And love is not a quick fix that leads to more harm.
I'm not saying we should spoil our spouses or offspring or students. We don't give them what they want because they want it. We give them what we know they need in order to maintain their mental, emotional, and physical health, so they can be happy. (Sidenote: this may also require actually researching what they actually do need).
And as we love them, we make sure they know what love is, what it looks like, so they can recognize it and repeat it, and in that way never run out of it.
Love is why I'm glad I'm at an early college.
I mean, I will preach to anyone who will listen that colleges as we know them will and should die out within the next 20 years. Not a great stance for my long-term job security, but there it is.
Colleges cannot be ivory towers to isolate the elite. They must serve, and they must serve everyone and help them equip themselves to accomplish the Purpose that they pull from deep inside themselves. Being right there where the courses they need for the beginning of just about any kind of career makes making a plan for students' long-term happiness so much more do-able. There's no reason to just wish at them here. And even if they don't find their long-term careers yet, we can make damned sure they know where to start to find who and what they need down the line.
It's been a hard week for a few reasons. But I have decided something else too.
From this point forward, my students will not leave me with a wish.
They will leave with a plan that will help them find long-term happiness.
They will leave with LOVE.