I was asked to write a speech on love for the wedding of a very dear friend of mine - here's my attempt at explaining this rather inexplicable word.
Love is something that always seems hard to define. It starts with giggles, with laughter, and "do you think he likes me?" It starts with feelings of respect, of admiration, of care. And then it grows.
Love is friendship. It is, as Aristotle famously put it, one soul in two bodies. You are an unbeatable team. You build each other up, you spur each other on, you give advice, you listen. You're the hand that helps the other up when they're down, and the smile that lights up when the other achieves a goal.
Love is, perhaps, a pursuit that never ends. To let someone know that they are so important to you that you're going to make them breakfast in bed, you're going to buy them flowers spontaneously, and you're going to take a sick day off work because to you, they are the most beautiful movie star, rock star, or model. They are the most precious person in the world.
Love is also, very often, a decision. It is choosing to love someone when they hurt you, when you're yelling at each other, or when you just don't feel the same romance that was there when you first started dating. It is the decision to stick with them through the hurt and the pain because you want them, you want this, everyday and forever. But it is, also, more than that.
I think most importantly, love is selflessness. It is putting someone else, their hopes, their needs, their desires, above your own. You want to support them when they're sad, you want to help them achieve their goals, and you want to make them smile and laugh for no other reason than that it makes them happy. And I think this quality of love is the most beautiful. I think it is, perhaps, the closest a person can get to experiencing the unconditional, sacrificial love of God.
To close, I'd like to share a poem from Shakespeare which has, for me, been the love poem that I come back to time and again.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover
Oh no! It is an ever-fixed mark
Which looks on tempests and is not shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark
Whose worth's unknown
Though his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool
Though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come
Love alters not within his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.