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Like Toddlers Who've Learned to Say "I Love You"

How do [young children] even learn how to speak? We don't hand them a dictionary and ask them to read it and get back to us. We don't make lists of vocabulary words and drill them. We didn't sign them up for language classes. They simply listen and try. They simply experiment and mimic. But mostly, I think, they see, experience, and feel. They don't learn this marvelous world of words so much as they live into it.

But perhaps no word is more wonderful, more meaningful than "love." Few things are as affecting in this world than when my daughter tells me she loves me. And yet she can't possibly understand what she's saying, can she? Does she understand what love is? If I asked her what love is, she would only laugh at me and return to her toys. How did she learn what it is to be loved?

Perhaps here we discover something indispensable and inescapable about love. Many of us would likely struggle to define love succinctly. Many of us would not even know where to start. Love is one of those words that you can't possibly understand just by looking it up in the dictionary. No definition can encapsulate it. You don't know you love someone in the same way that you know that two plus two is four. You sense it. You feel it. It shapes not only your thoughts but your very identity as a child, a spouse, a friend, or a child of God....

In the end, we may find that in the light of God's love, we are mere toddlers. We're not sure of the words we speak. We're not sure we know what we mean when we say love. But we sense it, we experience it, we know it but not in the way we know that two plus two is four. God has planted love in our hearts and called us to share that love with all we meet. So, go and love, even if you don't know what you're doing.

- Eric D. Barretto, "Lent and Love: A Reflection on John 3:16," The Huffington Post, 4/3/2012