I’ve thought a lot recently about the last decade.
How quickly it evaporated. If you mark your life by major transitions a big one was in 2001 when I quit full-time work at InterVarsity. In the years since I have grown up — as in separated from my parents emotionally and allowed myself to grow up, mature, and even move ahead of where they were at my age. It was harder than you think. I have also fallen in love with Jesus, as never before and accepted the Grace offered to me freely. I pray for better understanding! I have begun to ponder life’s greatest purposes for people and more specifically me. And, I have found an emotional equilibrium of sorts — became a drunk & got sober. All this in a decade. Phew!
I can’t help but wonder — What will the next decade hold?
Sunday, we heard teaching on agape which is a different kind of love than the other three: eros, storge and philios. Agape is completely motivated in one direction.
I struggle with love. Not loving others, that comes easily for me. Even the kind that goes only in one direction. And I want to be the sort of person that doesn’t need to have something in return. But the example I grew up with made it difficult for me to believe others really love me. I’m afraid that my parent’s example was always doubting others’ love and rarely trusting anyone.
I didn’t learn that people can be counted on. My family legacy is one of anger and record keeping. I am breaking that cycle but I still don’t really believe that I am lovable. My Doc says if I would just “find confidence within myself” I wouldn’t need him any more. “The root of all my problems” is my lack of confidence. (Of course he also tells me not to take the things he says out of context, which I have completely done here.)
But I do think — have thought for some time — that if people (if I) could learn to love others in this way — agape — we (I) would be ultimately content. And happy.
Where I get into trouble is my need. What do you DO WITH THE NEED?
I do honestly help others simply out of a wish to be helpful. These pears I dutifully checked for ripeness daily for three weeks for my neighbors, not out of a desire for anything but just to be helpful as they traveled. Stuff like that comes easily. But often, I know I am longing for people to love me. I am not motivated by it but it is there and can’t be ignored. Or maybe I’m just a nice person. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter that our motives are pure? If you believe 1 Corinthians then I think it does.
On the other hand, if I expect nothing in return because I don’t feel lovable that is not agape either. That’s something I don’t have a name for but my prayer is to stop that!
I want to become a person who is fully living out agape. Mother Theresa was someone whose life exemplified agape. Henri Nouwen. Many others. How do we become more like them in their loving others? I guess I’m gonna have to read C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves. If this agape is something that is really important, as important as it seems to be, then I need to understand it more fully.
If this got you thinking, my church is doing a series on all of this and you can watch or listen online. Or, you’re welcome to come along with me some time. I can’t promise that they have all the answers but they do make you think. And obviously I don’t either but the journey is fun!
Intense love does not measure, it just gives. — Mother Teresa