Has it been more than three months since my last post?! Haha! Well, I’ve been meaning to update my blog and I think it’s just fitting to finally publish this today, the first day of a new month. 🙂
One of my favorite Catholic lay preachers, Bro. Bo Sanchez, once said that if someone said “I love you” to you, you might as well reply with this question: “Are you willing to die for me?”
And I actually agree! As of this writing, I’ve been single for a year and a half already, and if there’s one thing God taught me in this current season I’m in, it’s what true love really means — it’s not a feeling, it’s not just a decision, but it’s about dying to one’s self for the good of the other. Did you get that? Authentic loving means dying — selfless, not selfish. What does this mean?
For this one, it’s best to turn to the Greeks’ definition of love (the English one is just so vague! haha). The Greeks have these different terms for love:
- Eros – more on feelings and/or romance (also the most fleeting!); this is the one that makes us say, “I fell in love”
- Philia – more on friendship (the best foundation); this is the one we can offer to everyone, even non-romantic prospects
- Agape – more on dying to one’s self for the good of the other — the ultimate form of love! This is the one modeled by Jesus on the cross; for couples, this is the kind of love you ought to show to your partner when the honeymoon phase has already faded away; for the rest of humanity, this is the kind of love we’re all called for in order to have happy, healthy, loving, and peaceful relationships
So how exactly can we apply agape (the highest form of love) in our lives? As a follower of Christ, my best guide is the Bible. Saint John Paul the Great‘s Theology of the Body is also a good place to start! (And thanks to catholic-link.org, I was enlightened more through this infographic!)
Here’s what it says and my understanding of each:
Agape means answering without arguing (Proverbs 17:1). For example, if you’re a Christian from a different denomination and I’m Catholic, let’s focus on sharing our common love for Jesus. Arguing about doctrine/dogma just isn’t Christ-like. The same goes to discriminating other religions. Let’s just not.
Agape means speaking without accusing (James 1:19). We all have the right to voice out our concerns. But we have to remember that sometimes it’s not about what we have to say, but how we say it.
Agape means promising without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12). I’m sometimes guilty of this! Haha! But yes, we gotta learn to be accountable of our own words — whether it’s as minor as doing a favor for another, or as major as staying faithful to your partner. That’s agape looove!
Agape means listening without interrupting (Proverbs 18). As a very talkative person (wordy pa!), this was a very hard lesson to learn. But gradually, I’m happy to say that I’m now able to apply this to the point that sometimes I’m already mistaken for being an introvert (sooo not me! wahahahaha)! But yes, I’m still a work in progress in this aspect, and I can only thank God for His grace.
Agape means working without complaining (Philippians 2:14). You know that feeling when you’re willing to do anything for someone you love? Well, that also applies to someone or something you don’t necessarily like or love but is required of you. For example, if there’s a major reorganization at your workplace and you don’t necessarily like it but you still do it nonetheless for the greater good of the entire organization, then that, in itself, is already showing agape love to your workplace, boss/es, and colleagues! Besides, thank God that you still have a job and you still have the capacity and means to work!
Agape means trusting without wavering (1 Corinthians 13:7). For most singles, trusting God in the waiting season is probably one of the hardest things to do! But we gotta keep on trusting lest we end up settling for not His best — and that’s just sad. So trust God fully, and use this time to love and seek Him all the more!!!
Agape means forgiving without punishing (Colossians 3:13). More than forgiving others, this is about forgiving yourself too. After all, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. And when you don’t forgive, you’re the only one who’s punishing yourself. Don’t do that. Show yourself some agape love. And just like hurt people, hurt people, people who have sufficient self-love are also the ones who are able to give love to others more!
Agape means praying without ceasing (Colossians 1:9). It’s easy to pray when things are going well. But when they don’t? I say that agape love is when the going gets tough, the tough get to praying more! This includes praying for your enemies. It’s not easy, but God will be very proud of you!
Agape means giving without sparing (Proverbs 21 and 26). For example, if you’re going to donate pre-loved items to a charity, make sure that those items can really still be used. Don’t just give for the sake of giving. Give with a purpose and it’ll be more meaningful. Also, agape love means loving freely without expecting anything in return. Easier said than done, but through God’s grace, anything’s possible!
Agape means giving without regret (2 Corinthians 9:7). When my ex and I broke up, there was a point that I considered him as the biggest mistake of my life! Haha! But no, that was just the high emotions talking. When I realized that I’ve already moved on, I have nothing but thanksgiving to my ex and our past four-year relationship because that experience brought out the best version of myself — and I wouldn’t have it any other way! BUT we need to draw the line. When it comes to sin, though, we must learn to repent, recover, then restore. So yes, regret the sin/s, but not the love.
I’m sure there are still other examples apt for each of the aforementioned points, so you’re free to reflect on your own. Ain’t it fun? So many ways to show authentic love! 😀
Basta ako, sabi nga sa isang commercial, wala man akong “love life” ngayon, hindi naman nawala ang love sa buhay ko — not just love from my family, my friends, and myself, but most importantly from God, who is Love Himself.
So now, before I utter those “three words, eight letters” to anyone, I reflect first if I really mean it. Am I really willing to die to myself for the good of that person for me to say that I love him or her? ‘Cause if not, then I might as well just keep my mouth shut. This way, when I finally utter the words “I love you,” God, me, and that person will know that I really, really do.
I guess it’s also timing that I’m going to Greece very, very soon. I bet there’s a thing or two I could learn more from the Greeks.
Less eros, more agape, and then some. 😉
Happy agape loving,
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.”
-1 Corinthians 13:2
When was the last time you exemplified agape love to others?
Share your thoughts!