L is for Love

 
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Of course--L is for love! Unfortunately, the English language is woefully lacking when it comes to terms for love. Think about it: how many times have you had to explain what kind of love you're talking about? "Well, I don't love him like that." "I love her like a sister." Then there's all of the very-different things and people that we talk about loving. "I love chocolate." "I love music." "I love grace." And that most powerful one of all: "I love you."

Clearly, the kind of love in each of these scenarios is unique. But we don't have many appropriate substitutes for the word "love" to denote each kind. We could learn something about this from the ancient Greeks. They had different words for the different types of love. Incidentally, growing up, I heard about these different Greek words for love in many a church sermon. But not wanting to rely on memory, I did a little research...and encountered somewhat-varying definitions of a couple of them. But the one generally considered to be the highest form is agápe, the unconditional commitment to the loved one, putting the loved one's interests above one's own.

The definitions of agápe I saw in my research did include some measure of affection, but I've always thought of it as a commitment to treat the other person as they deserve to be treated...even when you don't feel like it. As I've said before, loving from the inside out is not always easy. We're not always gonna feel like it. Being caught up in our own lives, being locked into our own viewpoint, judging people...those things are all too easy. The question becomes whether we're gonna act out of that or out of the better angels of our nature. We won't always get it right, but we can always aspire to ever-greater levels of depth and kindness. The world certainly could stand to be a truly kinder and gentler place.

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