Category Archives: Agape

LOVE

It’s time for love. Now, more than ever, we need it. There’s always been a lot of crazy in the world, so it’s not that there’s so much more or even less, though I understand there is less suffering than in centuries past. More people are living longer, healthier lives, and then at the same time we humans are doing what we’ve always done to make life interesting – we create drama, some of which I find not all that much different than “Game of Thrones.”  No, I haven’t watched even one episode (I’ve seen the trailers), which I know means some of you will never speak to me again. And, yes, I’ve created my fair share of GoT drama.

But truth be told, when I turn my television on, I need something to make me laugh and take my mind off the seriousness of life I am continually confronted with on the daily.  Politics, part of that daily experience, are the current Reality Shows of today. Forget “Housewives of New Jersey,” for table flipping, just tune into Fox, CNN or MSNBC.  Doesn’t matter which narrative you feel called to follow, it’s looney. Okay, I might be a bit judge-y here, but please, somebody, pour a little kindness atop this whole nutty circus story. Ultimately, we’re all crafting our own unique narrative every day.  And there are any number of people who think my particular narrative is crazy and even downright un-something or other. And they could be right, or wrong, depending on which side of a particular belief system they’re sitting on.

We all get to choose the story of our lives that we’re crafting, and for me, love must be the central character of mine.

And I mean big love, the agape kind. I tend to think, believe actually, that love is the one main sacred force of the universe. Love is God (Insert your namesake). Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon on love, a recording of which I heard not too long ago, where he breaks love down into three different categories. First, I love that Dr. King was talking about love in 1957, at such a necessary time for more love when the U.S. was just beginning to look at its deep prejudice towards black people in America. And, it seems we’re having to do the same thing again today, calling more love forward, with less than loving comments made by certain politicians about certain ethnic groups.

On November 17, 1957, Dr. King gave this sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He broke love down into three distinct categories – eros, philia, and agape. First, he said of Eros, that it’s “a sort of romantic love, though it’s a beautiful love.” He goes on to say the Greek language talks about Philia, a “sort of intimate love between personal friends.” And then the Greek word Agape, “This is the love above eros and phila. Agape is a love that seeks nothing in return.  It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of man.”

I remember being glued to my car radio when I heard Dr. King’s sermon. I felt it had hit the love nail right on the head because I had experienced these three types of love in my own life. Love of a super hot and super sweet man, love for my family, and then a higher love, if you will, of human kind and God. The one common denominator in these three types of loving is me. And if my heart is open or closed these three types of loving – eros, philia, and agape, will or will not flow.

So, if I’m not open to love I’m blocked, protected, or closed. Experiencing a lack of loving is an experience I know all too well. First and foremost, it creates a deep inner pain of longing, if we can admit to it, and if not expressed and fulfilled we find any number of substances to cover and or fill the void. A whole bag of organic blue corn tortilla chips with hummus works for me. Bottom line, we will get our needs met on one level or another.  And for some, this lack of loving will create an internal revolt resulting in anger, hatred, revenge, and actions which bring most of us to our knees and to the doors of heaven to question our faith in human kind. A lack of loving can be catastrophic.

Heart blockages are painful on many levels, and it takes strength to love and to be open to love. Sometimes we think we’re loving, but our love has conditions to it. You behave in this way and I’ll love you. You buy me this gift and I’ll love you. You get good grades and I’ll love you. You behave or even believe in this way and you will be loved and accepted. We all know these scenarios. The conditions are often spoken in the name of God. But conditional loving in not really loving at all, it’s expectation laden with judgment – quite the opposite of loving.

We’ve all experienced conditional love, but conditions don’t support true love or us in opening up our hearts.Opening our hearts is an act of great vulnerability and of great courage. It takes real balls to open your heart and love another, but the rewards are beyond measure, beauty and joy.

And it’s so easy to choose another focus for my energy and personal narrative. I can choose to judge, and have so many times, another person or situation, or most of all, myself. To be loving, to speak loving words, to be considerate or empathic, requires great courage in the face of the easier, more sarcastic response. Love is a choice. What are you choosing in each moment to participate in? What are you putting out into the world? Is it love, or is it not love? For some, it’s simply walking past someone in need. For other’s it’s condemning a particular person for their skin color, their sexual orientation, their gender, nationality, or their religion. See how tricky this gets?

Beautiful lyrics by Hal David, with music by Burt Bacharach, written in 1965.  I love the Dionne Warwick version of “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” and Sara Bareilles’ version is epic.

I don’t know about you, but every day, in every conversation, every email, every text, every Facebook post, every Tweet on Twitter, I think about how my words will affect the person reading or hearing or seeing what I put out into the world. This is my world. I claim it as mine. And I share this great world with all of you. And I’m doing my part to make this place we call home just a little bit better, and a little bit brighter.  Whatever anyone else chooses to do is their choice. What are you choosing? Are you choosing love? Are your actions, your words, your posts loving? Do they carry the energy of love with them – Agape? Don’t kid yourself by thinking you make no difference, or what you think and put out into the world has no effect. It does. Every thought we think, every word we write and say is like a rock thrown into the pond. It has a ripple effect that goes on and on touching everyone it comes in contact with.

It’s time for love. But you will have to choose it. Some will not. Some will hesitate. When you do choose it, it will require your courage, take one hundred percent responsibility, and great care. Love your children, love your parents, love your partner, love your friends, love your community, love your place of worship, love your God, and don’t forget to love yourself. Just remember not to not love others in the process when they love something or someone that looks just a bit different than you. God gave us our differences, like colors, and it’s why our world is as vivid and alive as it is, but ultimately, it’s love that brings these colors together in the richest of tapestries. Love creates vibrancy in our world, and it’s love that has the power to change all, make better, and free us to create the narrative of our lives placed in our hearts at birth. Live with love. The world needs us.

 Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are.