THE STORYBOARD CALLED LIFE

Love Stories – Chapter 10: Agape the 1st

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Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the eleventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, 5 is here. 6 here, 7 here, 8 here, and 9 here. ICYMI Chapter 9 was a special release last Thursday!

We will be announcing the This is Love Competition winner next week! Stay tuned 😉


Agape

Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē pronounced ə-GAH-pay) is a Greco-Christian term referring to the purest form of love. The lover is willing to endure difficulty, loves unconditionally and loves selflessly beyond challenging circumstances. Basically 1 Corinthians 13 love.  This type of love was explained by Thomas Aquinas as “willing the good of another.” It can seem pretty rare to have a love that has this kind of virtue. The love we experience is often selfish and jealous and self-gratifying and manipulative and broken. No matter how pure the love, humans are flawed so human love is usually flawed. We can only love at our capacity.  So agape is best exemplified by the love of God for man.

Agape love usually overlaps with another type of love like storge or eros. In fact, a Canadian psychologist, John Allen Lee, represented different types of love on a colour wheel and agape is signified by the colour orange, a mix of eros (red) and storge (yellow). It’s usually deep, almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred.

It’s sad that parents or lovers don’t love their beloved in this agapic way, but it just goes back to our flawed human nature. It’s usually deep, almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred.

Agape is usually so deep, that it’s almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred. The lover loves the beloved even when they are the unlovable and unlovely.  Agape lovers view their partners as blessings and wish to take care of them. The agape lover gets more pleasure from giving rather than from receiving in a relationship.

My hope is for us not just to experience this type of love but to give it.

Happy #LoveStoryWednesday

 


Falling and Staying

I don’t think I really noticed him until about halfway through grade nine.

We’d done a couple of service projects together, and chatted occasionally (mostly when I needed help with something), but there was a total disconnect between these minor interactions and anything that my poetic teenage heart would classify as a ‘love story.’

Besides, no-one really throws around the phrase “falling in love with God.”

Somewhere along the track, though, I did.

At age fourteen, I had learned the rules of my religion, knew the answers in Religious Education class, and was intermittently aware of some omniscient force whom I could beg for a good result in a Chemistry quiz. But over the next few years, my heart began to change.

I would see religious sisters with beaming faces, and feel a desperate desire to have the same joy that they had.  I would climb a mountain and look out over a magnificent view, and suddenly realise that God hadn’t just created it, but that He was standing next to me appreciating it. I would pick up my Bible and journal, and head down to the beach, and in the stillness of my heart hear a voice of love and truth utterly distinct from my own.

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Retrospectively, I realise what a danger zone I’d begun to put myself in.

I was spending a lot of exclusive time with Him, sometimes even sneaking out of Calculus class so we could sit in the chapel together. He was the first person I wanted to share my day with.

I’d even started making life decisions based on His priorities. When high school finished, I found myself on a plane to Australia to serve as a missionary because I’d become pretty convinced that I needed to share His love with other people.

Fr Pedro Arrupe said that nothing is more practical than falling in love. After all, whatever you love decides how you spend your time, how you live your life. Really, it decides everything.

Falling in love with God was for me, at a practical level, what decided everything.

He makes me the best version of myself. He’s my constant in a world that’s constantly changing. He understands me more deeply than I understand myself – and He loves me all the more in my weaknesses.

I remember thinking, not too long ago, about the key difference between falling in love with a person and falling in love with God. I think a lot of it lies in the words we use to describe the one we love to other people. In so many relationships, we refer to the other person as “my” something – my husband, my friend, my child.  Unfortunately, this often makes those loves susceptible to possessiveness and even jealous defensiveness. But God isn’t “my” anything. He’s “our” everything.

I’m head over heels in love. But the more deeply I fall in love with God, the more I want to invite other people to know Him in the same way I’ve come to know Him.

By the way, you should meet the guy I love, if you haven’t already.

He’s worth noticing.

 


Slow dancing in a Burning Room

I first met Leila at a CFC Youth for Christ camp. I noticed her crying after a prayer session and also her hip hop dancing during the talent night. We knew each other in the group for about a year and I learned she was dating my best friend. Our friendship grew when we were asked to lead a youth camp together. From then I noticed her compassion for others, which is what I admire most about her today. Over time I got attracted to her leadership qualities, her nurturing nature, and the physical attraction was a bonus.

I will save the story about her breaking up with my best friend and then dating me for another day, but in short, he was still my Best Man at our wedding. At the start of our relationship, I made a big step to let her know that I loved and cared for her. She was my second girlfriend, but the first that started in the right direction. When we decided to enter a relationship, I wanted everyone close to us to pray for us. This began with our parents, family, then mentors and friends in our Christian ministry. Like any dating relationship, we had our ups and downs. Our courtship was the time we got to know each other and find out if we were suited for married life.

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A couple of years into our relationship, marriage came up, and I knew I wasn’t ready. This challenged our relationship and after catching up with my confessor and friend, a priest, he made me realise that it really wasn’t a matter of “if” we were going to get married but “when”. This gave our relationship a boost and we started making goals and even deadlines like we had to be engaged by a certain time. The deadlines weren’t like an ultimatum or designed pressure us, but it was a mutual understanding, an intentional commitment to respect each other’s time and hearts.

I surprised her on our 4 year dating anniversary by proposing. One year after, my confessor married us with the words, “I am more married than I was yesterday”. This has been a key point for our entire marriage, even after 6 children, the ups and downs of life, and changes that affect us deeply. I am always growing in love for my spouse and it is true that there is more love in our marriage than there was yesterday. Every moment is a learning experience and I know that God is always “living” through our marriage.

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I first learnt of Leila’s issues just before we started dating. She opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?” Thankfully, with God in my life, my response was neither of those initial thoughts, but words of love that came straight out of His mouth, “You are still beautiful, my child”. I realised that her trauma has made her more compassionate for others, being able to feel deeply for them, and this is what attracted me to her in initially.

While we were dating, our relationship and all areas of our life seemed to be going well, yet Leila shared to me there was something wrong, she was unhappy and there was no reason for her to be. This was when I first learned of her depression/anxiety. I felt helpless as there wasn’t anything I could do to help her, just support her with whatever she needed. She began medication and while we were dating, through to our engagement, marriage, and to kids. She has weaned off medication and started again a few times.

The challenges in loving someone with depression/anxiety is sometimes I feel like I’m walking on thin ice, where something I say or do could make her feel worse. I sometimes feel like I’m the one who raped her, especially when she is having an emotional flashback. There are times when I need to step in and teach our kids about anxiety/depression.

On top of this, I need to keep my own emotional responses in check. My natural tendency is to keep quiet when there is conflict, in some cases this is not that helpful for Leila so I need to make the decision to reach out. When I’m teaching kids about the triggers of depression or correcting them of their behaviour, I can sometimes be too stern and come off as an angry dad. Having the right response at the right time can be very challenging.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) I give this quote, not because these challenges that I face with Leila’s depression/anxiety is my cross, it’s a challenge I’m willing to face in my love for her. The cross that Jesus asks us to carry is a call to love. This call to love is total self-giving, and Jesus gave us this example through his life and his greatest love act, to die for us. I constantly teach my kids about love and selflessness, without it, it’s the main reason they fight when they are selfish.

Caring for someone that is ill is not easy, while I have God in my life and pray to him constantly, doing this alone will not solve our family’s situation. I have recently decided to seek some support, in seeing a psychologist. In addition, we have noticed that our eldest son has some signs of anxiety/depression and he too has started to see someone. Mental illness can be misunderstood and “seeing a psychologist” or “taking medication” can be seen as a sign of weakness. I believe that God has put these solutions before us, and it takes courage to realise that “I need help” and also have trust and faith on how God chooses to help us.

I always go back to the cross that God asks us to carry, the call to love. Looking at my younger years I was most peaceful when I was loving God and neighbour first, how Jesus surmised the 10 commandments. This is the same truth today with my family, putting God first and putting their needs above my own. The song “Man in the Mirror” speaks of how to make a difference in the world by making a change in ourselves. What it doesn’t speak about is why we need to make a change. The reason is God’s call to love, let’s embrace it and follow him.

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In an effort to maintain our romantic love, particularly with a hectic family life, we have weekly date nights (usually going out to movies – we’re so thankful to family who take care of the kids). Just recently, we have made conscious efforts to love each other with our love language. For Leila, physical affection (i.e hugging) and words of affirmation (i.e saying something nice to a family member) is really important. Usually we want to give love the way we like to receive love. So we often need to step out of our comfort zone to give love the way our loved ones need. 

We used to also slow dance every night, might start doing this again. We try to pray as a couple every night and check in with each other every day on how we’re doing.
“Keeping love alive” I think is very similar to “feeling in love”. There have been times when you don’t feel it anymore or our love is not alive. Deciding to love during these times is the when it will count. Having been married for almost 11 years, I always believe that love is a decision.

 

She refused to buy tickets from me. Every other person bought tickets but her. I wasn’t her type so wasn’t that hard for her to say no. You have to outsmart smart girls

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Preview: 

NEXT WEEK WE’RE ANNOUNCING THE WINNER OF THE THIS IS LOVE COMPETITION! SO EXCITEDDDDD

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Written by Candice

June 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Love Stories

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