"I Love You": Developing Unconditional Love
If you are familiar with Greek or Greek terminology you may have heard the terms Phileo, Storge, and Eros. All three of these terms mean love. That said, they also are three very different forms of love. But none of those three are the ones I’d like to focus on. Instead, I’d like to talk about and focus on the fourth form of love, Agape.
Agape is considered the highest form of love. It is the altruistic form of all three forms of love. Agape is the love that makes parents willing to risk their lives for their children, the love that makes you willing to support your friends even when they’re wrong or are well down the wrong path, and it is the love that we should aim towards. However, this love is incredibly hard to reach and the one we should express the most with one another.
In today’s modern society, we don’t say the words “I love you” enough to the people who matter. Moreso, when we do say it, we are generally thinking of one the other three forms of love. But let me tell you that there is nothing more pure and wonderful in this world than having people with whom that you share Agape love with. When you reach that stage, the words “I love you” come so easy and neither of you question the hidden meanings behind it, because you both know you’re at that stage.
This is all well and good and sounds wonderful, but how do you reach this love? For me, the first person I felt true Agape would most likely be one of our other contributors here on Chapter of the Day, Daniel Kephart. He and I grew up as very close friends and the thing that most makes me believe that crossed the ravine from a familial brother-like love into an unconditional brotherly love would be the first time I heard him say, “I love you, brother.” It made me start to consider our relationship as friends and think deeply about how close we truly were. I began to think about how my friendship with him was different from many others I had at that time. The more I thought, the more I became aware of the Agape between us. After all, there had been many times when I had needed someone to lean on in life and he had been right there. Likewise, I would try to be there for him whenever he needed me.
There is something about hearing a close friend earnestly saying the words “I love you” to one another without any effort. When it comes as if second nature, it makes you think about the extents you’d be willing to go to for that person. You generally come to the beautiful understanding that no matter what that person does, that you’re going to be there to try and support and help them. Conversely, you feel safe and cozy because you know no matter what stupid issue you may pull them into, that they’ll still be there right beside you. That's Agape.
So, again, how does one reach Agape? In my opinion it starts with crossing that weird gulf of saying “I love you” without thinking about it. There may be friends or family that you’re already near that level of Agape with as is, but once you say those words without thinking the relationship changes fully in my opinion. I say that because those words put most bare your feelings towards one another. There is so much that could be misunderstood when you say that to someone, so I wouldn’t advertise saying that to just anyone. That’s part of why we’re always afraid to say those words. We’re afraid to make ourselves that vulnerable. That is also what Agape is about though. It’s about knowing that even when you are at your most vulnerable worst state, that the person on the other side will be there to support you. If you’re already thinking about saying it to someone, it’s probably time to say it. If you don’t have someone like that, look around you and think about what you can do today to deepen that relationship with someone. After all, once you have deepened that relationship with another human being and reached Agape, you will experience a love that is truly magnificent.