What is this thing… called AGAPE?

Yesterday, during a fairly unproductive day in the office (my job is to give advice to other lawyers. If they’re all on vaca, my work day is empty), I stumbled upon a conversation between @crispcoco and @bretta75 on Twitter. They were discussing agape love, marriage, divorce… and basically trying to determine the meaning of “failure” in the context of Godly relationships. What drew me into the conversation was the question of whether one should avoid marriage altogether if it might result in divorce. From what I gathered, Brett was saying that a relationship set by God can’t fail and Denise was saying that divorce does not necessarily bear the earmarks of failure in every relationship. I rest assured that they’ll correct me if I mischaracterized what they said.

journey down memory lane…

A few months ago, I ‘divorced’ a friend because they told me that my existence was un-Godly. Making amends with God now is commendable, but at the end of the day, I would always be the “bastard” child of a married man and his girlfriend (my birth mother). A union that could not – by any stretch of the imagination – be “of God”. Nevermind the fact that my “married” father had been separated a solid decade before he even met my birth mother, but that’s irrelevant I guess. anyway…. I brought that up because as deeply demented as this former friend’s opinions might be, I can see the logic behind the statement. If the will of my parents were in line with God’s will, would I have been born into an abusive relationship in the Lower East Side? If their relationship was the fruit of God’s desire, wouldn’t my parents have dropped mind altering substances, commited their lives to God and vowed to wrap themselves in agape, submitting themselves to God and eachother forever? These were the things running through my mind as I watched the conversation between Brett and Denise. Neither of them would take arms with the ideas my former friend espoused, but I nevertheless found parallels the two conversations.

back to people who make sense….

As the Twitter conversation fizzled out (i.e., we all went back to work), we all concluded that there is so much unknown when it comes to questions of “success” and “failure” in Christian relationships. (this conversation was driven by our shared judeo-christian faith). Neither of us could emphatically say for certain what “fail” means in 1 Corinthians 13:8, but we all agreed that whatever it meant, AGAPE isn’t affected by failure. Why? Because AGAPE is unending, perfect, divine, forever. But how do we reconcile this with the love we humans share with our mates? Denise shared that her parents still love each other very much, but simply could not and would not remain married to each other. “Is this what God intended?” <—this is one of the constant questions in my life. I don’t know. I’m still seeking.

On my way home, I read a fictional story of a man who wanted desperately to divorce his spouse but decided to take another try at the relationship. As his wife slept, he shared a poem from the depths of his soul. It started off rocky and painful but ended with his promises:

“I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.”

I nearly cried when I read that
(I always cry… I know)

The author who shared this fictional story then went on to speak generally about relationships (don’t worry, this isn’t a campy book on how to find your very own Christian patriarch) and he went on to say…

“I no longer think being in love is the polar opposite of being alone, however. I say that because I used to want to be in love again as I assumed this was the opposite of loneliness. I think being in love is ‘an’ opposite of loneliness, but not ‘ the’ opposite. There are other things I now crave when I am lonely, like community, like friendship, like family. I think our society puts too much pressure on romantic love, and that is why so many romances fail. Romance can’t possibly carry all that we want it to.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller

that was it.
that final sentence resonated with me.

Romantic love is hailed as the most passionate, we do the most to get it, we change everything to keep it, and then are devastated when it can’t carry the burdens of our demanding souls. I don’t believe I have found or will ever find the answer or key to never having to worry about divorce. But I do believe reminding ourselves that romantic love is not and cannot be agape love makes it easier to understand how relationships can end even when founded on fierce love. Can we ever share love exactly as God does? I don’t believe we can, because our existence is mired in imperfection. But I DO believe God expects us to reach for agape love, aim to follow the ordered steps of Christ, be a vessel for AGAPE to flow through us when God so chooses to bless us as Her/His tool.

Thank you for reading!