Happy Valentine’s day, friend. Okay, yesterday was Valentine’s day – the day to celebrate love. But let me take this opportunity to tell you that God loves you deeply just as you are today. And so do I.
Love is a topic I talk a lot on in one capacity or another with many people in all areas of my life, including my adult children, and especially on a daily basis, with my coaching clients. Why? Because humans were made for love. God made us that way. We crave it from the moment we’re born. We’re made for relationships. We’re in relationships – romantic and platonic. And our lives are filled with all kinds of relationships – some that we have to navigate and manage, and others that we want to cultivate and grow. And love – in varying degrees and affections – impacts all of these types of relationships. Our desire and ability to love, or lack thereof, will determine the degree to which we are feeling satisfied, content, and full in our lives.
So, we’re made for love. Four unique forms of love are found in Scripture. They are communicated through four Greek words and are characterized by romantic love, family love, brotherly love, and God's divine love. Eros is romantic love. It applies to the relationship between a husband and wife. Storge (describes family love - the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters. Affection for one another is the most common type of love. Philia is the unique type of love with powerful, emotional bonds seen in deep friendships that centers around care, respect, and extraordinary compassion.It’s where the city of brotherly love gets its name, Philadelphia.
Speaking of, the Philadelphia Eagles just lost Super Bowl LVII to the Kansas City Chiefs. I wasn’t really rooting for one over the other because both quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes respectively, are from Texas and are Christians. Okay, if you did already know, I love football so I had to throw that one in there.
Agape love is the highest and most pure of the four types of love in the Bible. It is God's divine, immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind.
Agape love is perfect, unconditional, and sacrificial. A kind of love that we aspire to. The question is, can we attain it in our relationships? Agape love is found perfectly in Jesus. He IS love. So with the help of the Holy Spirit we can experience and show this kind of love.
CS Lewis has a beautiful, quick read called The Four Loves. In this book he examines these four varieties of human love. I highly recommend this book because the more we understand love in these four ways ultimately brings us closer to God.
There’s another kind of love that compliments these four types of love and makes relationships stronger. It’s the Hebrew word Ahavah, meaning "Love as strong as death; a "no matter what" kind of love. An “I’m not going anywhere” kind of love. “No matter what.” It’s loyalty. And it’s a choice. Gary Smalley wrote a book called Love Is a Decision. It is. Love is not a “feeling” or emotion. If it were, then we would fall in and out of love every day, all day long, based on our mood, emotion, or even our circumstance. Whether or not we think someone is worthy of our love based on their most recent actions.
Ahavah is also a commitment. I shared my own experience with the commitment of Ahavah love with my late husband of 30 years on episode number 27. And in the context of romantic love, I’m fully convinced that two Christ followers who have the Holy Spirit inside them have the capability to create the kind of marriage God intends - one where the husband is respected and honored, and the wife is loved and cherished, just as Christ loves the church. But committing to love is something I talk about with all my coaching clients. Because we’ve been conditioned to believe that love is something we feel coming from someone else. When, actually, love is a feeling that we generate on our own, within ourselves, based on the thoughts we are thinking about someone. And if you want to strengthen or even repair relationships – romantic or platonic – there are four commitments you can make.
Commit To Love is the very first one. When I hear a client say she needs to have a serious talk with her husband to ask him if he really loves her or to find out if he’s committed, it’s a sign that SHE hasn’t committed to love. The client that says, “I need to protect my heart, I can’t be vulnerable, because what if one day he or she does something to hurt me?” She’s not committed to love. Or perhaps, like I just heard, she’s upset because her love interest didn’t make an effort to show her how much he cared for her this Valentine’s Day. It’s obvious she’s not committed to love.
Okay, what do I mean by that? Being committed to love means to believe that love exists between you and the other person. You commit to loving them and believe that they love you - regardless of the way things are currently going. Regardless of what just happened. Or perhaps, what has occurred in the past. Without question. You can apply this belief to Eros romantic, and Storge love for family, for Philia love in close friendships, and Agape love that is perfect, unconditional, and sacrificial. For ALL kinds of relationships, deciding to be committed to the belief that you love them and they love you makes carrying out First Peter 4 verse 8 much easier. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
You may feel like you’ve been sinned against. Maybe someone left you out of an invitation. Maybe someone hasn’t given as much effort in a relationship as you have. Maybe someone was short or gruff with you. Or maybe someone doesn’t call or text back very often. Whether these people are your friends, your family, your spouse, you can respond to any of these “sins against you” by first coming back to your belief that love exists between you. It’s the first decision that determines your response. It’s the reason why you can love with Agape love – that love we aspire to – with unconditional and sacrificial love, forgiveness, and understanding. Without feeling like you need to withhold love and protect your heart. Listen, to love and to be loved is what makes life feel so full. When you harden your hurt because you’ve been hurt or you’re afraid of being hurt, you lose out on the fullness of life. Is it risky? Yes, of course, but it’s definitely worth it. Don’t believe me? Think about your own life. Where have you withheld love in order to protect yourself? How is that affecting your life? Is your life feeling full? I’m going to venture to guess the answer is “no.” To love is so much more fulfilling in so many ways than self-protecting.
So, where would you start if you need to make a change? Knowing that our feelings of love come from our thoughts, an easy way to feel love towards someone is to THINK loving thoughts about them. That supports the belief system that fuels all of your thoughts about that person when something happens. Yes, just think loving thoughts about someone. All the time. On purpose.
That brings us to number four of the 4 Commitments To Fix Any Relationship: Commit to taking 100% of the responsibility for the relationship. Okay, this is the one that I get most pushback from clients. But only the clients that haven’t worked with me very long. In fact, I shared this with a client last week that’s been working with me for about 2 months, and I mentioned that I anticipated pushback. She said, “Nope. No pushback here. Because after working with you my heart and mind are primed for this truth.”
So let me explain it to you. You can’t take responsibility for the other person - how they show up, what they do and say. But you CAN take full responsibility for your own behavior and your own feelings in any relationship.Take 100% of the responsibility. Because one person can change any relationship. When you change the way you react, if you’re able to cover every offense, if you love with Ahavah “no matter what” kind of love, the people in your life will change, in response, too.
Friend, your thoughts create your feelings. Be proud of how YOU show up. Show up with strength and guide the relationship in the way YOU want it to go. Decide ahead of time how you want to show up in your relationships. You get to decide how you’re going to experience your relationships. You get to decide. Choose love. Commit to love.
Okay, you might have noticed that I skipped number 2 and number 3 of 4 Commitments To Fix Any Relationship. If you’d like that one-page sheet, I’ve put a link in the show notes for you to grab that. Or go to www.triciazody.com/4commitments
Also, don’t forget to grab the downloadable guide that gives you some prompt questions to work through this topic today. The link to grab that is also in the show notes.
AND, if after working through that guide, you discover that you’re having a hard time committing to love in your relationships, it would be my privilege to be your Life Coach and help you uncover those things that are keeping you from experiencing the fullness of life.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together. There’s no obligation there!
Have a wonderful week, friends. I love you! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.