Jimmy (my fiance) and I are taking a premarital mentoring course. One of the chapters in our study guide deals with the different types of love. They are classified into eros (erotic), philia (friendship), and agape (unconditional love given with total committment). As I'm sitting here considering the differences between each one, I feel like the first two are have lost meaning and the last one is extremely hard to come by in our committment-phobic society.
All around me I can see how the physical expression of love has lost its purpose. Its given too freely, so much that for many people it's not even an expression of true love anymore and has been reduced to an empty physical act without any sort of meaning or feeling behind it.
Friendship is easy to come by too, but again can be almost rendered worthless when there is no committment behind it. How many friends have I had in my life that have come and gone? I have been left with some great memories. Many of these people - childhood friends, college roommates, ex-boyfriends, classmates, people I've worked with - they have all enriched my life in some way, but when things got a little tough (someone moved away, got a new job), maintaining the friendship was ultimately not worth the effort and now all those relationships are just memories. I know my experience is not unique, and in the transient society we live in our lives often only intersect for a brief period of time. Some people are only meant to be in our lives for a season, but still...I can't help but feel like this lack of committment is a spreading disease among our generation. Not that I haven't been guilty of being lazy about keeping up friendships, because I have. There are many relationships I wish I had worked just a little harder at or made the effort to keep in touch.
But when I read the description of agape love, I was struck by how powerful it really is. I was fortunate to grow up with parents who demonstrated unconditional love for each other and for my brothers and I. They still do. I have never doubted that no matter what happens in my life, my parents will love and support me and always, always stick by me. I may disappoint them; I may break their hearts. But they will continue to love me. There are very few people I can say that about, and I know that many people out there don't have ANYONE they can say that about. I think that if more people made that kind of pledge in their marriages, to their families, to their friends...our society would be much better off, and there would be a lot more of the kind of love that really lasts. I want to make the personal committment to being the kind of person who sticks around not just when it's easy to love, but even when it's incredibly hard. Because thats when people really need each other, and that's when love REALLY MATTERS.