Updated: Jun 5
"Navigating the Twin Pillars of Agape Love: Patience and Kindness"
The concept of love, particularly Agape Love, often surfaces as a central theme in my writings. To comprehend the profound essence of this term, let's delve into its roots. Agape, stemming from Greek etymology, is used in the New Testament to represent the fatherly love of God towards humanity, and the reciprocal love of humans for God. Standing at the pinnacle of love types, Agape Love is distinguished from eros, or erotic love, and philia, or fraternal love, in scripture. The cornerstone of Agape Love, as I perceive it, is a harmonious blend of patience and kindness. This belief draws inspiration from the biblical verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4: "Love is patient and kind."
In retrospect, evaluating my journey on this path of Agape Love, I find that I've stumbled and risen multiple times, slowly inching closer to the ideal. To begin with, let's examine kindness. If I were to grade myself on this virtue, I would give a modest score of 75%. Going back in time, my younger self, until the age of 60, was often overshadowed by a volatile temper, which my daughter humorously dubbed as "The Barnett Rage." Unsurprisingly, my father bore a temper far fiercer than mine. Consequently, my interactions during those years were not always steeped in kindness. I estimate that I exhibited kindness about 75% of the time, but bouts of anger would often tarnish these efforts.
As I reflect on my recent past at age 76, I recall moments when I let my frustration get the better of me. Instances with a gardener and a pool technician come to mind, where I felt their work was subpar and responded angrily. However, such lapses have grown infrequent, indicating that I've journeyed away from my past struggles with kindness. My transformation is far from complete, but I've made significant strides in becoming more consistently kind. This improvement has earned the approval of my wife, who affirms my kindness most of the time.
Turning to the second virtue, patience, I find myself lagging. For instance, during our routine evening Rosary prayers, I often find myself irked by my wife's delayed appearances due to her preoccupations with the mirror. Does the onus of change lie with her or me? I believe it falls on me to cultivate greater patience. However, translating this realization into practice has been challenging. Consequently, my wife frequently perceives me as impatient.
Amid these self-assessments, my pursuit of embodying Agape Love remains undeterred. As a devout Christian and Contemplative, my love for God is fervent and unwavering. However, my journey towards expressing this love towards my neighbor by being patient and kind continues. I believe we all share this quest for self-improvement, continually striving to be better embodiments of Agape Love.
Our commitment to progress is paramount, for mere effort without noticeable change is futile. We must be wary of falling into the trap of using our humanity as an excuse for stagnation. Let's turn to prayer, seeking divine strength to bolster our efforts to grow in kindness and patience, recalling the biblical promise: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Though attaining the virtues of patience and kindness does not come naturally to me, I persist in my endeavors to grow in Agape Love. Each day presents a new opportunity to strive toward becoming a better Christian. While I am yet to reach where I aspire to be, I find solace in my sincere efforts and the knowledge that God recognizes them. Ultimately, it's our honest attempts to grow in Agape Love that hold the most value.
When we consider our journey towards Agape Love, it's important to reflect on our interactions and behaviors, identifying areas where we've been successful and areas where improvement is needed. For me, temper was a long-standing hurdle, but over time, I learned to manage it better, becoming kinder in the process. However, I continue to struggle with patience. To overcome these challenges, it's not enough to merely acknowledge them; we must actively work on transforming ourselves, and developing a stronger sense of patience and kindness.
Remember, the journey of personal growth is a marathon, not a sprint. It is filled with ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks, lessons learned, and wisdom gained. Even when we stumble, it is important to get back up and continue moving forward, using those experiences as stepping stones toward becoming better versions of ourselves.
The path of patience and kindness, the path of Agape Love, is not always easy, but it is undoubtedly rewarding. Each step we take on this path brings us closer to becoming the people we aspire to be and strengthens our relationship with God and others.
When we strive to live a life of Agape Love, we not only create a positive impact on our own lives but also contribute to a kinder, more compassionate world. Our efforts can inspire others around us to embark on their own journeys of personal growth, leading to a ripple effect of positive change.
In conclusion, while we all have our unique challenges in embodying patience and kindness, it is through conscious effort, self-reflection, and seeking divine strength that we can progress on our path of Agape Love. Every day presents a new opportunity for growth, and by embracing these opportunities, we can become better versions of ourselves, reflecting the virtues of patience and kindness more consistently. I am still a work in progress, but I am committed to this journey and derive great joy from my honest attempts to live a life of Agape Love. After all, that is what truly matters.