I have just finished the final chapter of my book Upward and I wanted to share the opening paragraph with you.
What is love in the context of looking up? Well, there are many forms of love and many terms to describe it – fondness, affection, warmth, devotion, lust. But in the case of upward thinking and upward living, the Greek word agapo, best describes the love that looks up. It is characterised as unconditional love, not based on emotions, but rather on will and the benevolence of the one who loves. It is also a love that requires choice and action. It is a verb, a doing word and is not passive or subjective, nor is it motivated by external appearances. It does not rely on whim or fancy but is defined by the character of the giver. It is a noble, pure love that looks up and out. Agapo is what transforms relationships, enables us to live lives of freedom and wholeness and transcends all boundaries. It stands boldly and looks perpetrators in the eyes and says, ‘I forgive you’. It reaches out to the stranger and says, ‘I know you’. It holds the lost and says, ‘I’ve found you’. It celebrates with the victor and says, ‘well done you!’. When we demonstrate this kind of love, our lives change. If each one of us chose agapo, the world would change.
But this is a challenge, a huge one in our time poor, self-driven, more, more, more society. How can we show this kind of love? Well, one thing I know for certain, we can't do it on our own. And, the other thing I know, we need each other. Love for one another is what we were made for.
So, my lovely readers, in celebration of love, I set before you a challenge. Below are a few thoughts, ideas and prompts for you to take action on, to show your love for others. Let's be do-ers, let's be action takers, change makers in our own world, and see the difference it can make.
Sarah's Other Care Challenge:
We not me. Agapo love seeks out others to love and faces outwards towards life. It is ultimately inclusive and promotes the ‘we’ of humanity, rather than the ‘me’ of self. Showing love starts with us but extends to others. Do something today that demonstrates your love for a wider circle – your family, a group of friends or a community collective.
It's good to talk. Have conversations with others, people you would not usually talk to or have deeper conversations with those you already know. Love can be tough, and you draw on this strength to be courageous in crossing the room to talk with someone who may be feeling alone, in picking up the phone to speak to a long-lost friend or in having ‘that’ conversation with your family. Also, honesty is a form of love and sharing your truth with others gives them permission to do the same.
A doing word. It is easy to say, but not so easy to do. But there is no getting away from it, if we choose to show love, we need to be people of integrity. Be the person who can be relied upon to do what you say you will do and follow through with action.
Considered care. Empathy is standing alongside someone who is struggling, without judgement and saying, ‘I see you and I hold space for you at this time’. It is thoughtful and considered, not trite or quick to find a solution to ease our own discomfort. Instead of trying to find the positives and saying ‘well, at least…’ offer your support and say ‘this must be really hard for you right now.’
Everyone has a story. There are always two sides to the coin – there is always more than meets the eye. These phrases suggest that we take a step back and show love by using empathy and care in accepting we do not know the whole story of a person. Be quick to listen and slow to judge.
Reach out. Love is best when it is shared. Reaching out in love to your family, friends and community will set an example for others to do the same. This can be in person or remotely. Consider the networks you have; these may include social media. Can you show unconditional, open-minded love in your posts, comments, and likes?
We are the champions. Seek to celebrate others. The small wins and the big ones. We all need encouragement from time to time. We all need someone to champion us and be in our corner. Can you do that for someone? Or support a cause or charity that does that for others?
Please share this with others and spread the love. Comment below or on my socials to keep the conversation going. We can live together, differently. Onwards and upwards!