As part of our Mental Health Mondays: Love Series, we will look at four different types of love (self love, romantic love, agape love, and philia love). We have already covered self love and romantic love. This week we are highlighting agape love. Continue ready to find out more.
"Agape...It's a selfless and giving kind of love, without expecting anything in return."
AGAPE. When I first learned this word, a friend of mine had invited me to church with them. It was my first time visiting this church and I did not want to introduce myself during the visitor rollcall. Oddly enough, I didn't have to. I received so much love (smiles, hugs, handshakes, kind words, etc.) from this group of people who had never met me and knew absolutely nothing about me. They just wanted me to know that they were glad to see me and they hoped my day would be great.
That's agape love. It's a selfless and giving kind of love, without expecting anything in return. It's judgement and criticism free. It comes from the heart. Given that description, there are several thousand ways to express agape love. For the sake of time and space, I will just highlight a few ways to show agape love to others.
When I was in high school, this was a requirement for one of my classes. We had to document where we volunteered, how many hours we volunteered, and have a legitimate signature and contact information from the person who supervised us. Volunteering is a self-less way to give back. You give up your time, your energy, your space, etc. all for the good of helping someone else. There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer as well. If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer, try looking at your local women and children shelters, donation centers, animal shelters, church groups, foodbanks, etc. If there is one thing that we are not short on, it's the opportunity to give back.
2. Donate or Give
Another way to demonstrate agape love is to donate or give. In addition to giving up your time to volunteer, you can also donate money to charity and/or give items to those who are in need. If your schedule does not allow you much opportunity to volunteer, look into making a monetary donation to a non-profit or charity of your choice. If you are unsure of any non-profits or charities, conduct your own research. There are plenty of legitimate non-profits and charities who would be more than appreciative of the monetary donation given to them. You can also give furniture, household items, toiletries, bedding, etc. to those who are in need. Many places, such as shelters, are always looking for these items and they are in high demand. Either way, donating money or items is a demonstration of selflessness.
3. Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness is probably one of the simplest ways to demonstrate agape love. It is really self-explanatory. Being able to show kindness to someone else does not cost anything or take away from you as a person. Years ago, I remember waiting for my food order to be completed. By the time that I reached the cashier to pay for my food, I was told that someone else had already paid for it. This was completely unexpected but appreciated. Whether you are smiling at others, giving compliments, sharing encouraging words, etc., these small but impactful acts really help to make someone's day. And you also feel good about yourself as well.
There are so many ways to demonstrate agape love to others. You don't have to know or even like the person to be able to demonstrate agape love. One important key to remember is that when you show agape love, you are doing it selflessly. You are not performing these acts to be seen or recognized or even acknowledged. You are simply doing them out of the kindness of your heart, without expecting anything in return. Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC demonstrates agape love by offering pro bono sessions to those who are in need. For more information on our pro bono services, click here.
Bree Vanley is the CEO of Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Arkansas who focuses primarily on anxiety, depression, and trauma. She is committed to helping others become mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally healthy. For more information, please click here. You can also follow Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC on Facebook and Instagram.