Originally my Word of the Year (WotY) was ROMANTIC because I knew I wanted more positive ideals of love, beauty and truth. I’m a romantic at heart, following by natural inclination beliefs and thoughts and philosophies made famous by the Romantic Poets. It’s why I idealised Pocahontas as a child and why I love films like The Breakfast Club. If it speaks into the beauty and/or truth of a situation, I will probably like it.
That may also explain why I love country music quite so much.

“cos it’s three chords and the truth… just gets whatever’s in there out”

Jessie Buckley in Wild Rose

However, the more I looked into what the Romantic Poets and Romanticism stood for, the more I have realised that it is at odds with my faith. While I agree that “the free expression of the artist” is important, it is not of primary importance. The lives of people like Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are examples of what can happen when this mindset goes too far.

So what word to pick instead that summed up and would remind me to look for beauty, truth, love and remaining positive? At the same time, something that would point me back to God rather than away from Him?

Agape is one of the multiple Greek words that were used for different types of love. In particular, AGAPE meant selfless love. Wikipedia describes it as “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and man for God.” When Christians talk about agape-love, they mean the unconditional love that we see on the cross in Jesus’ sacrifice.

This is the love I was looking for. Jesus’ unconditional love is the centre of the Gospel. Just look at John 3v16 if you don’t believe me (agape is the word we translate as love). For me, agape-loves what makes the truth of the Gospel so beautiful. That God should choose to sacrifice Himself because of unconditional love totally blows my mind.

For those of you reading this who actually know me, you know that I haven’t had the best of luck with love. That is, I mean, eros-love. The romantic, sexual, relationship-focused love that we all crave. To be honest, when it comes to eros-love, I can’t see much changing any time soon. (Mini-violins at the ready 😂) There is a reason I sympathise with both Miranda and Regina Mills. Yet the more I think about this concept of agape-love, the more I realise that eros-love pales in significance.

Agape-love doesn’t need to be accepted. It doesn’t need you to accept yourself. It simply loves without question. That doesn’t mean that God agrees with everything we do BUT He still loves us amidst it all. As I begin 2020, I’m realising that it is this type of love that I really want in my life. A love that will push me to make the only obvious response that there is…

… To pay it forward with selfless love.

Agape: Word of the Year 2020