Yesterday the United States celebrated Valentine’s Day and Ecuador celebrated día de amor y amistad (day of love and friendship), and it got me thinking about all the different forms of love there are in this world. There’s romantic love, familial love, platonic love…and then there’s all the things we call love but really aren’t, like lust.
All the true types of love are beautiful and necessary for fullness of life, but none of them can compare to the perfect love that God has for us. This kind of love, called agape love, is (by one definition) the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love God demonstrates for humanity. This is love given in a way that we as humans are not capable of and yet every one of us as humans crave. So we look to friends, family, significant others to fill this void within us, but they will never be able to do that. Only God has the capacity to love us with agape love. And what joy! He delights to love us with his agape love.
Agape love is life-changing. While we cannot fully show agape love because only God is capable of that level of selflessness and sacrificiality, this is the kind of love we try to show the women and children in End Slavery Ministries Ecuador. The kind of love that most of our participants never imagined was real, even if it's what they've craved their whole lives. God knows I'm not perfect at it, but I hope and I pray that the love we show to our participants is enough for them to believe that God's love, which is so much greater, actually exists and can exist for them. If we love them, then maybe God can love them, too (I fully realize this is backwards, we love because God first loved us, but to our participants who have been shown so little love in their lives, understanding often comes in this order). And if God loves them and we love them, maybe they can love themselves. Maybe they are worthy of love and respect.
It breaks my heart to see these beautiful women and children not understand how precious they are. It's such a long, difficult process for them to even begin to grasp their worth. But that process is so important and I will take every opportunity to show them that they are loved and are worthy of love. I'm grateful that Valentine's Day in Ecuador doesn't just celebrate romantic love, because it gives me one more opportunity to remind our participants that there are so many who love them, both perfectly and imperfectly.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.