Never underestimate the power of a 10-year-old to make a difference in your life.
I spent several summers in college working as a camp counselor, and the last two weeks of camp were always Camp Agape. Camp Agape is a free camp for campers with incarcerated parents.
Agape is a Greek word, translating into unconditional love.
The entire staff was already worn-out from working non-stop 6 days a week all summer, but we had to refresh and get ready for the two hardest weeks of the summer. Thankfully, they were also the most rewarding weeks.
One of the last nights was a sleep-out under the stars. We let the girls stay up late and giggle, while I kept an eye out for shooting stars. Out of the blue, one girl turned to me and asked if she could tell me a story.
She told me and the other girls about when her daddy was taken away by the cops in the middle of the night, in front of her whole family. She screamed and cried in her mom’s arms.
Another girl asked her, “Do you hate your dad? I hate mine. He shouldn’t have gone to jail and left me.”
This freckled, beautiful, 10-year-old girl responded, “He was wrong, but I love him. He needs my love. I tell him every time I visit.”
We all shared a group hug and fell asleep. I cried tears of love and sadness for this girl and all the children that week because this girl 14-years younger than I taught me the true meaning of love that night.
I grew up in a family with two sisters I mostly got along with and happily married parents. When I didn’t get my way as a teenager, I was guilty of shutting the door and screaming, “I hate you!”
She had already accepted her dad’s wrongdoing but loved him anyway.
That, my friends, is unconditional love.
At the beginning of the work, we brainstormed ways to share unconditional love with the campers. I had no idea that it was the campers that would embody the term Agape and teach me how to love.
It’s so easy to jump to a place of hate, anger, and stress when things don’t go your way, or when a loved one doesn’t love you the way you wish to be loved. It takes daily practice to embody the meaning of Agape and love regardless of the outcome.
If your boyfriend breaks up with you, say goodbye in love. If your best friend picks a fight with you, stop and send love her way instead of anger.
Take on the daily practice of embodying Agape wherever you go. Talk to a homeless man. Volunteer at a women’s shelter. Make amends with a broken relationship. Yes, you can meditate, do yoga, and work on loving yourself, but imagine what you can do if you share that love with others who need it.
Embody Agape, starting today.
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Assist Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Sara Crolick