In honor of Valentine's Day, a day about relationships, a walk down memory lane is in order. If you were of age in the 1980’s, you have heard and probably sung What’s Love Got to Do with It. It was recorded by Tina Turner and won three Grammys in 1985. This single hit chronicled a purely physical relationship of a woman and man. It describes love as a sweet old fashioned notion and a second hand emotion. The song has a good melody to sing along with, mirrors many of our relationships and Tina had a point about one type of love.
In the English language, there is one word for love and we use it loosely. We love ice cream, we love popcorn, we love our pets and we love our families. It is the same love for things and loved ones and some times in the same descending order. In the Greek, there are distinct and particular words for love: eros, philia, storge, and agape. Not a Greek lesson today but just a very brief explanation of four of the different loves.
Eros is sexual love between a man and a woman. This is what Tina sang about. It is based on feelings, looks, and in the sense realm. Philia is brotherly love. Love between friends. The city of Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love. Storge is love for our family. Love of a parent to a child, a brother to a sister. Agape is the God kind of love. It is sacrificial, deliberate and on purpose. It is spiritual and speaks to the character of God.
This picture was taken was the day of my father’s funeral in 2008. He passed away suddenly and the emotions, feelings, and anxieties were very present, but so was the Father. Even though we had been married for twenty-six years at this time, My Man of God had rarely seen me cry. The tears that flowed from Daddy’s passing fueled his kind spirit into action. And as always, he stepped to the plate to do all that he could to make things easier for me and my family who had become his family.
Not taken by a professional photographer in a photo shoot this photograph was a random and isolated snapshot captured by a family member. The shadow due to the lighting and the position of the sun in the room could preclude it from receiving a photography award. Or maybe not. This photo could go viral and get international accolades because of the shadow and visual message. Photographically speaking, a shadow is an area made by an object blocking light. Spiritually speaking, what appears to be darkness only means that there is the light of God always shining there.
This was a kiss of concern, a kiss of compassion, a kiss that expresses that I love you and I got you. It was a kiss from the Man of God and recorded in the annals of the Jones family memories as The Kiss. The Kiss was not eros, The Kiss was not philia, nor was The Kiss storge. The Kiss was agape, the God kind of love.
We live in a society where relationships end so frequently and quickly that my daughter asked me what makes a marriage endure. I do not have a degree in counseling or claim to be an expert in marriage and relationships. But after a forty year relationship, thirty-three year marriage with one man and thirty years as the First Lady of an active and thriving ministry, I have amassed a great arsenal of powerful knowledge.
Throughout our marriage, we first had an identity with God the Father, second an identity with self and thirdly an identity with each other. Our relationship with the Father superseded any other and our bond with each other preceded the others in our lives. A growing knowledge of God’s love for us, allowed us to love ourselves and in turn love each other. Only with the God kind of love can you esteem others higher than yourself. We made a quality decision that divorce was not an option and we were in covenant agreement with God and each other until death. And only death separated us.
I do not profess that our union was without issues. It’s you, it’s me, but with God it makes three. A long lasting, committed and happy marriage requires that God be first and foremost.
Near the end of our earthly love story, My Man of God expressed to our children; I’m so glad I got your Momma. During this time, looks didn’t matter and possessions didn’t matter. What mattered? Agape love, the God kind of love that says I will make the sacrifice to make your life better as long as necessary, even until death. I love you and I got you. Now that’s what love got to do with it.
Harriet Noel Jones