As we move into this last month or two of school, most of us are up to our necks in last minute stresses – end-of-year programs, testing, IEPs, parent meetings, open houses, and looming grades/progress reports all seek to steal our joy. It’s in these last weeks that, even as summer shines brightly ahead of me, I often begin to lose focus of exactly why I do what I do. I find myself wondering if there’s any way I can make myself do this again next year. I wonder why I put myself through it all.

Many of us know the answer, don’t we? It’s just hidden from us in these dark, never ending days.

Love.

Even to utter that word sometimes feels trite, however. “Yes, yes, we know. Lennon sang about it already.” My sister would shake her head at me and call me a hippie. But there’s more to this overly used word than we often realize.

When I speak of love – the kind of love that drives us to endure difficult students, difficult parents, difficult administrations, and more – I speak of the love listed first as the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. This love – translated from the Greek word “agape” calls us to something so much more meaningful than how much we love that basket of chips & salsa or the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Khaldoun Sweis, on his blog Logically Faithful, summarizes Lewis’s take on agape love, or charity, in this way: “This is the highest and most unselfish of the loves, the 1 Corinthians 13 love. Also called Charity. It is not natural, It goes against our very natures. It loves the unlovable, undeserving, the ugly. It gives all and asks for not a thing in return. It is the one that takes the greatest chance. And is hit with the most loss.”

Now that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? As educators, we become all too familiar with how hard it is to love others in this way. Children misbehave. Parent accuse. Administrators overlook. We want respect, understanding, to be seen. That would surely make our hard, difficult work a bit easier to bear.

And yet, it’s not what we’re called to.

We’re called to do the hard, the unnatural, the ugly, the hurtful. Each and every day, we endure this. Yet deep down, we know it’s worth it.

As many of us move into our last days of the school year, I challenge you to think closely on this word, agape. To guide you, here are some resources that may prove helpful:

Scriptures

Matthew 22:36-38 | Philippians 2:1-8 | John 10:17-18 | John 13:34-35 | John 14:221-24  | John 15:13 | Romans 8:37-39 |

Galatians 5:14 | Ephesians 5:1-2 | Ephesians 5:25 | 1 John 3:16-18

Additional

1 | C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves or Khaldoun Sweis’ review at Logically Faithful

2 | A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

3 | The Story of Sadiq, an Iraqui man who chose love in the midst of crisis.

4 | A summary of agape love from 1 Corinthians 13

5 | Want to read more? I’m tackling the Fruit of the Spirit on my personal blog and Instagram beginning in May!