I don't even know how to accurately explain what's going on in my head right now after a long texting conversation with Clayton earlier, but I'm sure gonna try. Because I don't want to forget how I feel right now.
I realized something earlier, while he and I were talking. If there's one group of people whose love I don't ever question, it's my Reformation brothers (well, all but one of them, long story). I don't think I could doubt them even if I wanted to. From the day I met them, they were themselves. When I didn't trust them, they loved me just the same as they did when I could look at them and knew they were my family. In the beginning, when I had a hard time believing that they were authentic, that they were real, that there was no catch to the love and grace they poured upon me, I did what I always do - I pushed them away without meaning to.
But you know what was different? They insisted on loving me just the same. It's like they wouldn't take no for an answer. Even now, they tell me they'd rather be around me in all of my messiness than someone who pretends like everything's perfect when it's not. Because I'm vulnerable with them, they know it's okay for them to be vulnerable with me, too.
I admitted to Clayton that I still have plenty of times that I look at my friends, including my brothers, and wonder how they can still care about me and why they're still here. He wrote back "because true friends love each other with agape love." Agape. What a beautiful word. I'd heard it before when he said it, but I looked it up just to refresh myself of the meaning.
Agape. Unconditional love. The Greek word for love most closely associated with spiritual, Godly love. I never understood quite what it meant to have a friend who exemplified Jesus so well until I met these 15 guys who showed Jesus to me at some of the weakest points I've had since I became a Christian. They saw the good in me when I knew little about them other than their names. Just writing that out, and thinking about how I tried to push them away in the beginning, it reminds me so much of how God pursued me and loved me and wanted to know me when I hated him, and worse, when I knew God was there and didn't care to have a relationship.
These guys, they saw me the way that God sees me from day one. I never had to explain to them that I was doing my best even when I got it all wrong because they just knew. They knew my heart like they know grace and forgiveness. God used them to tear down walls, to heal wounds, and to reignite the desire in my heart to know God better, because God is the one who made them the men that they are, the brothers who love me so well.
I just ran into one of them, Corey, for the first time this semester. It was like no time had passed. That is a gift. These brothers, they are some of the best people I've ever known, and the family I didn't know I needed until I had it. I pray I can take the lessons they have taught me and put them to use in my other relationships. I'm no more deserving of agape love than anyone else.