I’ve only recently stopped spending my life trying not to need anyone.
I grew up with a clear, healthy example στοργή, or storge love—the type of familial love shown in natural, instinctual ways. It’s the love a parent shows their child and that the child, in turn, gives back. I didn’t reject this love from my family outright, but at times thought I’d outgrow it. I never thought I’d need to extend it beyond the four walls of my childhood home, and especially not to anyone I wasn’t blood-related to.
That is until I was introduced to this type of love in the context of the Christian life. How could it be that I was supposed to feel, accept, need, desire, or embrace this love, devotion, and dependence from the family of God when I barely want to be tied to anyone that deeply? What is it that makes me want to reject this gift of needing others and their mutual need for me?
I have a hard time even letting people help me move, so letting storge love form between myself and the Church has been a journey. I’ve pulled over and withheld myself from it a few times.
But this “empathy bond” that connects me with the Bride of Christ is stronger than a physical tie could ever be. We’re bound by the spirit of God, who calls His family to love like this.
In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes this storge love as “the humblest and most widely diffused of loves.” Most of us have experienced this love in our own families. We’ve distributed this love to those near and far, to those we share a bloodline with, to those we marry and form a new family with, and to those who know Jesus Christ as Lord.
But being so familiar with this familial type of love doesn’t make it any easier. Sometimes we love each other only because we’re family and that’s all we can do that day. We give or accept this love because our close ties and devotion compel us to. We show loving affection toward each other because, as children of a heavenly Father, we know this is God’s will for His family.
We remember the instructions in Romans 12:10, where a compound form of “storge” is found: “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” We devote ourselves to this love because we’re family.
On days when it’s hard to love and easy to forget our need for the Church, we assume our role and give our love because we’re family.
When the shortcomings of family members are glaring, we remember God’s command to love one another and do it because we’re family.When we’re hurt by a Body so closely tied to our own, we’re reminded of our flawed humanity and still express that love—through loving rebuke, accountability, grace—because we’re family. Click To Tweet
We keep ourselves bound by love because we’re family. That love reaches down into the trenches when we think we’re alone and pulls us back. That love shows us the imperfections of others and also turns the mirror in our direction. That love humbles us when we think we don’t need it.
And, much like the love between a parent and a child or the tight bloodline that all relatives share, we find we never, ever outgrow it.