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Agape and Pragma and The Speed of Life

It’s spring. It’s Holy Week. It’s the week I remember my water breaking on a Good Friday, seven years ago now, when Asher was born. It’s the last week before Vinnie starts his new job, in an entirely new field.

We spent yesterday filling a carriage with coloring books and Easter grass and chocolates, plus a bike for our about-to-be five-year-old. Everything always happens, for us, in a rush. It’s never just a birthday, it’s always, a birthday (plus).

Evaline turning five, this week, feels rushed. I remember Alex turning five and thinking, how incredibly odd to have a child so old, old enough for school and being considered a big kid. And now, Evaline, who rushed into being born, has now rushed into big kid status, herself, and is leaving me babyless.

Somehow, the past ten months of having Vinnie home, and traveling together, enjoying time as a family, it all feels terribly rushed. It happened too quickly.

I know that there were days and weeks when I earnestly wondered, what on earth was going to come next for him, because there would have to be something…but now that he is down to the final few days of vocational freedom, I’m feeling like we didn’t have enough time. Not yet. Don’t go.

He is on his final week of overnights at the cold weather shelter. He texted to tell me that some of the volunteers on his shift last night had brought him a card…

2016-03-21 22.49.07

This is how we are, in the midst of the rush. In the midst of throwing together a birthday and a holiday and a whole new job schedule, in the span of a week. In the midst of sniffing around the house, playing what is that smell?  I’m simultaneously proud and encouraging – and also…insulting (but, with love?)


This morning, I read an article about agape love, in light of the season, in a moment of trying to reset my heart (again, always) toward where it should be. When the article fell flat, I went on to search for other writings on the Greek words for love, on agape.

Agape, it’s the most radical love, the most self-sacrificial. It’s the gift of love, to all people. It’s charity with an open heart, it’s giving without ever expecting in return. It’s beautiful.

And then, just below it on the list – Pragma.

Pragma, or longstanding love
Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples.

Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.

It’s the love that shows patience and tolerance when your wife accuses you of smelling like dog farts. It’s the love that shows patience and tolerance, by chewing chips as quietly as humanly possible, or perhaps choosing a less crunchy snack to eat, so that you can sit beside your wife during a movie, without driving her crazy.

And, it’s the love that holds together, in the rush.

The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.”Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it.


I was awake at 4AM this morning, alone, and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Knowing that he was somewhere, sitting awake in a roomful of homeless people, I reached out  – Hey, I can’t sleep.

And, like I knew he would, he talked me back down, from whatever anxious thoughts were keeping me from rest. Life is good, he assured me, because no matter what is going on, we will get through it, together. 

It has been almost a year of him being home, of our daily lives being lived out in this house, in togetherness, in the thousands of miles driven across stretches of the country…and we still can’t seem to stop talking (even if half of what we’re saying is repetitive at this point, or just goofy).

If our marriage is one day told in a series of texts – it would paint us as sappy, silly, and increasingly, odd people (with far too many Hamilton or Star Wars references)  – but there would also be the four AM moments. It might not paint a picture of agape – but I hope it might paint a picture of pragma.

Or, at least it’s something to continue to strive towards. Even in, especially in, the rush.

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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