Earlier this year, God made it clear that I know nothing about unconditional love.
Here I was thinking I had received and given it then He says what? Well, unless He broke it down for me, I would have never guessed that. You see, until then, all the love I have ever given or received has been based on each party being a certain way or doing certain things. You doubt that?
Think about it. Aren’t there always things we expect from those who say they love us? Don’t we expect certain actions, behaviours, tones of voice, etc? I had to stop and really think and as I meditated on this, I realised alas, it was true. So I asked myself, what is unconditional love?
Unconditional love is to love someone, just to love them, because God has asked you to love them: no conditions, reasons, limitations, expectations, benchmarks, targets etc.
It is mind-blowing to say the least but absolutely scary on the other side of the spectrum. Sounds cool to be on the receiving end of this but how do we all get to be on the giving end? How do I become the source of unconditional love? Do I even have that capacity within me? I realised that I must learn to love for the sake of God and the purpose He has established for me to achieve. So what does it mean to love? Let me clarify that to love someone unconditionally means:
- All or nothing – I give you everything in me expecting nothing back or nothing at all. Sometimes the best way to showcase love is to walk away. The elimination of expectation is key because it is the removal of boxes to check and standards to meet
- To give everything the other needs – no holding back even if it’s a hug, a reprimand, silence… Everything you need from me you get. The most common misconception is that I need to withhold the hard stuff from people yet sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to correct and give a caution or reprimand. I got one this week and it wasn’t nice to swallow but I could now see the other side.
- To ask God for guidance on what, how, when to give expecting nothing in return… Doing, giving, responding to only what God has said nothing more or less.
- To trust that the one who loves me will never intentionally hurt me – this is often hard because when someone is hard on us we often question their love. I learnt that when someone is willing to take the risk to correct me even firmly it means they are unwilling to let me fail no matter what.
- To dare to counter and correct no matter what – my reality is that just because we love each other we won’t always agree on things. To love unconditionally allows me to understand this and let people have opinions contrary to mine and we thrash them through. After all, I am not God and He is the only one who can get us all to agree. It is also a reality that some of the most robust friendships I have are the ones where we have contrary opinions but such great respect for each other that we thrive because we are challenged every day.
- Intimacy – into me see… Naked and unashamed, totally open communication in a safe place. This has been challenging to learn but I have found that it is critical to have places where I can be truly me and not fear reprisal or discrimination. I have safe spaces where what is shared truly stays there and is not shared with others as prayer requests or juicy tidbits. Spaces where I can lay bare my soul and know that nothing will turn this friendship around. These aren’t many but the very existence of even one has made a difference in my life.
- Is divine – a spiritual connection with an eternal God-given goal to accomplish…simple and straightforward
Unpacking this has been intense but it must be done. I have spent enough time with the drill master to know that I have to choose to face everything even I’d rather choose the simple path. When I am busy it is easy to ignore the churning but when I take a break it all comes rushing back and the dealing continues.