Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Conditional Love

A husband promises to love his wife on his wedding day. A mom gazes lovingly at her baby and whispers, “I love you.”
Examples of unconditional love? Maybe, but maybe not.

The husband promises to love his wife assuming that she will be faithful to him. He can’t imagine that she would cheat on him so when she does, it’s a shock to him. The husband promised to love his wife on the condition that she would be monogamous to him. She broke that condition, and the love they share and their marriage is now over.

The mother thinks of her baby as an angel. She does everything she can for him knowing that he is a good person. Then as an adult he does the unthinkable. With a group of friends he rapes and murders a teenage girl. She can’t bring herself to go to the trial or the sentencing, because he has broke the condition of her love. He has caused unimaginable pain to others and she can’t look past his sins.

Unconditional love is something we strive for but few of us ever attain. There are situations and deal-breakers that create conditions for our love to exist and be shared with others.

We need to be aware of our struggles with conditional love.  When this kind of love is used to manipulate other people and not honor who they are, it is insidious, hurtful and damaging.

There’s the father who doesn’t let his son who has recently come out of the closet come home for Christmas unless he is willing to be “cured” of his “gayness.” There’s the mother who refuses to help pay for college unless her daughter agrees to not live with her boyfriend. And then there’s the son who refuses to speak to his father because he is in an opposing political party.

Sometimes the way to face this damaging situation is to make conditions of your own. As long as these conditions encourage acceptance over intolerance, then this response will lead to a more open kind of love.

Think about the people that you love. Is there truly nothing that they could do that could make you no longer want to love them?  Is your well of belief in your loved one deep enough to overcome any sin and any amount pain they may cause you?

It’s easy to love someone when they treat you well, speak to your respectfully and always do the dishes. How do you feel about your loved one after a stressful situation, after a fight, and a traumatic shared experience? After all the dust has settled do you love that person more or less?

If you love a person more after a challenging situations, then there are fewer conditions to your love.  If you love them less, maybe your love isn't as pure as you believed.  

We have more conditions to our love than we want to admit and when things get bad we have to face these limitations we have created. We can get scared and run away, or we can find the strength to accept, to put our pain aside and share our love unconditionally.

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