Intense love does not measure,
it just gives.
Photo by Olegkalina
So the idea of unconditional love came creeping into the forefront of my thoughts recently.
I’d say for various reasons…but no matter the reason, it got me thinking.
Unconditional love, is it not, a noble idea, or is that ideal?
As a Christian, I would think that we of all people, should grasp the concept a bit more so
than unbelievers, in part, because that is a fundamental building block to our faith.
You know that whole “For God so loved the world…”
and that He would “give” his son over for us…that He would love us so
unconditionally, given our often wretched, sinful and selfish responses,..
well it is quite the gift for a foundation.
So I got to pondering whether or not this noblest of attributes is
actually truly attainable to mankind…or is it simply unattainable?
I opted for a bit of research…and found an article from Psychology Today
regarding the notion of unconditional love and the real possibility that
humans could actually achieve such…or not.
The ideal of unconditional love is a noble one.
We want to be loved as we are, and perhaps we’d like to see ourselves as capable of selfless love.
Unfortunately, loving unconditionally may set us up for disappointment and shame
when our ideal doesn’t match the reality of how difficult —
or perhaps impossible — it is to love unconditionally.
Children need to be loved without conditions.
As they struggle through life, we need to be unendingly patient —
taking many deep breaths, and offering guidance repeatedly.
Embodying a consistently loving, accepting presence,
we create a climate for safe attachment. As adults,
we also desire and need safe relationships.
Opening our hearts, we want to trust that a beloved partner or
loyal friend will be there when we need them.
However, if we look too fervently and exclusively to one person to fill all our needs
(for acceptance, belonging, meaning),
we may be expecting something that one person cannot provide.
Taken to an extreme, we may echo the silent plea of the narcissistic child:
Love me and supply what I need …
despite how I treat you.
Clinging to a sense of entitlement,
we may fly into blame or rage when our partner’s needs clash with our own.
For better or worse, mature love can only thrive under certain conditions.
Just as a rose needs ample sun, water, and nutrients to survive and flourish,
we cannot expect love to thrive under sterile or hostile conditions.
There needs to be (enough) mutuality.
So the word egocentric came running to my mind.
Having been the chief caregiver of two, who are 2 and under, these past three months
has afforded me my fair share of egocentric encounters.
Me, mine and definitely not yours—even if it is yours.
Innate qualities that must be, like a wild pony, tamed.
We adults all know that, as children, we must learn to share.
And yet we, as children, want to be showered and caressed by our caregivers
regardless of our own actions.
And at 2 years of age or younger, who in the heck is rationalizing their actions??
Rather it appears that it is the reactions of those around us, reactions to our own actions,
that begin to shape us.
Be it stern words.
Loss of something we want, etc…
All early teaching tools to the taming of self.
Because as adults, we know that in order to “get along” with others, we’ve got to learn to
let go of self and share.
As an educator, I certainly had my fair share of educational psychology courses and child development
courses…and as a parent and now grandparent, I have had my fair share of hands-on training.
Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not so much…
We have been told, by those who are in the know, that there are 7 definable types of love.
Now whether or not these are all innate or learned is debatable.
1.Eros–Love of the body
2.Philia– Affectionate love
3.Storge–Love of the Child
6.Pragma– Long-lasting Love
7.Philautia– Love of the Self
In his book from 1960, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis examines this notion of “types” of love.
but rather focuses on just 4 types of love—Storge, Philia, Eros, and finally Agape.
Growing up, as a teenager attending various Bible studies, it was Agape that spoke to me
as to that which is the epitome of unconditional love.
And it seems that some of these “loves” are much nobler than others.
And is that not what we humans should strive for…the nobler of loves?
Which brings us back around to unconditional love.
A higher and nobler love.
Loving without condition.
Loving the sinner and not the sin.
And yet, in the end, there does seem to be limits.
As in we may accept God’s unconditional gift, or we may choose not to.
Plus we must remember that we do not always offer unconditional love back to God–
nor do we offer it to one another.
He loves unconditional, but we do not.
So I suppose I will continue to muse about this type of love…the
matter of unconditionality and Agape.
pandemics tend to do that…prompting us to ruminate over deep and often hidden thoughts.
Something I want and something I would hope I could one day in turn offer to others.
Yet I fear this is to be a lifelong endeavor…
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?