It is necessary to define “love,” because I am sure that we all have different understandings of that word. All of us have experienced emotional and physical love for each other as we love our families, friends and pets. We also love our homes, certain foods, favorite items of clothing, colors, and the list goes on and on.
When we consider the love among ourselves as human beings, it becomes a fascinating study. In a romantic relationship, we meet each other and we “fall in love,” and that love remains intact until serious disagreements emerge and we become highly offended by these differences. Sometimes they cause us to eventually hate the other person, in spite of our promise to love each other until “death do us part.”
In families and friendships, we experience the same kinds of emotional turmoil — and even though there is not that pronouncement of loving each other forever, the same kind of upheaval occurs. As families, we are supposed to to love each other unconditionally because of our biological connection, but oftentimes even biology cannot withstand the emotional briars and bristles that result in verbal and physical conflicts between each other.
That being said, we can with certainty declare that on this human plane of awareness, few of us have experienced “unconditional love.” Love on this plane has restrictions and, therefore, is not unconditional.
So maybe we can conclude that, on this human plane, we have not learned what unconditional love looks and feels like. Let’s backtrack a bit and try to consider what love really is.
Over the years, I have had some opportunities to figure this out — at least in part what love may look and feel like. I now know that in order to love another unconditionally, I must learn how to listen, not only to the words that others are speaking, but also to listen and hear with my heart. I must give respect to the other person’ s point of view even though it may be diametrically opposed to my own — and understand and accept that we all have that right.
We all talk about the love and grace of God. The one thing that is asked of us as “spiritual beings” is to only acknowledge that One Power and Presence, yet we all keep falling off the turnip truck — like addicts who have to continue returning to rehab until they hit rock bottom.
In good times, we forget about this invisible Power and Presence until we experience hard times. When our lives turn topsy turvy and we can’t find anyone or anything to help us, we cry out, “God, I need help.” And as we believe that this invisible Presence does provide help, and ultimately the aid we are seeking shows up.
This is unconditional love, forgiveness, not holding our past against us, but accepting us just as we present ourselves in the moment. The caring never stops.
It is important to recognize that we are unique individuals and there will always be differences. Given that, our respect for each other and honoring these differences can lead us to “unconditional love.” Unconditional love does not mean that we have to be best friends and have that person in our inner circle of friends. It simply means that we have learned to accept the other person’s point of view, which may be different from our own.
We learn to respect and honor each other. We let go of criticism and judgment and we learn to walk away from the turmoil and simply decide that we don’t have to be a part of the drama that is showing up. We come to know that we cannot change others’ opinions and no amount of yelling, screaming, finger-pointing and name-calling will alter that truth.
If we all could learn to treat others in the manner in which we want to be treated, that is as close to “unconditional love” as we may possibly attain. But remember, in order to give love to others, we have to learn to love ourselves, for we can’t give away that which we don’t have.