August 26

For Love’s Sake: What Does Unconditional Love Mean To You?

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Love For Its Own Sake: Is Unconditional Love Humanly Possible?

“There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it…” Mother Teresa
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” -Les Miserables

Unconditional Love: Black & White with Red touches via Keturah Weathers

This summer has been quite hectic with the usual running around with family, friends, and handling other equally important matters. I’ve also put more energy into developing my blogging efforts by revamping and renaming an old blog; basically starting it from scratch, joining a few more online bloggers communities and, last week, taking the leap to join a Writer’s Workshop.

Kathy of Mamakat’s has generously devoted part of her busy schedule, as a mom of three, to send weekly prompts to the group. We choose one from a list, write on it, then add it to a page link where everyone gathers to submit their completed piece, click on other blogs and give comments/support to at least three other bloggers. I chose a different prompt for my Positive Kismet blog from the list. Read it here.

Mama's Losin' It

This week’s assignment/selection:
“It was as if an invisible thread hooked her to her boy. The thread could go taut or slack but it could never come undone, it could never reach the end of its spool because there was no end; it bound them forever.” What does unconditional love mean to you?

When I read the prompts for this week, I gravitated toward the one above on Unconditional Love. Perhaps it was something in the quote that drew me near “it bound them forever” or simply that the topic itself is hugely popular and everyone seems to have an opinion about Love and its many permutations.

Unconditional Love: What it isn’t?

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.” – Saint-Exupery

Mother's Unconditional Love: Judgement of Solomon via Gustave Dore

In the movies, we meet characters who effusively express their undying love for one another. In books, we read about lovers, like Romeo and Juliet, who die for each another and in the Bible, we meet characters who betray the tenets of unconditional love. Yes, Jesus loved unconditionally but what about the rest of us? Our human capacity for unconditional love seems marred by unfulfilled expectations and promises gone awry. Does this work in theory but not in practice?

Are our expectations just too high? Unrealistic? I recall the famous story of the two women, the baby and King Solomon’s judgment in the book of 1 Kings 3:16-28. When the wise King Solomon offered to cut the baby in dispute in half, he found out who the baby’s real mother was because she did something. What did she do? Read on and I’ll tell you at the end. It was an act of unconditional love.

Wherever we turn, there are stories and pronouncements about love and we all want some of it. However, most of us don’t walk around with eyes glazed over, drooling like a doting puppy, making declarations about the undying love we have for each other because we understand where fact meets fiction and when the ship is out to sea. Puppy Love and the Love Boat are great for music, movies and TV but they don’t quite pan out in real life.

In relationships, we often imagine our love to be deep, rich and unconditional. However, in reality, our relationships are fraught with conditions and expectations. When we give love, we expect some reciprocity; an acknowledgment of sorts. We expect our lovers, parents, children, and friends to respond to our actions positively and carry out our requests or orders. Is that unconditional? No. Is that bad? No.

Unconditional Love: What it is?

“It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations” Kahlil Gibran

Unconditional Love: See The Love Foundation by Rita Smink

What does this tell you? Or Me? It tells me that unconditional love is a spiritual not a mundane form of love. We use the term casually, but to truly love another unconditionally is to love them without restrictions, reservations, controls, expectations, interpretation, and interference and to accept them without any form of judgment. This is not easy to do. As parents, we love our children implicitly and feel responsible for their moral training and emotional state. True. However, a shift occurs as they grow and assert themselves; we sway back and forth from unconditional to conditional love. This is a human quality and perfectly normal. Unconditional love doesn’t negate our role; it shines a light on how we express our love and what we ask for in return.

Essentially, unconditional love is about surrender and freedom. We surrender our need to control and open our hearts to let our loved ones be free to be who they are – a whole independent soul. We might express our love within a certain percentage of the above, but it is virtually impossible to love another without expectations; whether good or bad. We love unconditionally on paper and from a distance; however, up close, it is something we can’t do completely because of the dynamic of human interactions. Our love is interpretive; through our eyes it seems unconditional so we use the term loosely.

Unconditional Love: King Solomon’s Wisdom?

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment, first to let go of life, finally, to take a step without feet.” Jalal Ad-Din Rumi

Unconditional Love: Sites we love ... City Hall - Ljubljana Slovenia -via Magdelana Znidar

Some might say that an extreme form of Unconditional Love is obsession but I don’t think so. Unconditional Love is about freedom while obsession is about possession; which brings me to King Solomon’s decision. The real mother of the baby begged the King to give her baby to her dishonest opponent as she could not bear to see her baby die. Her opponent? She was ready to take half a baby. She wanted whatever she could possess. Yes, a mother’s love for her child starts out being unconditional but time and maturity changes it. The baby grows up and talks back. He becomes a brooding teen or sulking adult. We create conditions for engagement. The flip side of Unconditional Love is Unrequited Love.

What is my point then? I believe Unconditional Love is both a spiritual and philosophical construct that exists in our imaginations. It is a soul quality that we all have access to but that we, with our human foibles and emotions, can barely articulate it. It is the Nirvana of love; the unattainable, holy grail of human interactions. We experience glimpses of it during the honeymoon phase in a relationship, during times of crises, or at special moments in our lives… but like the moon, it waxes and wanes and we go back to the familiar, conditions-based love we live by. What’s your take? What does it mean to you? Is it humanly possible or a fantasy?

Celebrate Global Love Day on May 1, 2011 with The Love Foundation.

PHOTO CREDITS:
City Hall – Ljubljana Slovenia ~ via Magdelana Znidar
Love in Black & White with Red touches via Keturah Weathers
Judgement of Solomon by Gustave Dore ~ via Wikipedia
Unconditional Love Mandala by Rita Smink ~ via The Love Foundation
Search for Photos ~ courtesy of Google Images

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank


Tags

fountain City Hall Ljubljana Slovenia, global love day, gustave dore, judgement of solomon, love, love mandala, mother teresa, nirvana and obsession, unconditional love, unrequited love


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  • This is beautifully written! I agree with your final assessment, unconditional love comes and goes in the midst of everyday life. I do feel it needs to be part of the foundation or all else crumbles.
    Dogs are an undying source of unconditional love, but even so… they can’t really speak, which might change that as well.
    Thanks for the post!

  • An interesting take – certainly something to think about! It’s very difficult not to have some expectations in any relationship, I agree.

    Thank you for stopping by my site.

  • I’m so glad that I read this. I really like what you have written here, and you have excellent quotes and pictures to accompany.

    I believe that love is a choice, just as is happiness. The emotional feeling of love will come and go, but the act of loving is a conscious decision that we must make every day of our lives. To love even when you don’t feel it.

    I fear previous generations were better at making this commitment than we are now.

  • Thanks for stopping by and being my newest follower! I’ve enjoyed reading other’s writing on this subject as well. Yours was wonderful, and I’m really glad that I stopped by. Thanks for sharing!

  • Okay thought about it and I am back…
    I think that a parents love is unconditional I don’t think that the love for your child changes, we tend to confuse love and like. So you may not like you child at times and you may really dislike them at other times but I do not think that the love that you feel for you child is ever waivered.
    Well that is my thinking after digesting your post 🙂
    Thanks for you visit by the way.

  • Honestly, I can’t even think about ‘unconditional love’ without thinking about God.. He is the author of it as quintessentially captured in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.. It’s literally a chain reaction, He loves me, and so I’m able to love me..because I love me, I’m able to love you..and so on and so forth!

  • The way you write is something that I don’t think I could ever attain! Can I say I love it unconditionally?

    I agree with the person who said that the only real unconditional love is parent to child. I know I will never stop loving my son, the bond I feel because he grew inside of me will never be broken. Child to parent is a different story, and obviously, all parents do not unconditionally love their child either.

    • Thank you! Even parental love is somewhat conditioned by our expectations for our children… We always love them yet there are conditions there too. We are human! 🙂

  • Unconditional love is what “agape love” is all about. It’s giving 100% no matter what. It’s easy with our children most of the time. Agape love is needed in marriage because that’s what it takes to make a marriage work.
    Jesus said, “Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, Love (agape) your neighbor (others) as yourself.” That can be overwhelming at times, but God can help us learn to love others with agape love!

  • This is a topic that people have different views about and not an easy subject. I agree that we use the term casually without thinking through the meaning.
    Human love is full of conditions even love for our children. God’s love or agape love is unconditional. The rest isn’t even when we imagine it is. As you said, there is nothing wrong with human love based on conditions. It just is conditional!
    Love to all!

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