Unconditional Love

By Scott Westerman
We talk a lot about Unconditional Love. It may be easy to define, but it’s hard to practice.

I’ve had a lot of time to write and research these last few days. Colleen’s cancer came back.

It’s a small tumor. The doc got it all without having to damage anything too important. Our fingers are crossed that this will be our last encounter with the enemy.

As I write this, she’s sleeping, plugged into IVs, healing. We’ve been documenting the adventure on her personal blog and last night I made a list of how we have defined our love these past 35 years.

All of this got me to thinking about unconditional love. Everybody talks about it, but what is it?

Stephen Kendrick, author of “The Love Dare“, writes, “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”

That’s powerful. We all need attention, affection, affirmation, but it will only come from those who choose to give it to us.

Love includes disappointment. People who should be caring about us will hurt us. Love doesn’t overlook pain, anger or misbehavior. It’s ok to say, “You hurt me.” “I’m mad at you.” or “What you did was not appropriate.”

Philosopher Lori Chidori Phillips admits, “Soul mates aren’t perfect people. They can come into your life and provide polar emotional experiences from intense love to intense pain. Growth comes from both. And a soul mate helps you grow. It isn’t just ‘…and they lived happily ever after’ but ‘…and they lived!'”

Unconditional love can sometimes mean letting go, helping someone you care about break out of your orbit to discover their own galaxy.

At it’s core, the word “unconditional” gives us the secret: Love without condition; without expecting anything in return. This can be a hard concept to digest, especially in a world where payment for services rendered is an expectation.

Here’s how some smart people put it:

Oscar Wilde: “To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.”

Antoine de Saint – Exupéry: “True love begins when nothing is looked for in return.”

Leo Buscaglia: “Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, can we truly know what love means.”

The magic of unconditional love is in it’s reflection. Your network grows to the extent that you can help other people without expecting them to do something for you. In most cases, healthy human beings with properly wired brains will eventually give you exactly what you give them.

The last eight words words of Matthew 7:7 hold the secret, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. What you do will impact what you get. Action – Reaction. Cause – Effect.

But you can’t expect a return, even as you have faith that it will come to pass.

And what if it doesn’t reflect back? In the words of Paul McCartney, “Let it be.” We ultimately will attract what we need IF we model the behavior. But it might not come from the person we want it from. All kids don’t grow up to be perfect. That person you thought would love you back might not. We sometimes have to fire the rock star we thought we hired. Let it go. Learn from it. Move on.

Unconditional love is caring enough about someone to allow them to become what they choose to be. If they turn out to be a reflection of the good things you try to radiate, great! If they end up unhappy, it’s not your fault.

“I’ve seen you at your best and at your worst, and I love you anyway.”

Take the words of Mother Theresa with you this week and try to incorporate them into the relationships that are the most important to you: “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”

And watch what happens.