Unconditional love at its best


Human life is created by two human lives. And that creation is nurtured by one. The second does not nuture new life. The second nurtures the nurturer who nurtures this new life. A mother’s relationship with this creation is generally accepted as “unconditional love”. And that is a love aspired to by all. Something a father can never generally achieve. The creation of life being the difference.

This morning I wonder whether a mother’s unconditional love is both “how it should be” – but also how it should not. This morning I wonder if a father’s love is equally unconditional – and equally how it should be – and how it should not.

Has something happened to prompt this pondering? Oh yes. Something always does. Is it a bad thing?

(I know the concern and care in this church of blogs – when words point to an uncomfortable place)

The answer is no. The reverse. It is an extremely wonderful thing. Maybe.

I am a man. I have accepted for almost six decades that a mother’s love is unconditional and therefore “purer” than my own. Society tells me this, Mother Mary tells me this (Joseph gets a walk-on part mostly), and we all know that God and Jesus – whilst being “men” – are a little bit special (!). So my whole living and culture tells me this: my role is to create – and then to protect and serve. And within that is love. Because – of course – I must love if I am a good human being. But as a father – not a mother. A husband – not a wife. A man – not a woman. A lesser kind of love. A less pure love. And that has always been right with me – mostly. Unconditional love is an aspiration for me. The World and God are as one on this.

Yet this morning I ponder not Love, not Unconditional Love, nor even God . I ponder my six decades world view of “unconditional”

For I see fear within this world view of unconditional love. Fear of rejection. Rejection by the loved one. Where a loved one sees other loved ones as less than sacred. What does unconditional love then choose? For choose it must – even if that choosing is to ignore the choice. Because unconditional love struggles with rejection. The pain is too great. And (maybe) “stuff” accumulates as it must – unspoken and unacknowledged. The stuff never really acknowledged as low grade fear.

Because fear infiltrates relationship. As surely as air infiltrates a sealed room, so does fear. And where fear is love cannot. Not completely. Not fully. And admitting that is uncomfortable. That is “identity” stuff. And that spills over.

In the magnificent creation of this universe created – this garden of life and living and love built and tended – there may be one “issue” to be avoided. One “hot button” for disagreement. Fences will be erected – with great love and tenderness. Remedial work will be undertaken to stay clear of that dodgy bit of ground: the mother – to maintain unconditional love, and the father – to protect and serve and keep safe the whole, and “the husband and wife” – because they love each other obviously. Yet fear creeps in. To maintain “the creation” both have created.

So this morning I ponder: if God had been a mother, would the “unconditional love for all” have clashed with the “unconditional love for one”? If God had been solely a “man” would He be able to reconcile both? Because God has no such issues that I can see.

Jesus was a man. Yet I look at his life and see a Trinity: mother, father and child all in one. God is “a man” yet we have the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And I see unconditional love at its best: one-to-one – with everyone – for each and with each – allowing each to make their own decisions – their own choices. Every single person as “sacred” – Jesus had no fear of rejection – God has no fear of rejection – the Holy Spirit has no fear of rejection. Yet they seem complete with each. Each as important as the other. Always.

And this morning I see this: unconditional is “unconditional.”

Not just for the ones “I love” or who I created or who I like or who are important to me – that is “conditional unconditional love” (and we are all experts at that). Because maybe a mother’s – and a father’s – definition … neither of them are God Soft Hands Jesus’ definition. A wife’s – and a husband’s – definition … neither are enough on their own. Neither right … neither wrong. Just “not enough”.

And maybe when we realise that … and embrace GSHJ’s definition of “unconditional” … then we liberate ourselves and each other. And maybe then we can truly love without fear – wholly and completely.

And God knows that is liberating!

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12 thoughts on “Unconditional love at its best

  1. What a rich post, Paul! I read it hours ago, and yet it still reverbs within me.

    My first thought, which has just broadened since, is a joyful and agreeing nod. I had this tremendous sense of the realization of two elements that seem paradoxical and opposed, and yet both true at the same time…

    I agree very much that we are “growing” in our sense of the meaning, of understanding, of experiencing the “definition” of “unconditional”. This is simply not a human, natural concept that we can, as people, relate to. Certainly not “easily”… perhaps not even at all “humanly” or “naturally”. That, on the face of it, would seem a depressing realization. On the face of it…

    But for one thing, when we are open to the experience, we can grow each and every day in our understanding and experience of this truth… our egos can diminish by degrees, our hearts can expand by degree, our boundaries can dissolve and our faith and embracing of one another without our tribalisms can flourish day by day…

    A friend of mine once wrote to me… “Perhaps the whole journey in our growth as true human beings and true children of the Father and true citizens of the kingdom is nothing more – and surely nothing less – than growth in being seized by an ever increasing experience of God’s love. If the growth is not, at base, growth in being seized at a greater depth by His love, I doubt that it is growth (except may [sic] the growth of a nice looking weed).”

    But there is another truth, I believe. A more exciting truth, beneath all of that, more fundamental than all of that. Which is that regardless of the extent of our conscious awareness or daily experience of “unconditional love”, it is nonetheless ours… on us, in us, part of us, accessible to us in direct intuition and inspiration. Our “ponderings” can, perhaps always will, fall short. But our actual BEING cannot escape the reality that He in us IS us, as we truly ARE. Therefore, we are NOT separated from “unconditional” love… whether Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free.

    Hard for me to wrap words around this… but the God we “experience”… IS “unconditional love”. We often think of “God” as Him (Person), and “Love” as it (Noun… Stuff)… somehow of a substance, essence, and being apart from… characteristic of but separate from… Him. Day by day, however, I realize ever more that this is not so. “Love” is His Name… His essence and substance… His Being… so the Him we experience, the Him that refracts through us to others… the Radiance of His Glory that we reflect to Him… all that IS “unconditional Love”.

    Now, we may only “comprehend” the tiniest infinitesimal fraction of All That… but not even we can change its nature. And, comprehension or not, we “apprehend”, we “embrace”, we “believe by faith”… His Love Himself. And it just is what it is… He is What He is… He is Who He is. Our limitations affect only our perceptions, not His nature or Presence.

    I hope that doesn’t all come off as sancti-babble… but what it leaves me with is this tremendous encouragement. That I often bemoan the limitations of my own understanding, my comprehension, of All That He Is. But whenever I do, He seems to draw alongside to comfort me with the realization that every day I grow in discovery of Him… which is to grow in joy… in excitement… in light… in love. I am born a finite, limited creature by His will. But I am granted the capacity to KNOW Him utterly and completely, (“this is eternal life, to know Thee…”) even in the same life and state when I may yet ever learn more ABOUT Him.

    In meditation, study, hearing… all my limitations and boundaries apply. I am limited by that which I can comprehend. In contemplation, all that is gone. I am utterly unlimited in simply apprehending Him as He is. The Cloud of Unknowing probably describes all this better than I ever could, but years ago I mistook its meaning. I thought I needed to “penetrate”, to “pass through” the cloud. I have found that my need was to “inhale” and “embrace” it instead.

    Anyway, what a terrific post. Part of me agrees. But then… there’s this underneath part that whispers as well… “you cannot ignore what you know and embrace, that lies beyond what you comprehend of experience or understanding.” In that fundamental knowing and relationship, there is no fear… only joy… and yes, liberation.

    Grace — LM

    • LM – thank you. I too read your reply hours ago and have sat on it all day – work and stuff like that.

      “The Cloud of Unknowing probably describes all this better than I ever could, but years ago I mistook its meaning. I thought I needed to “penetrate”, to “pass through” the cloud. I have found that my need was to “inhale” and “embrace” it instead.”

      I think something like that happened this morning. An inhalation. Seeing “unconditional” in a new way. Seeing the absence of biological growing of life in a new way, the absence perhaps enhancing what I have seen a less pure love – maybe in a more powerful way than I have before. That biology is what we zone in on, yet the spiritual love of “nurturing the nurturer” is perhaps as “unconditional” if not more.

      Even as I was writing this post – the “God stuff” was crowding in. That with the absence of “biology” between my mum and God and me – at least in my current understanding – I KNOW the unconditional love of GSHJ. I FEEL that. And – once I sat and realised it – I ACCEPT that for others as well as myself. I accept being told no. Maybe that is because another has been told yes, maybe another has also been told no, maybe maybe maybe on and on. Yet it is enough. I trust. I know.

      Then here replicating that here – stumble trip and boing! Nowhere near. A no to one is a slap in the face. A yes to another is an offence to one who did not hear a yes. And on and on.

      I think I am at place of rest (although with some itchy feet). I desire to be better at “unconditional” – yet unskilled at the practice. Still a yes over there is a no over here. Both et giving – and sometimes the receiving. The dynamics fox me! But today lifted me a little higher. Not in expertise. But in “value” – self worth and value. That even though I have not cracked it and never will – more is possible. More Him is possible. More Love is possible. More unconditional is possible.

      And that is exciting. That is liberating. Just have to practice the practical more often!! Finesse the mess. And keep drawing back into Him. The Source.

  2. “Jesus was a man. Yet I look at his life and see a Trinity: mother, father and child all in one. God is “a man” yet we have the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And I see unconditional love at its best: one-to-one – with everyone – for each and with each – allowing each to make their own decisions – their own choices. ” Amen. That’s so good, Paul. We see the perfect Family in the trinity. The Holy Spirit is the nurturing “Mother,” if you will.
    Another thought…the only problem we have with unconditional love is that it has no conditions. 🙂
    Blessings.

  3. Pingback: It has no conditions | Just me being curious

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  5. Paul, so glad I came upon this today, with all the comments. Funny – (not ‘haha’ funny, but interesting funny) – when I attempt to study or intellectualize or discuss or write about unconditional love, it gets complicated, beyond my scope. Yet, like you and Mel and LM – there are distinct times when I do actually feel it, accept it, even offer it. It’s like it happens through osmosis, from God’s heart to mine through the Holy Spirit. It springs from inside and disperses throughout my veins. And this essence overcomes me, and I know without question it is the unconditional love of Jesus. I am only conscious it does not come from me. And that is it unquestionably the most lovely thing I have ever felt.

    • Susan – thank you. Oddly, the motivation for writing was probably (with hindsight) a lot of conditional love dressed up in my own mind as “unconditional”. And yet … along comes Mel with that wonderful thought – and so much I have rested in with “love is always the answer” seems too small, too defined, too “me”. That His “no conditions” love has just become another “how does that work”.
      Your words make so much sense: osmosis, essence, only conscious, complicated, intellectualize, the most lovely thing I have felt.
      (and now I get “complicated” when the words tie each other up!)
      🙂

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