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!