Unconditional Love, Really?

January 18, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Unconditional love is not fully possible. We are mortal creatures of living and dying and how we love and what we love is conditional upon where we stand in the drama…” David Whyte, Consolations

If you have read recent posts, it must be obvious that David Whyte’s book, Consolations, is my daily morning inspirational reading. And boy, have I gleaned much from it. I read one chapter per day and then write in my journal. So, for that reason you find so much of my recent writing inspired by Whyte.

The Unconditional Love of God Questioned

I was deeply moved this morning by David’s writings on Unconditional Love. Finally, someone is speaking an obvious truth about the virtually untouchable Christian mantra of Unconditional Love. All one need do is read the Torah to discover that multi-thousands were killed under the direct instruction or intervention of God. And so many of them followers of God—just read the Book of Numbers. And one is forced to at least redefine the idea of Unconditional Love.

Love is most certainly a conditional affair (pun intended). Personally, I am incapable of loving someone that does not treat me with respect and freedom. Of course I can be nice, but I dare not “let them in!” To love as Whyte concludes is a consequence of “where I stand in the drama…”

What Does it Mean, “To Love?”

I guess this begs the question: What does it mean, “to love?” The word has such a vast field of meaning that, for me, it borders on meaninglessness. It can range from a most deeply regarded emotion to some kind of mental assent of offering some form for care and caring for another. It is the former which I address today, “a deeply regarded emotion.” THAT kind of love is certainly conditional founded on mutuality and history. And, again, it is founded on where I stand in the drama of life and life’s situations.

Unconditional love is not even a reasonable goal, unless one is referring to one’s children. And then something biological and historical supersedes reason and experience. I cannot even imagine the situation in which I would fail to love Austin. However, one cannot say the same thing about marriage when the divorce rate in the US exceeds 50%. Obviously love was conditionally based.

The Accountability of Love

Unconditional love fails to take into account mutual responsibility, accountability and care. When one cannot depend on those three characteristics then love simply ceases to be. Discontentment and disengagement are the most natural consequences.

Now, I do not at all intend to say that one is not, on the other hand, responsible to “put up with” malcontent with one’s spouse, significant other or some other deep relationship. Yes, deeply committed love requires forgiveness and acceptance of another’s shortcomings. Those are necessary for love to even have a chance.

But… that DOES NOT require accepting abuse or even the very real matter of a longer term “falling out of love.”

I hope my love for my wife is not conditionally based upon her having to be the answer to all my relational needs. That would be an unfair demand. And yet, I must accept the responsibility of loving her in ways that she knows she is loved and cared for.

Still It is Worthy of Trying

She too owns conditions for our love as does every human. My job is to understand those needs and to do my ever-failing best to make her feel loved. It is conditional love. But softly so.

May we all care that much.

Unconditional Love

So Unrealistic, But So Beautiful!

Photo courtesy of Relentless_one at istockphoto

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