What Does Unconditional Love Mean?
This week I attended the funeral of a truly extraordinary woman who had worked at St Mary’s College for a number of years. What struck me about the funeral, and the many warm words spoken, was the great love and esteem this woman was held in. Not just by her family and close friends but by everyone that I spoke to. Her children spoke beautifully about their mum, her grandchildren were so proud of their Nona and there were beautiful stories shared in the eulogy. Now this woman wasn’t the principal or a member of the senior executive, in fact she worked in the print room, and her role was one based on service to the community. However, this was done so beautifully and lovingly that she was a staff favourite. She really was a person who, as Mother Teresa would have said, did small things with great love. This woman was a person who accepted and loved everyone.
This leads me to the topic of this week’s blog and it’s around the idea of unconditional love. It’s a concept that’s hard to explain yet it’s something we recognise immediately when we see it. While there are many definitions of unconditional love, the one that I like speaks of unconditional love as being completely and utterly selfless. It’s a love that can’t be given, “in as much as it flows without effort from one’s heart rather than coming consciously from one’s mind, there is nothing that can stand in the way of unconditional love.” Now if you think this is a tall order you are not alone.However, each of us in our own way does show unconditional love – to our children, to our partners, to our families, to our parents – we just may not do it all of the time.
What we can show at times is conditional love. This is far more common and this love may rely on loved ones behaving in a certain way. This can sometimes
be the case in parenting when we feel disappointed when our kids behave in ways that are unacceptable after we’ve doled out huge amounts of love through
words, actions or rewards. When love is given without condition, it’s a sign that we are able to see the very worst in someone and yet still believe
that they are worthy of our compassion. It’s the part of you that forgives the seemingly unforgivable when no one else is able to.
Let’s consider what unconditional love might look like. Unconditional love is:
- Selfless - That doesn’t mean that you should never consider yourself but it does mean that you are willing to give up the things that you want to do in order to allow others to do what they want to. However, relationships should involve give and take, even when unconditional love is involved.
- Forgiving - It’s easier to hold a grudge, remain bitter or walk away angry than to forgive a hurt or offense. However, forgiveness is the first response when you love someone. If you love someone unconditionally you don’t keep track of “wins” or wrong doings, you just love.
- Allowing you to be yourself - When you are in a relationship with unconditional love, you can be completely yourself. You feel that there is a comfortable and safe space in your relationship where you can be 100% who you are. You don't need to worry about being embarrassed around these people because you know that they have your back.
- Not devaluing yourself - Part of unconditional love involves standing up for your values and what you see as being important. You have a right to respect and your voice in every relationship, so unconditional love can also be tough love.
- For the long term - When you are investing so much of yourself into a relationship you need to look at the big picture and how you get to your ideal relationship. This can involve being realistic in your expectations, accepting others as they are and being patient when people don’t meet our standards. Loving unconditionally is hard and that’s why it’s so highly valued.
Have a great weekend
Dr Frank Pitt
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