*smile* Thank you dear, for such an engaged response.
In all the instances you raised of people loving when it is difficult, they are instances of unconditional love in the way I meant it. But of course, no human being is capable of offering that kind of love all the time. The same people who love us the most unconditionally at other times also show conditional love, whether or not they realize it. These instances of conditional love do not negate the instances of unconditional love they show, but they still wound us. I meant only that these wounds are nevertheless significant, even though we know the person actually loves us very much.
Neither do I mean that I expect to be loved perfectly by another person, though I think we are all born with that desire. I am merely acknowledging that because I am not, I have wounds. I should not ignore my wounds because I think it is ungrateful to think this way of someone who also shows me many more instances of unconditional love. Acknowledging my wounds and stepping over them through forgiveness actually allows me to behold just how beloved I am by the very people who hurt me. The warmth of their love becomes all the more brilliant when I accept their humanity. :)
I am capable of instances of unconditional love, but far from the perfect unconditional love that God offers. I am not able to offer such perfect unconditional love even to myself. Every instance of unconditional love occurs when we think not of ourself, but of the other. To make unconditional love a life-discipline rather than a series of sporadic ventures is a huge challenge because I need to empty myself.
I wish to be able to give without asking in return. But I cannot deny I am hurt deeply when those whom I love do not or cannot reciprocate. To those whom I give the most, I often expect the most in return. Would I, as mother next time, be able to love my children whether or not they are grateful to me, whether or not they respect me? In a general sense, I think I can. But I bet I will be angered, and hurt, even indignant if I feel that I am not given my due. That’s normal. That’s human. But those would be indications to me that I do not love unconditionally. And every time I with-hold unconditional love, I would hurt my children too.
Can I continue to love others even when my love is rejected? Is my love deep enough that I will not hold on to them against their will, but unconditionally forgive them and rejoice if and when they return to me – like the compassionate father in the parable of The Prodigal Son?
It’s a process… the answer is neither a flat ‘no’ nor a firm ‘yes’. :) I am still too full of myself… my own doubts, my fears… to love so gratuitously. Yes, you’re right that for me, I believe that only God offers perfect unconditional love. I also believe that if I let myself be ‘received home’ in His love, He will be my healer, and my teacher. And if I’m willing to let Him live through me, I will hopefully become better and better with practicing unconditional love as a life-discpline even while I may never perfect it in this life-time!
Hello dear! :)
Yes, I agree with you: love is a discipline :) And whilst sometimes we may unwittingly show conditional love (as in your defination), that doesn’t negate the other instances of unconditional love that you have shown. The question arises as to if someone can show unconditional love to others 364 days a year, but show conditional love during that one day/instance (ok, bad example, heh).. then is that still… unconditional? I guess not. If I only show unconditional love to someone but not to someone else, I guess that is not too right :) It is very hard to say what is conditional and unconditional then.. :)
Maybe I have not reached the level of insights that you have attained :) That is why I feel that love, no matter what, is still love.. And to question if someone else’s love for you is unconditional or not is ungrateful (as you have put it).. I guess we are all not naive anymore, to think that we are capable of unconditional love, when in reality, love can test us sometimes too :) With love, there will be hurts, but then that is why love after hurting can be very great.. The ability to love even after being hurt is not something everyone can do too.. :) And that is something that I totally internalise after being a mother. For all the times I have blamed my mother silently for not understanding me, I have come to realise that her love for me even after I have hurt her, is, simply put.. love.. It may have been unconditional, it may have been not, but whatever it is, I have been a recipient of her love, and that is more than enough for me…
As an anxious mother myself, I will be lying to say I do not have expectations of my child. But then, love is not about expectations. To have expectations of a child would then seem to indicate that I am loving him/her conditionally. But as a mother of a preterm baby, I can only say that I will be more than happy if he is healthy. I believe he can do great things, but I always have a nagging feeling that his health may not be good. To love a child unconditionally despite everything that may happen is a road that all mothers have to take. It is a risk, and there is no warranty.
You are very capable of love :) And to be honest, I am not as capable as you are. But to answer yourself, I believe you can still love others even when your love is rejected. Because love is a choice. And while love may never be perfect, we should be grateful for being loved.
I feel so honoured (and embarressed) that you dedicated this whole entry to me… Heh…
*laughs* Dearest Yinwei. *smiles fondly*
(I think we’re gonna make all my blog readers faint if we unleash the full power of our correspondence on my blog! ha ha)
Everything you said here rings true for me too. You know me lah, when I get theoretical and philosophical, definitions and meanings become very specific. Blame it on my ‘philosophical’ training :P
The brokenness of human love is exactly what makes it beautiful. The love that is given after the struggle over self – each instance of unconditional love – is amazing to behold precisely because it is not easy.
Love is love, as you put it. It isn’t quite possible to compare a capacity to love… you too are greatly capable of love. No less than me! But let us be glad that we have both grown in our ability to love since our first days as friends. And our friendship has certainly given us plenty of training in learning to love and forgive. *broad smile*
Do you have any idea how much motherhood has caused you to blossom in wisdom and maturity? A new dimension to you has emerged and it’s wonderful to behold. (I can imagine our friends, especially Ivy, nodding enthusiastically in agreement *laughs*)
Ok lah, even more embarrassed now right? But also more honoured lah… and also very pleased? *grin* No need to say lah. I KNOW. :P
Just wanna jump onto this bandwagon. Actually, the fact that we love what is good, is to a certain extent, an extrapolation from God’s nature. God, who is absolutely good, loves what is good and abhors what is bad, e.g. sin. However, the difference is that God is clear in His distinction between the sinner and the sin. God abhors the sin, but loves the sinner – unconditionally. To God, the sin does not negate the love He had for the sinner.
We, on the other hand, however, most often equate the sin to the sinner. Hence, we develop negative emotions against what we deem as “bad”. However, when someone we love commits something bad, even if against us, we show the little glimpse of our capacity to show unconditional love through forgiveness and acceptance. Which is why when our loved ones commit something bad, we tend to more readily forgive and accept them, than would to a total stranger. This inherent nature within us highlights our ability to show unconditional love, at times. Sadly, we’re not God, and we cannot show unconditional love ALL the time. But nothing stops us from showing our unconditional love for MOST of the time.
So, in short, the capacity to love unconditionally is within us, whether we are aware of it or not. And we should always strive to show unconditional love as often as possible. Which leads us to the challenge of being able to”love people who hate us”. There is, afterall, little difficulty in loving people who are nice to us, for “even the evil is capable of loving his own”.