Loving Unconditionally

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UNCONDITIONAL – Not contingent upon ANY condition(s)

CONDITION – Circumstances that must exist or be realized before something else is possible or permitted.

*** No circumstance must exist or be realized before LOVE is possible***

Love, unconditional love. Real UNCONDITIONAL love. It’s such a hard concept to even wrap one’s mind around. Especially if the one you love is hurting you. I remember my dad telling me once that love is not a feeling, it is a choice.  And in my marriage I made a choice to love him and to stay. But in reality it was not a choice to love it was a calculated resolve just to endure. Even in the end I said I would not divorce him, but I made my love and my marriage contingent upon his willingness to get help for a problem he didn’t recognize. And he filed. Then one day about 8 months later, Gail Hyatt sent out a tweet about loving your enemy. See it’s easy to love someone who is loving you back. But what about those that don’t?

I attended Rolling Hills Community Church this past Sunday. Thanks to Chad Jarnagin‘s invite. And the message was the last in a series on love. The opening video is what got to me. It was of a girl who was speaking on how hard it was for her to love freely without hesitation, without reserve. To give from the heart not just to those who are asking for help but joyfully giving something that is precious to us at random. It is for all of us to do this isn’t it? But what would happen if we did? What would happen if we even just tried? A little bit.

See, we were created BY LOVE, WITH LOVE, TO LOVE. It is God’s intention for us to LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY! (Borrowing from the sermon here! Thanks Pastor Jeff!) That’s it. Pure & simple. I love that idea so much, that I just have to repeat it.

WE ARE TO LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY!

I’m such a word geek, so please bear with me. Words have meaning, they have power and influence and all too often they are taken too lightly. So I love (haha) to dive into a word’s meaning and synonyms to really get a feel for the power behind a word. And look at the word extravagantly and what it means and represents:

Extravagantly -freely, without restriction, at will, candidly, deliberately, fancy-free, intentionally, openly, plainly, purposely, spontaneously, voluntarily, without hindrance, without prompting, without reserve, without restraint, without urging.

Pure and simple, right. But it’s not simple because we are human and we have been taught by other humans.  It’s hard to let go of the unspoken values we were raised with and the baggage of the past that weighs our hearts down. But it is possible with Christ in our lives. Challenging but possible. I often say that my father was the best example of Christ’s love for us that I have ever known. That is because he loved me unconditionally. Even in the bad times. Even when I was making his life hell (there were a few of those). He rarely raised his voice. He knew how to see the difference between a rebellious daughter acting out and his little girl who was really hurting and confused by life and love. So even in the bad times that’s who he loved and who he reached out to hold.

I have never in my life loved like that. Truly, never loved like that. My love has always come with conditions, with limitations and with reserve. I will love you…

  • IF you love me back
  • IF you love me the way I want you to
  • IF you believe as I believe
  • IF you give me what I want
  • IF you constantly prove it to me, over and over and over again.

I have been loving the wrong way most of my life. There are exceptions to that of course, I love my parents and siblings and kids. Especially my kids. But there have been more times than not that I have not acted like I loved my parents and sisters unconditionally. And yes, I have always loved them. But I have not shown them that love. I have not acted on that love. What they have seen, as others have in my life, is my list of conditions. My demands. I’ve held my love hostage and negotiated it’s release based on what I would get out of it. Subconsciously of course. It was never with intentional selfishness or malice, yet it happened.

There has been one friend in my life that I have loved without condition. I’ve written about her before, my friend Michele. We actually talked about this tonight. She jokingly tells her daughters that we are the girlfriend version of soul mates. And that is based upon the fact that regardless of what the other one is doing or what they are dealing with, between us there is no judgment, there is only friendship and love. That’s hard to come by because even the best of girlfriends have it out at times.

This phenomena of unconditional love occurred for me a few weeks ago out of the blue with another friend, of the male variety. We were in a sensitive situation where I felt betrayed, hurt in some way. But in reality I wasn’t. He is one individual who has been nothing but straight up honest and transparent with me from day one. So after some consideration of the circumstances I realized that what I was feeling was mine. I owned it. It was all of that baggage and resentments that I had carried around for years, especially when it comes to men. All of my IFs, so to speak. And then came a pivotal moment, a moment that I had to chose to either hang on to my insecurity and fear or let them go and just love freely. Love Extravagantly.

And I did! I’m not sure how or why it came over me, but I finally got it. I made the choice to love without hesitation or restraint. Nor was with the rose-colored glasses of romantic love that skews all things. It was just love. And it was a choice. Can I tell you the weight of the world lifted off my heart in that one moment. And it was clear to me without question how insanely freeing it was to feel pure unconditional love. WOW! I can’t describe it. But I finally got it at age 40. This is what it means, this is what it feels like.

This is how Christ loves us! Unconditionally, without reservation or limits or conditions. He loves us with all of our flaws and mistakes and years of wrong doing. He loves us like this. And we are to love like this. It is hard. But it is possible. We are to love each other, friend or foe, like this. Not just the our friends and our families. Not just the people who are easy to love. Not just the ones that make us happy. Not just the ones who love us back. Not just the ones who believe as we believe. But everyone.

It is what we were created to do. This is what we all deserve to receive in life. To be loved like this. This is also what we all are responsible to give in life. To love like this. Everyone. Extravagantly.

Love at 3

emma-me-xmas-08“I love you mommy!” Planting kisses on my cheeks. I hear this 20 times a day, at least. 

“I missed you mommy!” She clings to my legs as I come back from getting the mail. 

“Please sit with me mommy!” She pleads sometimes with tears in her eyes, most often in the evening when she finds me in the kitchen or office. 

“But please mommy!” She begs, desperation dripping down her face as the tears come. It is night and once again the only place she is not restless or stirring is in my bed.

I am her world. The only one that makes her feel loved, safe and secure. 

I really AM her world.

Not that I didn’t expect to be. But she has always been very independent. Very laissez-faire about me being in the room. But as of late my easy going, care free daughter has become clingy, needy, and so very affectionate. And I savor those moments, as inconvenient as they can be. Breathing them in, knowing far too well that one day she will shun me for this or that as most teenage daughters do to their mothers at some point. 

And I worry too. I worry that her irrational fear of me leaving the room or the house to get the mail is something buried deep inside her festering. One minute she is fine and the next she is a whirlwind panic of emotions.

It almost resembles those early teen years of puppy love hysteria. You remember the kind, when the object of your affection determined your mood and emotional stability with a fleeting glance. The heart pounding, gut wrenching feeling that your life is either over or you’re on top of the world with your rose colored glasses singing, “He loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah.” 

She loves me. Always asking, “Are you happy mommy?” She even mirrors my emotions with heart-felt tears the few times I was caught crying, unaware I had an audience. The strong willed defiance that I used to see has been replaced by a sweet girl who is so eager to please. So needing to make everyone in her world ok. 

She loves with the purest of loves that is possible. Love at 3 is instinctual. It is not born of obligation or guilt. It is not jaded from baggage gathered through the years. It is not twisted. It has no strings. Love at 3 is selfless. innocent and pure. 

I wish I could save that part of her that the world will destroy. But I know I can not. So for now I will let her crawl in my bed at night when she’s scared. I will rock her when she’s not feeling quite her self. Yes, I will even kiss her fingers and toes when she asks, as she does frequently.

And I will remember the tears that I cried while writing these things to help save that part of her in some small way. Even if it is only on paper.

Dear God, It’s Me…

 

Dear God, It's Me...

My place on beach in FLA.

Dear God, 

It’s me. I know life isn’t fair and every other cliche thats out there. And I know we’re supposed to rely on You for everything. EVERYTHING! Because in reality You are the only one that can meet all of our needs. But I’m struggling a little bit with my expectations of people and I need help. 

Going through the divorce really showed me, who my friends really were. Someone who had been very close to me for over almost two years stopped speaking to me. She knew the hell my kids and I were going through and my desperate struggle between right & wrong and protecting them. But the minute I agreed to the divorce, our friendship ended. 

My best friend since August of 1991 has been beside me through thick and thin and this past year is no exception. She has blessed me with her support, not only emotionally, but spiritually and physically. She is honest without being judgmental. I can be me with her and know she will still love me. In a way, she’s the closest thing I have to You. I mean, well, You know what I mean. 

Then there are others who’ve been in my life for a long time and some for a very short time. I think this is where I struggle. I have become close to 3 of these women on different levels throughout the year. Each of these friendships have taken different paths than I expected them too. It’s not been all that pleasant. Two of the issues I’ve made peace with, but one is really bothering me. I’m not sure what to do with my hurt feelings. I keep telling myself that it’s ok, people are not perfect and I just need to rise above it all. But it’s hard. 

My life coach (Dr. F) has said that single moms don’t need a shoulder to cry on, they need someone to carry the groceries. And friends are like water in a bucket with a hole in the bottom. You have to keep putting new ones in on top because as time goes on some fall out of the bottom. I know what he’s saying is true, I just wish it wasn’t. 

I’m in this weird place. Many singles at church have never been married and don’t have kids, so they treat me a little differently. Friends that are married with kids have their own life to live. I’ve joined a couple of single moms groups that have never taken off, thus never connecting with them. Many of the women from my divorce group are all very embedded with their already established friends.

I don’t have my kids this entire week and I’ve tried to connect with friends I haven’t seen in a while and  everyone is busy. Not begrudging them their business, but it’d be nice to have a friend who called me to go out to dinner. Everyone’s Facebook page is shouting “My friends are the best” and honestly I’m a bit jealous. 

I guess what I’m saying is I’d like to find my tribe. I thought I was on my way to doing this, but I’m not sure. I need good solid Christian women in my life. I’m a very loyal friend who really gives a lot to my friendships.

Anyway, I figured that’s something You can help with me.

Dear Tech Support,

Blogging_WritingDear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance – particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 and then installed undesirable programs such as NFL 5.0, NBA 3.0, and Golf Clubs 4.1. Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.
I’ve tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?

Signed, Desperate
———————————————————————–
Dear Desperate,

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an Operating System. Please enter the command: ‘I Thought You Loved Me.exe’, try to download Tears 6.2 and don’t forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.
But remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0, or Beer 6.1. Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law 1.0. It runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.
Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Hot Food 3.0 and Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck,

Tech Support

How Twitter Can Improve Your Sex Life

tweetsex1

 

Intimacy Without Intricacies

This is a line from the movie Deception. It was based on a scenario of having random ‘encounters’ with strangers and not having to deal with the minutiae of a relationship. It struck a nerve. Is is possible to have real intimacy without intricacies? 

This made me think, a lot. Going beyond the implication of just sex and applying it to all of our relationships, even the one we have with God. It is in fact what we do, isn’t it? In this microwave society, we want everything to come easy, in half the time, with little to no effort or strain. It’s what is possibly the cause of a great number of divorces driven by poor communication.

Bear with me as I peel the onion another layer. I’m big on defining words, so let’s start there…

Intimacy:  ~ a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.  ~ a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.

Intricacy: ~ marked by elaborately complex detail. ~ having many interrelated parts or facets; entangled or involved

If you look at the two words’ definitions, especially those highlighted in blue, it would seem that you absolutely can not have true intimacy without intricacy. For intimacy thrives only in an environment of detailed, close association; which is precisely what intricacy brings to the table. 

I’ve seen this example in many relationships. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it fail more often than thrive. Two people, whether they are spouses or close friends, need to maintain a level of communication that is constant and somewhat deep to nurture their relationship. Without it, life begins to take hold and slowly but surely creates a divide in the relationship. It doesn’t happen over night, but over time. Without a connection, without the conversation, distance in the relationship ensues and eventually you are so used not to talking, you have nothing to say.  You have either found someone else to talk to or are living in painful silence. This has happened to me with a couple of friends, in my marriage and even in my relationship with God.  

The long and short of it is, you have to have communication, a detailed knowledge with integrated parts to thrive in a relationship. Thus, intricacies create true intimacy. 

So where does Twitter stand in all of this?  

That’s easy! What modern day communication tool do we use that creates (somewhat) detailed knowledge providing familiarity and close association with those who use it? Twitter!

Historically at work, I would see co-workers brush off phone calls from their spouses as quickly as possible or people who didn’t speak to their spouses all day. I also saw just a few co-workers who would keep in constant contact with each other 4, 5, even 6 phone calls a day. At the time, I thought it was insane and very unproductive. But now as I have grown older and wiser I see the benefit, the intimacy, that communication between two people can create. 

This is where Twitter really rocks!  It lets you stay in constant communication with people you love. Even just the general tweets help develop a sense of communication and relationship. Throw in some direct ‘private’ tweets during the day and BAM! you have a great recipe for a creating intimacy in your relationship! 

Two people who exemplify this on a daily basis are @gailhyatt and @michaelhyatt. I was very taken aback by the sweetness in their public tweets to each other and about each other. At first, I though someone was sucking up because they were in the doghouse. LOL! But then I realized that this is just their expression of closeness and intimacy in their relationship that they are continuing to nurture and grow. It’s a breath of fresh air to see that real life example of such a positive relationship. 

So, to those couples out there tweeting together – Great job! Keep it up! Spice up some of those direct tweets and who knows what will happen. JUST REMEMBER TO USE THE ‘D’ TO MAKE THEM DIRECT. The rest of us don’t want to know what kind of special evening your planning for your spouse. 🙂

If your spouse isn’t quite game, have them read this post and see if it changes their mind. Good Luck!