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.