One of the hardest things to do is be completely and truly unconditional in action. More specifically, being able to give and do for a person without receiving any reciprocation. It’s not uncommon to see a man give and do for a woman he intends to be with, but in his mind he’s expecting something in return at some point. In fact, all of that is done in order to elicit a response from her; for her to feel that he is worth her time and emotional effort. It is most likely that he will not continue to do these things if she doesn’t give an indication that she plans to give anything in return, be it material or emotional. Many people will draw the conclusion that all of what he did is now a waste of time and money since he didn’t get out of it what he was expecting, but I believe I have an opposing argument. All of his efforts should not be considered useless just because he did not get out what he was expecting if his actions were connected to the true sentiment of his heart, which was a genuine interest in the woman. Many take an approach to love that says “My actions are contingent upon the reactions I receive” or “Whatever you do to me, I will do that or even less in return” because in our mind it has to be ‘even’. People don’t always verbalize this perspective but its exhibited in one way or another.
What’s wrong with giving more? What is it that makes us feel “cheated” for giving more to someone than they give us? Of course the answer has to do with our human nature and natural propensity to think of our own feelings as most important. I’ve heard it called self preservation. However, in my quest to understand God’s heart, I’ve been faced with the hard lesson of learning to love unconditionally. This is undoubtedly the most vulnerable place to be emotionally. The common misconception is that being unconditional has to do with accepting a person as who they are. While that is a part of the definition there is so much more. The aspect of unconditional that I’ve become acquainted with lately has been continuing to give 100% even without reciprocation and not regretting it. I never thought I would have to admit to myself that I love someone who I wasn’t sure felt the same way. But when it comes down to it, I can’t deny the truth just because I am unsure of the other party’s sentiments. The reality is that God loved and loves us before we did things that please Him. He loves us all before we confess that we love Him and He doesn’t withhold his confession or acts of love from us until we turn to Him. In fact He goes to great lengths to show us how much He loves us. The epitome of unconditional is when you don’t allow the conditions of the relationship to determine how you express your true feelings. What I have come to understand is that it is pointless to hold back. God has pushed me past the place of contingent love, which I’m sure will come in handy when I get married. Love can be sweet but it can also hurt. A time will come when it’s difficult to love your spouse but since you’ve made a vow before God you cannot choose when you will or will not exhibit your love for them.
Love with no regrets.
Love is such an abstract idea and is therefore expressed and felt differently. I won’t say that there’s a right or wrong way to love or that there are definite signs of whether or not it is “real” love, but I think I’ve recently experienced the true essence of love.
For a long time I would believe I was in love with someone based on how they made me feel. When they would give me the right amount of attention and do nice things for me, when I knew they were thinking about me and wanted to be with me all the time, those things made me love a person. Recently though, I have a new understanding of love. This love is selfless, my love is no longer based on the attention I receive, but it is now tied to the well being of the person I love. I never knew you could love someone who you don’t spend much time with, but here I am, loving someone from afar. They have not done anything for me, yet I love them. I am constantly concerned about how they are doing. In fact, there are times that I am unhappy knowing that they are discontent. In true love, you are affected by the condition of the person you love. Love hurts sometimes, and not only when someone breaks up with you. It is a risk to attach yourself to someone and allow yourself to love them because once you’re in, it’s hard to disconnect yourself. And since you can’t disconnect yourself what happens is you end up bearing the pains and sufferings of that person. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient and kind. The New King James version says that love suffers long. The situation may not always last for a long time, but when you love someone you should be willing to suffer as long as it takes for the situation to change. You can’t only love someone and be there for them when things are good, love is truly exhibited in those hard times. In fact, a person may claim that you don’t love them based on the fact that you weren’t there when they needed you the most. And if you aren’t willing to be there when they need you the most, it’s quite possible you may need to grow in the love department. The Bible says that love bears up under all things. This is why traditional wedding vows are so important. (One should probably read and meditate on the words of wedding vows, prior to the wedding, to get a real sense of what they are agreeing to.) When you say those vows, you are stating that no circumstance can or will change your commitment to that person. Love should be unwavering and unconditional.
In relationships I say that I don’t want to say ‘I love you’ to my significant other until I’ve had the opportunity not to love them, but I still chose to. In saying that I mean that I don’t want to get caught up and say I love you during the wonderful bliss of a new relationship when everything seems to be perfect and we enjoying being around each other, etc. Rather when the truth comes out and we start to see the ugly parts of one another, that’s when the decision is made to accept them completely for who they are and therefore commit to loving all of them.
Also at that moment, it is important to love them for who they are at that time. Many people fall in love with or stay with potential in hopes that the person will become who they want them to be. That is an unrealistic trap because if they never change, they aren’t to blame for your unhappiness with them because you formed unrealistic expectations in your head. What should happen is when you’ve observed them in many instances, you should evaluate them as a partner. If you feel the ugly parts of them are things you can’t see yourself overlooking for the rest of you all’s lives, nor does the person see it necessary or feasible to change those things, the next step is to evaluate whether it is worth making a fuss over and if you feel it is, you should consider ending the relationship. That seems very cut and dry, but the problem most people have is that they agree to something they know drives them crazy and then later they can’t figure out what the problem is. The problem is that they hoped they could force change on someone over time when that person never planned on changing and now they’re stuck with something they can’t stand.
All in all, love is more than just saying “I love you”, it’s not a feeling but rather an action. Love is best exemplified by our Heavenly Father who loved us enough to forgive us eternally for any sin we would commit, just so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. Love isn’t only good times, hugs and kisses it is also found in tears and truth. Allow yourself to love unconditionally as our savior loves us, suffer with those you love and rejoice with them as well. It’s all in love and it’s all worth it.