Don’t We all Want Unconditional Love?

25 Jun

When I was in high school, I got into an unfortunate phase in which I challenged the love of a wise older friend (my math teacher) to the breaking point.

I didn’t do anything illegal or immoral (I was a “goody goody” in high school); I rather beat her up emotionally by playing silly little games with her to see whether she would still give me love in spite of the emotional garbage with which she was presented.

She prevailed.  But she didn’t do it by sinking to my level.  She wrote me a pain-filled letter one day in which she challenged me to evaluate whether I still wanted and needed her as a friend or whether I had, perhaps, outgrown her.

Wise woman!  She made me realize that her love wasn’t the issue; I was.  My changing behaviors, never the same from day to day, made our relationship very unstable.  That instability was inevitable, considering the messy input I was shoving into the relationship on my end.

I stopped, and we are still friends to this day.

My situation brings up a common heart cry of our day.  We say we all want unconditional love.  I submit that we all want “agape” love (the Greek word for the love that God provides).  Our heart cry is really, truly for the love that God sends to us directly through His creation and through other people.

God’s love finds us at our worst, but does not leave us there.  It brings us to a better place, making us more like Him.  It becomes, in the end, the way to find our “better self” which is the self made in His image that He created us to become.

Agape love also contains the very power of God.  It not only shows us the changes that are possible in our lives, but it provides the power and the grace to attain them in Him. 

Unconditional love turns out to be a very pale, anemic thing in comparison to agape love.  Unconditional love is the demand of a child to be left alone to remain childish.  

Let’s walk unconditional love out to its logical conclusion.  In its most extreme form, unconditional love would be a person who never learned to do one adult thing as his body grew to adulthood.  This person would be a huge, adult lump of protoplasm, lying in a heap on the floor, crying for milk and a diaper change, and expecting everyone to love him just the way he is!  

You say that would never happen and you are right.  But with our demands for unconditional love, some of us do to others emotionally what that adult lying on the floor would be doing physically.  

I did that to my teacher emotionally, and I will regret that always, despite her love and her subsequent forgiveness of my actions.

The logical conclusion of unconditional love would be the extreme of thinking that it should not matter to a friendship if someone found out that his friend was secretly a child molester.  

Or that friends should remain just as close when it turns out that one of them is using the other to cover up deceiving her spouse.  

No, we all recoil from that and say that we could not feel the same love for a friend who turned out to be molesting children or deceiving a spouse.  And we are right to say that.

You see, unconditional love does not work.  Even God does not love unconditionally.  His love begins with us when we are every bit as fallen as that child molester or adulterer but it does not end there. 

And we pose an impossible dilemma when we demand that our friends love us unconditionally.  That they put up with every ounce of garbage we can fling at them.  

My teacher taught me a better way.  

Agape comes to the person who is being childish and challenges her to grow.  It then gives her the power to do so.

Thank God for His agape love! 

P.S. I think I will post this to my teacher in a Facebook Messenger post.  She will love that!


One Response to “Don’t We all Want Unconditional Love?”

  1. Monica June 25, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

    Very thought-provoking! Good message. Thank you, Mary. 🙂

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