January 7, 2016
“All of us would prefer to have the experience of unconditional love without having to take the risk of letting someone know us that well!”
Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
We speak much of unconditional love. If I’m to be honest, I’m still not convinced that even the best of us on this earth are capable of it with any sort of real regularity. I do not claim to be among the best and as such, it’s a daily struggle for me. I love those most who love me in return. I give to those most who have given to me. I cherish those most who have invested the most in me.
It is difficult for me to love the stranger, to welcome the angel, to pardon the criminal, to bless the outsider. It is vastly more difficult for me to take it a step further and extend unconditional love to those I know best. To those whose deceptions with which I am most familiar. To those whose errors have bruised me most deeply. To those whose arrogance, enmity and superiority surround me most often. To those who obey most infrequently. To those who ignore me most regularly. To those who despise me while they speak to my face. To those who speak with me only to mine for that which they can use against me should the time ever arise. It is easier, far easier, to love my enemy than it is to love him that calls himself a friend in my presence and rejects me a moment later. Yes, I will admit it openly, to be or to say otherwise is nothing short of a soul-level lie. I and this foe called unconditional love stand on opposite sides of the ring and stare one another down waiting for the other to show weakness, to step short, to, in a word, fail.
It is accessible. It is receivable. I think what we see when we see unconditional love expressed is a two-way nature. It is not something we can dam up and hold on to, releasing when we so choose. It is not something we can store away for a rainy day. Unconditional love is not the treasure we store up in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy. It’s best expression is here. It’s time is now. To be loved unconditionally MUST be to love unconditionally. We are to be a conduit, not a bank.
Thus, if I am ever to show unconditional love, it will be when I myself can most truly and deeply receive it and not before.
For only when I can receive that level of love, which can ONLY originate from the Father, will the stranger be a brother, will the angel be a long-lost friend, will the criminal be an ally and the outsider be a son. Only when I can find and hold lastingly to that love will the deception become invisible and errors forgotten. Only when I can be FULLY loved, will I be able to also love and then I will see arrogance, enmity, superiority, disobedience, disrespect and spite no more. I will see the faces of the other children of God that He, in His infinite and perfect wisdom, has granted me the blessing to walk with in the few moments that I have.
That will be when I can also love unconditionally. And not a moment before.