"Before you commit to loving someone, make sure they can love you unconditionally.'
It was typed over a pretty picture on Facebook. You know the ones where sayings are presented beautifully so we all share the concept?
But this statement is seriously flawed. It advices holding love until...until something happens. In other words, your love should be conditional on the other person's love being unconditional!
Do we even understand what unconditional love is? While the term is used a lot, but rarely is real love displayed. Everyone is hungry for it. We look for approval, acceptance, affirmation and call that love. But our need is deeper. We long for a person to relate to. We want to feel secure as we share our history, mistakes and hopes, knowing it won't appear on facebook next week. We crave a person that will walk the road beside us. But will they love us when we're sick and ugly; ill or even dying? What about when they encounter our smelly feet or discover all their chocolate has been eaten?
Unconditional love is deeper than all the above. It lays down its life, puts aside its needs and wants, forgives and forgives again. It loves even when relationships can no longer be reconciled because of abuse. It loves until death.Only one who has experienced love can give such a love. When a person's love tank is full, they have a capacity to continue loving other, regardless.
As a parent my love ran out. I could no longer give anything of myself to my child. Lies and false accusations, rejection and constant demands had bled me dry. I was finished, ready to give up, run away or die. Anything to escape the pain.
Good friends halted my flight. Trapped with no escape, I sought God. I asked Him a simple question. 'What message can I send her?'
Revelation broke through. I was in a busy shopping centre. Did others see it or hear bells? No. As I sat, I suddenly understood that regardless of the abuse and blame I had hurled at God most of my life, He still suffered and died for me. Yes, I'd been taught such things. But that day my heart burst open as I experienced His love poured out for me. He loved me regardless of my behaviour toward Him, my indifference to His love, my rejection of His quiet words. He was still there waiting, offering forgiveness, restoration, a new beginning. Never condoning my stupid behaviour, but never withdrawing His affection for me. In a matter of minutes everything changed. Now I could love my child continually, regardless of behaviour and words spoken.
No longer was I trying to get my love from her. She couldn't supply it. Now my source of love never stops and it overflows to others, bringing healing, acceptance and wholeness. That was twenty years ago. I've tested it. Yes, His love for me (and for you) never runs dry.