A Woman's Voice

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Unconditional Love versus Conditional Love ~ June 2, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

A friend of mine has been having a difficult time the last couple of months. She has a married son. He is her only child and he has one son, her only grandchild. They live several hundred miles apart so she doesn’t see this precious little family very often.  My friend has gotten to know her infant grandchild very well through the use of Skype and other means of communication with her son and daughter-in-law.

However, last time they came home to visit, there was an unfortunate turn of events and things did not go well. Now, the communication is no longer the same. There is no more Skyping and the emails are few and far between. She mentioned something that prompted me to write this article. She said that when they do communicate, that the “sign off” is now different. They don’t always “sign off” with their name or they don’t “sign off” with the word “love” anymore. I find this very odd.

I have also had the misfortune of unsmooth relationships in my life. How about you? Please bear with me as I ask a few more questions. Does anyone really know and understand the meaning of “unconditional love”?  When we are not offering others “perfect love” which is what “unconditional love” is all about, what are we really offering? We all know that there is no such thing as perfect people. If the love we have for others is based on the expectation of perfection or requires others to conform to our way of thinking, it is doomed to fail.

So I dare to ask, what kind of love do you offer?  Loved based on conditions is really not love at all. It is a pseudo-love that must be earned in order to receive it or we must behave in a certain way to in order to be worthy of it. When someone upsets us and we still need to communicate for whatever reason, it may be merely as simple as looking at how we now “sign off” in our communication after the altercation. Take a moment to think about it and you will know exactly what I mean. We really can be a lot more apparent than we realize.

It’s can be likened to child’s play…I won’t love you anymore if…I won’t play with you anymore if…I won’t help you anymore if…

Have you altered your relationships and now wonder why things are different?  Try to keep in mind that for every action….there is a reaction. Have you changed your “sign off”? How have other things changed and why? Have you spoken “about” the person instead of “to” the person? Simple questions but not so easy to answer.  It is very difficult to take responsibility for our part in unsmooth relationships.

It’s easy to love someone when we agree. To love “unconditionally” is to love others like God loves us. The true test comes when we don’t agree and there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is “unconditional love” and it makes a whole world of difference.

“To love is a beautiful, mysterious event; do not miss it.
Be neither too cautious nor too absorbed. Too many of
us reason with our hearts and experience with our heads.
It cannot be so. The heart knows no logic beyond need
and desire; the head has no senses except the common
and the pragmatic. Neither, frankly, is useful in love
anyway. Rely on your sixth sense, that little voice within.
There is no preparation for or protection from the joy and
pain of relationships. They are inseparable twins. One follows another. And make no mistake, love is not gay abandon; it is to be courageous, to take risks and be disciplined.” (Ramya Varma)

FREE DRAW ~ Anyone who leaves a comment on any article from now until June 15th, gets their name put in a draw for a free copy of my book ”Growing Up & Liking It”.  The more comments that you leave the greater your chances of winning. Good Luck!


10 Responses to 'THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Unconditional Love versus Conditional Love ~ June 2, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte'

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  1. Andrea said,

    I would offer my own question, “Do you unconditionally love yourself?”. The answer to this is so important because, you can’t give what you do not hold in your own heart for yourself.

    Great questions!

    • Andrea…you are absolutely right! I think your question coincides with the old adage of “charity begins at home”. Thanks for your input!

  2. chosenwoman said,

    Sis in all honesty I don’t think we do know. The only way we will ever know what it is is by asking God to teach us to have it. Because un-conditionally love is I am with you no matter what, sadly but so true we have been taught that when things become to hard leave throw in the towel. We haven’t been taught to fight for things nor have we been taught to keep at it, see our ability do stay with things is only for a short time of our comfort zone once it goes pass more then we can bare it’s time to let it go, but that is not what Jesus said. We truly must have the Holy Spirit teaching us this but one must also ask for it. Great post

    • Hi Desiray…I agree with you. We do have a tendency to throw in the towel when things get rough. Unconditional love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. God is the One who sest the example and it is not easy to live up to but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is our only hope. Thanks for your input Desiray. I always appreciate what you have to add to my posts. Blessings to you and yours!

  3. Darci said,

    This reminds me of what Jesus tells us in the New Testament…to Love our neighbor’s as ourselves. that wasn’t, love our neighbors only if they give us warm fuzzies or buy us gifts or tell us how wonderful we are…it means LOVE THEM REGARDLESS. Mary Jean said today, that feelings are fickle…they surely are. But, God can help us love those that we don’t want to…and that is where the beauty of his relationship is….When we allow him to love through us, it’s a life changing experience!!!

    • Hi Darci,
      What you have said is so true about loving our neighbors as ourselves. I also believe that God can give us the power to love people we don’t want to love…those who have hurt us or those who have been intentionally unkind or mean towards us. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can rise above their actions and learn to love others whether they give us gifts or that warm fuzzy feeling you mentioned. Mary Jean is right about feelings being fickle. She is a great inspiration to us all. I very much agree with you about allowing God to love through us and what a wonderful life changing experience it is. Thanks so much for visiting my blog site and leaving a comment. Blessings to you!

  4. Carolyn said,

    It’s always hard when tension makes its way into families or between loved ones. The door that is always left open is the easiest to enter and someone has to be the first one to cross the threshold. When both people know the Lord the distance is shorter between the people, but if one of those people is not a believer, then it is up to the Christian to make the first move. We are taught to forgive and that means putting the past behind and letting it stay there. I urge your friend to continue to keep crossing that threshold and pour her love out. One day it may come back to her.

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks so much for sharing your “words of wisdom”. It is very true that when both people know the Lord that the distance is shorter between the two people. I have suggested to my friend the exact same action as you, that of “keep crossing the threshold” even if it appears to be getting nowhere. God works in mysterious ways and in time, if we are open to it, the situation could resolve itself. Family tension may not be easy to overcome but it’s the relationship where we stand to lose the most if we don’t make every effort to keep the door open. Love….and hope. Blessings to you Carolyn.

  5. Great Post Dolores,
    One of the things that struck me when I was reading it was in one of your final statements about the true test comes when we disagree. I may be misunderstanding, but are you talking about the way we ACT when we disagree?
    It reminded me of how I grew up with my mother; to her disagreing with her meant that I did not love her at all. I learned to agree. My husband also had that same false definition of love, and I never never disagreed with him either which led to me losing any sliver of identity that I had left after my escaping my mother.
    For me I had to learn a whole new definition of love ~ a truth based definition of love ~ before I could understand anything close to unconditional love.

    Great post, great food for thought!
    Hugs, Darlene

    • Hey Darlene,
      I am honored to have you visit my blog site and leave such thought-provoking comments. I actually went back and reread some of my post to make sure I could better understand your question and answer it to the best of my ability. I think it is perfectly OK to disagree with someone. There is no way that we can agree with any one person, on every given subject, all of the time. How we “react” when we don’t agree is what I’m referring to. If we behave in a certain way when we are in agreement which probably includes mutual love and respect but we risk the loss of this love and respect by being true to ourselves by having the courage to disagree, then I consider the love offered to be conditional.

      In healthy relationships, we do not have to stifle ourselves and our beliefs to stay in good favor with the people we love. In unhealthy relationships, we may very well be “acting” in order to keep some people in our lives for fear of being rejected by them or losing their love. What I meant in my post is that the true test comes and also shows the strength of our relationship depending on how we react when we disagree. If we feel threatened by the loss of love or rejection, we may resort to putting up a false front to keep the peace. If a disagreement brings about an abusive or negative change in behavior by either party then it is almost impossible to have an honest relationship because it will most likely be confrontational when we don’t agree. To me, this kind of relationship is more based on the fear of the reaction to our disagreeing rather than on the true definition of love. The stronger personality will usually end up having the upper hand and control the other person up to a point. This is not an equal relationship which will eventually result in defiance or rebellion by the person repressing their true feelings.

      I very much agree with you Darlene…to understand anything close to unconditional love, it is very necessary to understand a truth based defintion of love where there are no negative consequences if we don’t agree. It takes a very strong and determined individual to refuse to settle for less. People in equal relationships are usually not threatened by each other. They are equals and they both bring equal attributes, albeit at times different ones, to the table. In healthy relationships, they acknowledge and accept this fact.

      Once again Darlene, I am honored that you stopped by and gave me food for thought. I appreciate it!
      Hugs, Dolores

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