Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Unconditional Love

Author Donald Miller

I mean, if a kid doesn’t feel he is loved, he is going to go looking for it in all kinds of ways. He is going to want to feel powerful or important or tough, and she is going to want to feel beautiful and wanted and needed. Give a kid the feeling of being loved early, and they will be better at negotiating that other stuff when they get older. They won’t fall for anything stupid, and they won’t feel a kind of desperation all the time in their souls. It is not coincidence that Jesus talks endlessly about love. Free love. Unconditional love.


My reaction:

Just before the start of a new calendar year, I like to reflect on everything I've been through since 1979. The idea of feeling loved has so many different levels involved. As a child, every concept of love comes from parents. Initially we demand they provide us the necessities of life through shrieks of hysteria until we are satisfied. Content with this, babies will use the same tactics to have the visual cue of a parent's face. Babies aren't aware that the parent is nearby, they only know the parent is there if they can see them. When cognisant that parents may be in the room, or in the house, without being able to see them, the cries then turn to being held and adored. Clearly, humans are wired to crave affection and love. In the grade school years, children need to know they are valued. Little boys mimic their fathers as they learn manhood, and seek to protect and delight mothers. Little girls emulate their mothers, and seek love and affection from their fathers. Is it any wonder I was a daddy's girl?

As we enter the pre-teen and teenage years, we start to sever ties with the parents - pushing them away because we count them as irrelevant and unable to provide the love we desire. Looking to the acceptance of our peers, we will do whatever we must to be valued by another. Taking part in the measurements of social acceptance, we may neglect the love of parents, disregard the ways that we were raised, and disguise all our behavior to the best of our ability. I did.

Progressing on to the phases of life that cause us to crave a relationship that provides the love we desperately want, we create trust. We place expectations on the one we desire to fulfill all our needs. Often, this is merely tainted love ("ooooh tainted love"). Placing our trust and expectations in another are usually self-seeking. To know we are loved is our goal, rather than to make them feel loved. Being satisfied with their presence, or any other actions we may find ourselves in, is our weakness. Pleasantries are displayed and we may actually want to please them, but in the end the root is that we want them to be happy so they can make us happy.

As a teenager, as a college student, I sought relationships to give me the sense that I am loved. I struggle still with feeling neglected, overlooked, unwanted, not desired, and forgotten. When I chose to take on Christian beliefs in ninth grade, my father counted it as a sign of weakness and foolishness. That relationship severed, and still immature in my faith, I sought a boyfriend that would provide my sense of worth. Continually I must remind myself that my worth cannot be found in others, they have all failed.

Our tainted ideas of love may stem from life as a newborn. Self-seeking motivations will fail us. Hopelessly caught up in the romantic ideas of love are not the satisfaction we crave. Real love is far different than we have ever made it out. Pure, genuine love is where my sense of worth emminates from. Read the fine print if you want, or take the summary provided:

1 John 4:7-21 - God is love - everything about Him comes from the reason of love.
John 3:16 - God loved me or you or the rest of the world enough to send the most valuable part to endure a treacherous life of wooing the bride and cofounding the wise, only to suffer the ultimate rejection and endure hell - all this just to win me back.
Matthew 5:43-48 - We cannot be selective about who we love - we are to love everyone - including those we hate or who hate us. There are different types of love, which is a study for another time. But in the end, we are to love all.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Real love looks like this.

All that being said, Jesus is after a relationship, He loves me more than I can imagine, and nothing else will really satisfy. As I have been given this love, I cannot contain it for my own purposes... freely give, freely receive. Know you are loved.

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