One of my friends proposed a good question. He was reading a devotional and pondered: how realistic is unconditional love? The premise for this was because he said if he were to marry one day, he would want to give and receive this. However, people many contingencies on their relationships and the love does become circumstantial—or conditional.
Unconditional love is something to continue to strive for. It’s attainable perfection because we have given and received it. This is one of the easiest-yet the hardest-forms of perfection to obtain. It is difficult to do so because doing so leaves us so exposed to being hurt or betrayed.
My boy doesn’t have any children, so the first thing that I could think of as a response was “Think about how your parents love you.” For the most part, our parents love us in such a manner. Growing up, all we could do is take from them, yet they always had more to give. The amount of sacrifice and discipline that comes along with providing for us is otherworldly. We have disappointed and broken our parents’ hearts many times; but it’s instinct to continue to love us in an active capacity as if we have never done wrong.
Within those first formidable five years all children do is absorb everything round them and spit the behavior back out…with their own little twists on them that ultimately create their personality. So we observe unconditional love from our primary caregivers. I think this is the reason that children show no love with a lack of filter. All they know is giving this kind of love because life and rejection haven’t tainted their worldview yet. Our parents shame us, embarrass us in stores, fuss at us, tell us no, and hurt our feelings a lot; but it never changed how we loved them. There’s an inherent sacrifice of one’s feelings because all we can do to repay our parents is show them love.
I have heard repeatedly “You don’t know what real love is until you become a parent.” For the most part, I disagree. As a father, I do understand my parents better. I do think that it has helped me tap into another register of patience and sacrifice having to take care of my daughter. However, my daughter was conceived in love. Sure there are one night stands, accidents, and so on that result in procreation. Caring for my little girl in the manner that I do is because I have built upon what I did for her mother. Hell, the vows one takes while getting married are basically saying “I will love this person unconditionally for life.” While sh*t happens, typically the goal is to marry before having children. So even then the goal is to make the choice to love someone unconditionally before we “know what real love is” via creating life.
So why is it innate to do so for our children than it is for others? Frankly it’s phobia. We know that no matter what they aren’t going anywhere. A significant other can break up with us and a marriage can end in divorce. There’s a chance of no return on the investment so we don’t want to give that all to someone. Loving anyone means you’re going to get hurt. I can’t think of one person who I have ever said or thought that I have loved who hasn’t. Hell, my four year old has hurt my feelings. It’s continuing to do so after. Sometimes this means ending things and loving people from afar. I also can’t think of anyone who I have ever loved-even if I never wanted to speak to them again-that there isn’t a small part of me that doesn’t still care. Why? Because all love is unconditional. Think about it, even hate is something or someone you admire or love and it follows the same pattern.
I think we maintain unconditional love for those we feel obligated to take care of. I feel it is my duty to hold my friends accountable so no matter how much they suck I try to be the iron to sharpen their iron. My parents are getting older; so one day they will need me because they won’t be able to do for themselves like they could when they were my age. Until my daughter can fend for herself and learn to find someone equally yoked to spend her life with I must be the first line of defense as well as her example. I’m single, so whatever woman I have tricked into courted as my partner in crime for life and love my daughter as her own I’d give the world to. So maybe that’s it.