I stood outside the door as I often did – trying to prepare myself for what was to occur. I pondered, “Had I made a mistake, was I wrong to come yet again?” I could hear the voices of so many, “Why do you go, she doesn’t want you?” “Why do you put yourself through such pain?” “Let her long for you.” or “Tough love is what she needs not unconditional love.” Their words left me wondering, was this too painful for me to endure? Was it even helpful to show up?
Was unconditional love even possible?
I felt like a fool coming back time after time. Who wants to be where one is not wanted?
I hesitated for a second and then remembered God had entrusted this child to me and this was not the time to give up.
I rang the buzzer to be let in, and I waited. I had come to appreciate the locked door, and the time it took for someone to be summoned to unlock it. It gave me a few minutes to gather my thoughts and cry out to God one last time before entering.
Please fill me today from head to toes with your love, your strength, your words, and your touch. Please give me deaf ears to the insults and meanness that will come today. Let me see her pain, her illness not her words or behavior. Give me the ability to love her like you would because I don’t have it on my own. Let me be the vessel where your love flows through to reach her.
God, give me the strength and ability to love this child like you would. I want to – I just do not know if I am capable. Help me reach my child, so she knows she is not alone, we will not give up on her, and she is deeply loved.
I always thought a mother naturally had unconditional love for her child. She takes that new baby in her arms and is filled with a love that is unimaginable. It sure felt like love with no conditions a love that would never give up, and one that would come easy.
In my many visits, I saw other parent’s give up. The strange thing was, I understood. I no longer faulted them nor judged them.
Unconditional love is hard! It is a choice that must be made over and over again. It isn’t easy to buck up when you see no glimpse of hope, no reassurance, no accolades, no reciprocation.
I found unconditional love only possible with God.
Loving in this way took a strength I did not possess on my own.
As I visited this treatment center, week after week, month after month I received no confirmation that I was loved back. I began to understand the mystery of unconditional love. I began to be in awe of God and how he loves each and everyone one of us.
God absolutely loves us just as we are.
I can tell you it wasn’t me that showed up each time in my strength it was God. I was utterly incapable of loving another person with this kind of love. When someone strikes out at us, our instinct is to strike back or withdraw. Instead most of the time I was filled with a desire to reach for this kind of love, learn all I could to help, and see the illness for what it was. Unfortunately, I failed many times.
You will fail at loving unconditionally but rest assured God won’t.
Of course, there are moments when the well runs dry. Those times, when our words or actions come out harsh or defensive. A time when you know you have shown your humanness and let yourself get in the way.
On those particular nights, I close my eyes for bed and remember these verses –
“Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
I do not think pure unconditional love is humanly possible. It just isn’t natural. As humans, we put so many conditions, judgments, and expectations on our love for others.
However, we can get closer to this kind of love by consciously choosing to love others in this manner. We can strive to attain it and the closer we get the purer our love will become. Be thankful if God has trusted you to love someone with unconditional love. It is an experience that will be both painful and so rewarding. You will find the true meaning of love, and it will change you forever.
After a year, the magical happened – the words I had longed to hear were spoken, “I love you, Mom.” Words that took on a new meaning and made every effort taken well worth it.
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Do you think unconditional love is possible? How have you experienced it?
Be sure to read next weeks post, “10 Steps To Loving Unconditionally.”