Is Unconditional Love Even Possible?

February 23, 2017

I stood outside the door as I often did –  trying to prepare myself for what was to occur. Pondering, “Had I made a mistake, was I wrong to come yet again?” The voices of so many ringing in my ears, “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?

Feeling like a fool for coming back time after time – Who wants to be where one is not wanted?

Hesitating for a second and then I  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.

Lord,

 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.  

 Amen

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.”

Lamentations 3:21-23

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.”

36 Comments

  1. Reply

    lauradavis2013

    Maree, thank you so much for this post. You give me hope.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Laura – I am so glad my post could give you hope. We all need that. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Maree

  2. Reply

    Gayle

    Hi Mauri,
    I just read this today and sobbed as I did. Your words expressed so perfectly EVERYTHING I feel as a mom and how I desperately lean on God. Thank you for all that you do and for sharing — you help me more than words can ever express, as we find our way through this foggy journey. I miss seeing you in our class.
    With my warmest love, Gayle (and Michel 🙂

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Gayle and Michel, Thank you so much for your supportive words. To know that what I share, teach, or speak on helps in some small way means the world to me. We are on a foggy journey, but it is so nice to be on it with people like the two of you. I miss seeing you too in class. Hope you will join Circles of Hope some time. I will be speaking in April. Maree

  3. Reply

    Sheila Qualls

    I always say I love unconditionally, but I don’t know if it is humanly possible. I had an incident with one of my children, who did something dishonest. I did not feel the same way about him during that time. It really made me question my feelings for him. I do love him and never stopped loving him, but my acceptance and tolerance of him were diminished. Is that unconditional love?

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Sheila – I agree I do not think it is humanly possible to love all of the time unconditionally. It is a tricky thing. I can’t say whether you had unconditional love or not only you and God can figure that one out. However, I do believe two things can be true at the same time, and they do not cancel each other out. We can love, and we can still be disappointed or not like what our loved one has done. Acceptance does not mean we like what another person has done, but we accept the person right where they are with all of their blemishes. Just the way God does with us.

      I too have been in that place with dishonesty from another. It does damage the relationship and make unconditional love very challenging. If we are called to love others in this way, we must push through it. I wish I could say I have it mastered but I realize I have a ton of work to do in this area. Loving others with God’s kind of love is hard. Maree

  4. Reply

    sarahgirl3

    We have a bad situation with my brother. I kept being the one he would reach out to, only to have him take his anger out on me. We saw him a few months ago after 4 years or so. Love is hard, but worth it.
    I am so happy you got your “I love you!”

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Sarah – Thank you, I was happy too when I got it, and every time I hear it. I am so glad you did not give up on your brother. I love hearing stories of how people do not give up on loving others. So true, “love is hard but worth it.” Maree

  5. Reply

    Lesley

    Thanks for sharing this, Maree. I’m sorry you have been through something so difficult but I love your testimony of God strengthening you and helping you to love. I agree, it’s only possible in God’s strength. Your post encourages me as I have a friend who struggles with mental health issues and it can be very hard to keep loving at times even though I know the way she behaves is mainly due to her illness. I agree, it’s only possible in God’s strength.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Lesley, Yes, it can be hard at times to love those with a mental illness, please do not give up. The rewards are immense. My loved ones are my hero’s. It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to be a part of their journey. You will be blessed right alongside your friends for choosing to love unconditionally.

      The truth be told we are all a little difficult at times to love.

      I am so glad you stopped by and took the time to leave a comment.
      Maree

  6. Reply

    BettieG

    I agree with you that it is impossible to love unconditionally without God’s love. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ “TILL WE HAVE FACES,” as part of online book study, and have felt so much conviction as it has caused me to examine my own motives for loving. It’s so easy to place my own preferences and judgements onto my ways of loving without even realizing it. But I am so grateful that Jesus does come to dwell within us, and gives us His heart of loving as we open our hearts to Him. I am blessed to be your neighbor over at #TellHisStory this week.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Bettie – Thank you for sharing the book you are reading by C.S. Lewis. I just took a peek at it online, and it looks very good. I couldn’t agree with you more about what you said, “how we place our own preferences and judgments onto the ways we love without even realizing it.” I know I need to work on making sure I tap into God when loving others and do it his way. Thank you for stopping by neighbor. Maree

  7. Reply

    jenn56093

    Your story also show bravery! Which is also something God gives us. Such hope and goodness in this story. Thanks for sharing it reminds me I can also overcome through God and deal with those that are unlovable through Christ!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Yes, with God we an all overcome. Amen

  8. Reply

    SunSparkleShine

    Maree, I wonder the same thing myself and I’ve come to realise that on my own, I don’t love well at all. It’s only through God working in me that I’m able to love others deeply. As for unconditional love, wow, what an upward calling — one that I want to reach.
    I pray you will find the strength through God to love, and love, and love some more. It sounds like a lonely road but my hope is that you will find strength for the journey.
    Blessings!
    Marva | SunSparkleShine

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Marva, It was great seeing your comment. I love the “upward calling” statement. Thank you for your prayers, I appreciated them. Yes, the road can be lonely, at times when I fail to reach out. The truth is – I have been so blessed by a community of supporters. Maree

  9. Reply

    speakthewords

    Hello Maree,
    I was especially touched by this post. This was beautiful. Yes, we do often hold so many expectations in our relationships. Thank you for that perspective; it is not possible for us to love unconditionally on our own. I have tried many times and failed. We have to keep constantly drawing strength from the Source of Life, in order to manifest a love like this. Wow, so powerful. Hope you are blessed. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      I am so glad my post touched you. So true how the expectations get in the way. Even after writing a post about it I have had a few days of failing at loving unconditionally. I am sure I have been trying on my own instead of tapping into God’s strength and power. The good news is I have a second chance. Thank you for reminding me to draw from our source of life. Maree

  10. Reply

    Crystal Twaddell

    I’ve often wondered the answer to this question. I’m grateful we can learn to make strides in this area from the One who never fails to love us so perfectly.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Crystal, I too am so grateful we can learn from God. I find myself going back to “What would Jesus do.” I know that is an old statement that used to teach my children but I still use it. Thank you for adding your wisdom to the comments. Maree

  11. Reply

    Janis Cox

    Beautiful touching post. Following you from Laura Davis.
    I love the quote: Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe
    Just drew a picture of Uncle Tom’s cabin. Thinking of those abused. #humandignity #humantrafficking.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Janis, Thank you for stopping by and leaving such an encouraging comment. I too love that quote. I have seen many a tide turn when it seemed hopeless. Blessing to you, Maree

  12. Reply

    Deb Wolf

    Maree, Thank you for this. Our daughter rejected us 12 years ago. We will never stop loving her. Every day, like the prodigal father, I’m watching and waiting confident God is at work. Thanks for your encouragement. God’s blessings!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Deb, My heart hurts for you for the rejection with your daughter. I am sending prayers up right now. I am so glad you will never stop loving her. I have no doubt God is at work. I have seen him move in relationships that had little hope. Maree

  13. Reply

    Dawn Boyer

    These words were exactly what my heart needed to hear. I needed to hear about real people loving God and still living for Him even when things don’t look beautiful or lovely. My prayers recently were, ” I write about grace, hope and love, and faithfulness…and I believe EVERY one of them. Even when it doesn’t look like you are working on the outside, you give me glimpses…” That is where I want to start today’ s prayer,looking at the glimpses that He has provided as a ray of hope shining into His faithfulness. Thank you for this transparency. My momma heart needed this grace seed.
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Dawn, I am so glad my words spoke to your heart. I am with you I love it when God gives us glimpses that he is working. Maree

  14. Reply

    Pam Lawson

    Thank you. ❤🙏🏻
    I needed this.
    Pam

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Pam – I am so glad it was just what you needed. Thank you for letting me know. Maree

  15. Reply

    Brenda

    Wow, Maree. ((Hug)) Thank you for vulnerably sharing this testimony. Thankful the Lord restored your and your daughter’s relationship. Isn’t it such a hard thing when our children struggle? The other day, my husband and I were talking about one of our adult sons about how — the times when they’re the hardest to deal with are the times when they need us the most. So, we hang in. 🙂 Beautiful testimony of hope, restoration and grace. Thank you for sharing with #ChasingCommunity today. 🙂 ((hug))

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Brenda – What you said is so true about when they are struggling they need us the most. I had a great support system to help me hang in there. Thank you for hosting #chasingcommunity. Maree

  16. Reply

    Janet

    Maree I have felt this pain and sometimes still do. Keep persevering. God is in control. That is what I hold onto daily. You are a good mom and God will give you the strength to keep visiting. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Janet, Thank you for sharing your pain too. We have to stick together and persevere. You are so right God is in control. God was good he helped me to persevere. I am happy to say those visits are something of the past. We are in a much better place now. Thank you for visiting and interacting with the post. I love hearing from you. Maree

  17. Reply

    Debbie

    This was powerful and poignant! Thank you for sharing the real raw truth of your experiences.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Debbie – Thank you for visiting the blog and commenting. I love it when you do. Thank you also for being there to help me persevere. I could not have done it without you. Maree

  18. Reply

    sherrylynnstahl

    My daughter went through years of depression. It was years of unconditional love. Heartbreaking and tiresome when the years past and I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, but I kept loving. She finally was put on the right medication and then things began to change. She got her life right with God and things began to change at an accelerated pace. She is now doing so well. She’s in university and thriving. God is doing miraculous things in and through her. NEVER give up hope!
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Sherryl – Thank you for sharing. It is always good to hear when others share about their experience. It gives us all hope. I am so glad your daughter is doing so well and making progress at an accelerated pace. Our pace may not be as fast, but I am over the moon with the progress my loved ones have made. Maree

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