“I can only Love. That is all I can do. That is all I can be because that is what I am. I AM Love. I am what encompasses you; moves through you and allows you to be everything and experience everything that makes you who and what you are; everything. No exceptions. It’s all here; all a part of the totality that makes up existence; that makes up life. It all exists inside of Love. And all of Love exists inside of Me.”
Does that sound like something out of a new age self-help book? Does that sound like some sort of sentimental clap-trap? Perhaps it does, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Before you throw up your hands in frustration and decide that I have indeed gone over to the dark side, let me get one thing straight here. I’m not talking about generalized love; you know the kind of love that a person refers to when they are talking about “loving” a certain kind of soda or brand of clothes or sports team. That is such a watered down and punk-ass version of the real thing that it really doesn’t deserve to have the same word applied to it. Come to think of it, we do use that word an awfully lot, don’t we?
Forget just the generalized over-use of the word “love” in general conversation. There are so many other uses for the word that it is no wonder that sometimes it feels as if it has been spread way too thin.
We use the word “love” not just to express intense like in an object or for an experience, we also use the word as a way to describe everything from intense romantic desire (falling in love) to the sexual act (making love) to the intensely deep and protective feelings for a child (paternal love) the abiding camaraderie of friends (platonic love) and even the all-encompassing acceptance/salvation/forgiveness attributed to God in whatever way you define him (divine love).
And any way we slice it, the word “love” has come to be associated with certain expectations. Think about it. When we talk about “loving” a product or an experience, that ‘love’ depends on the product or experience continuing to produce the same feelings in us as it always has or by producing the same result that we find so awesome.
When we talk about romantic love, falling in love or making love we assume that the other person in the scenario is going to return our feelings or that we are at least going to get some sort of physical satisfaction out of it. The same concept holds true for parental love, filial love, the love of friends and any other sort of love that you want to define. There is always some sort of expectation; always something that you get in return. Even divine love has its expectations.
Yes, in spite of those who claim that “God is love” and that is his love is unconditional, there is still the problem of why it is that the rewards of his love (eternal life) are dependent on the one receiving his love accepting and returning it or showing their appreciation for it in an appropriate manner, otherwise you don’t benefit from the love (at least not in the long term). I hate to say it, but that is not unconditional love.
True unconditional love knows no limitations and has no expectations. It not only loves everyone unconditionally, it also bestows the benefits of that love on everyone regardless of whether that love is appreciated, returned or even acknowledged – ever.
There is no differentiating those who accept the love from those who do not. There are no special rewards for those who acknowledge or return the love as opposed to those who do not. One simply LOVES. Not because there is anything in it for you, not because you are obsessed with the people or things that you love, but because you have no other choice. It is simply who and what you are. It is what you do. You get to the point where you cannot NOT love even if the people do not appreciate, return or even acknowledge the love that you give them.
It may seem as if it happened over night. In fact, you may wake up one morning with this love in your heart and wonder how the devil it happened. But chances are if you look back at your life, you’ll be able to see its progression; how opening and re-opening yourself up to love (in spite of the pain of rejection), how focusing on the positive even when it seemed that the negativity was suffocating, how reminding yourself over and over again not to become attached to people and outcomes all paid off.
But let me tell you something; in spite of the fact that when you get to this point; when you find that you cannot NOT love the people around you (regardless of how stupid they behave or even if they ignore you completely); that you want the best for everyone (even those who have hurt you), it can almost be lonelier than it was when you could compartmentalize; when you could put people into categories of those you loved, tolerated, ignored or hated. Because in order to love at this level; in order to love at all, you have to open yourself up to that love; including being loved (or not) in return, even if the amount of love you receive is not equal to that which you are giving out. And there WILL be those who love you in return, even if it is not with an unconditional love. On some levels, that can be the scariest thing of all.
Why? Because when a person returns your love; when they acknowledge the unconditional love that you are sending them and reflect it back to you, it can be so delicious that it can be addictive. And you will be tempted to become attached to what it is that they are offering; to feel as if they are supplying you with that love when in truth it is only a reflection of what is there in your own heart. If you can remember that; that there is nothing they are giving you that you do not have access to yourself, then you will be okay even if they decide for whatever reason that they no longer love you. If you can’t remember that, you are opening yourself up to a world full of hurt as you slip back into the addictive and painful world of love that is wrapped up in attachment and expectation.
But if you can resist the urge of attachment; of looking to one person or experience that you crave; you will have found that in every person; even those who do not acknowledge or return the love that you give out without question; that there is a reflection of the love that you give out without prompting; a love that is then reflected back to yourself threefold enabling you to become even more than you already were.
Indeed, loving unconditionally will not only be your biggest challenge, but its own tremendous reward. And even though this may not make complete and total sense to you now, it will. Oh yes, in time it will.
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