Love… I mean real unconditional love. It was the topic of last week’s Mass at my church. Now, before you roll your eyes and click off, I am not here to spread my religion… nor do I believe there is only one spiritual path, and everyone is allowed to choose their own. The one thing that I do know is that any, and all spiritual awakenings begin and end with love. This does not mean romantic love, though it seems lately that’s the only kind people are actually interested. I mean true unconditional love.
Five years ago I became a mother. I thought I knew what love was before that. I had no idea. I had been in many relationships, some good some bad. I had one divorce behind me and another relationship that was headed for disaster. I had no idea how to love any of those men, but my son. That was easy. Loving my son was like breathing. I did it before I even met him. I loved him the second I saw that second line on the little stick telling me he existed. Though I didn’t even know that he was a he.
Two years and one month after my son was born my father died. That was my second lesson in love. True, unconditional love. The kind of love that… well, never dies. I was lucky. Growing up I knew that my father loved me. There was never any doubt. He said it and showed it everyday. Now, that didn’t mean he didn’t punish me when I acted up, or that he didn’t put me in my place when I needed, but he never made me doubt myself or him. My father was the one person I truly knew would always be there for me. He may have laughed at me when I did stupid things, and he may have wished me to make better choices at times, but he never once gave up on me, or made me feel like I was anything but capable and my life was full of possibilities.
I remember thinking a lot about family after that. I remember thinking about my past relationships and how or why they failed. I remember feeling like family was everything, and that the reason it is so is because we never give up on each other, and we never judge each other.
I have a brother. He and I couldn’t be more different if we were hatched from eggs on different sides of the planet. We like different music. We are on opposite sides of everything political. He thinks any kind of self help or therapy is a waste of time and feelings are for suckers. To him money and power are first and foremost… yet… When I needed his help; he was there. When I told him my plans for my business, he said, “I think you’ll be good at that”. He doesn’t have to agree with me or my beliefs to love me. Nor I his.
Last week in Mass, Father…. which ever one… talked about unconditional love in terms of Jesus.. and I get that, it’s kind of his thing, but he brought it around to the rest of us. He talked about how it’s the thing that is missing in the world today. We don’t like people who don’t look like us. Why should we help people who don’t live by us? If someone somewhere on the internet does something differently than we do… especially in parenting.. we basically commit a public stoning in the comments section.
We have forgotten to love. We have forgotten to love thy neighbor, where ever they may live. We have forgotten to love and respect our parents, and instead throw them in home when they become a burden. Most importantly, we have forgotten to show unconditional love to the person who matters the most. Ourselves. We bash ourselves. We poke fun at ourselves. We hate ourselves on a regular basis.
The words and phrases I mentioned above come from a particular text that you may or may not believe in, but that doesn’t lessen what they say. If I said that Jesus was not the son of God, but was the Tony Robbins of his day, just trying to help people be the best versions of them-self would that make a difference in your interpretations of those phrases? Does it matter who gives the advice if it’s the right advice? Does it matter how the words got corrupted if the source was genuine?
Nike’s tagline is “Just do it”. It’s simple yet elegant. It’s about getting out and being.. being active, being you.. just do it… They don’t even pretend to tell you what “it” is. They leave it to you to figure out for yourself. It is amazing advice. Yet, if some executive came out and said the “it” in “just do it” was “buy the shoes”. Just buy the shoes! Does that lessen the expression or the original intent? Nike originally paid a graphic designer just $35 for their trademark swoosh. They have since made billions of dollars and it’s one of the most recognizable logos of our time, does that change it’s worth. Does it change your opinion on the phrase, “just do it”? What if your knew that that slogan came from one of the founders of an ad agencies last words (I just Googled it.. maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not) does it matter?
If you believe that love, specifically unconditional love, is important. If you believe that you deserve that love; that everyone deserves that love… why does it matter who said it? Why does it matter where the message came from? And… what’s stopping you?