Are you, like me, the sort of person who is sensitive to what others think or feel toward you? Sensitivity to others is a gift, so long as what they think doesn't impact your own sense of self worth. While it is valuable to be aware of others' attitudes, if our identity comes from what others think of us rather than what we know of ourselves, our own self-image can be quite shaken or damaged by another's disapproval.
Children love to please. And if they are pleasing to a parent, they will learn to feel good about themselves. The only problem with this is, what if they are not pleasing to a parent (or later to a teacher, relative, or friend)? From the very beginning of our lives, if we know we are loved "no matter what," we will begin to build a self image that is confident and secure. Knowing we are loved unconditionally, rather than based on our behaviour, success, or appearance, is at the root of our emotional security.
Learning to love unconditionally is a start to learning to receive unconditional love... Or is it the other way around?
I don't believe, personally, that there is anyone on planet earth today who is perfect. Lots of people are very nice, kind or at least well-intended. There are a lot of very smart people and very creative ones too - Leonardo da Vinci happened to be both! And a lot of people try very hard to make their mark in the world. For some, that's raising children, for others it means inventing something or making a lot of money. But what we do doesn't make us who we are.
When we are content with who we are, then we have peace of mind - in spite of circumstances around us.
Who of us doesn't want to be loved, not for what we do or achieve, but for who we are inside? Because deep down, we all must know that, if the money or fame or success goes away, will there be anyone cheering us on anyway, loving us and supporting us, regardless of our situation?
Security is knowing I am loved, unconditionally, for who I am. Security is accepting myself as I am, and aiming to be consistent, integral to who I am, even if someone else might disapprove. It isn't licence to be anything but the best we can be at patience, love, kindness, gentleness, self-control. But it isn't reprimand or shame when we aren't as good as we (or someone else) expect ourselves to be.
If you're familiar with the film, LOVE STORY you'll remember the classic line, 'Love means never having to say you're sorry.' Or if you've read enough PEANUTS cartoons you'll recall Lucy's "Psychologist is In" sign or Snoopy's placard that begins with: "Love Is..." We all have a take on what love is.
I think, "Love is... Unconditional". Real love doesn't stop if we don't achieve or fulfill expectations or behave perfectly. Real love is hard to find - and hard to practice. There are some relationships where love never fails, never gives up, wants only what's best for us. And when we have a taste of a relationship like that, we feel, believe and know we are loved. There is where our security truly lies.
We can find that sort of love in ourselves, in God, in parents, in partners, in friends.
To the extent I have experienced unconditional love, I've felt safe, secure, relieved. To the extent I've felt judged, even condemned, I've had to draw on the resource of unconditional love to help me through loneliness, disappointment, or self-berating. I've learned to recognize another's approval or their disapproval and not let it shake my self-concept as a person who is doing her best, always seeking to grow, love and learn more about life, joy and peace.
Although I've felt love and the pain of rejection, although I've fallen and picked myself up, my consistent resource for unconditional love is God, and He's never let me down.
Food for thought, 'til next time...
Love and God bless to you this week. See you next Thursday... AND:
END NOTE: For those who haven't known me for long, and perhaps for some who have: You might enjoy my other blog:
Life from the Lighthouse -- all about what God shows me when He talks to me and I listen. New posts monthly on the 1st.
My website for the Self Publishing House is www.LarusPress.com where I blog on wholeness, witness, the Word of God and worship & warfare. Larus Press offers Christian-based books, blogs and literature to inspire, encourage, equip and empower your living spirit.
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