About this whole ‘unconditional love’ thing

Image: Jez Timms

The phrase unconditional love is an overused, often misunderstood one that many of us find fuzzy at best.

No, I haven’t gone door to door or done any surveys. I just know that it’s never quite made sense to me and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve heard the phrase time and time again, but it’s never really clicked.

When Rory was born, I thought it would click. I thought I’d finally understand what unconditional love meant.

But I soon realized that this may not be true.

Why? Why was this simple concept so hard to understand?

I now see that I was looking at the definition of love the wrong way.

The problem was, I long held the subconscious belief (I know it was subconscious because, if I would have dug this belief up and exposed it to the light of my conscious awareness, I’d have dispelled it) that love meant never getting mad at someone.

So, we had our daughter, and in true fashion, I’d eventually get mad at her.

I knew I loved her, but this subconscious belief made me think that maybe it wasn’t unconditional. Because if it was, I’d never get angry with her. Right?

But just the other day, it clicked. Consciously. I finally got it. (Yes, I’m quite slow…)

It hit me that Rory could stoop to the lowest of the lows in life. She could steal from me, try to beat me up (though I’d totally take her in a wrestling match), lie to me, steal from me — whatever — and as angry as I’d get at her (and I WOULD get angry, for sure), I’d still love her as much as I did on the first day that I looked in her eyes and saw God staring back at me.

In true guru fashion, my daughter taught me this (hey, ADD moment here, but is the word taught in daughter — almost)…

Unconditional love doesn’t mean not getting angry at someone. In fact, getting angry at them is often a sign of a love that runs deep.

The love is the basis of it all. If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t care what she did. I wouldn’t be effected by her decisions or actions because I’d not be emotionally invested in them.

But I am. And my love for her is infinite. 
I’d even say it’s unconditional.

Damn… She painted on the wall again.


Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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