I don’t believe in unconditional love.
I don’t think I ever did.
I grew up Southern Baptist where the term, unconditional love, was bandied about, but they never meant it.
Unconditional love, IF you meet our conditions.
Um? That is the absolute definition of CONDITIONAL love.
Our motto was, “Jesus died, once, for all.”
BUT unless you meet our conditions all does not include you.
If all does not mean ALL, did Jesus die in vain? I asked the preacher after church one Sunday morning.
Shortly after I began asking questions like this I was offered an opportunity to work in the church nursery DURING the Sunday morning service for $$$$! YIPPEE!!!!
Decades later that I realized this golden opportunity kept me from asking the preacher questions about his sermon on Sunday mornings during the exit handshake. (Someone was very clever.)
Do I believe in Jesus? Oh, yes, I do.
Do I believe Jesus died in vain? No, absolutely not.
Do I believe in “once for all?” Yes, she answered hesitantly.
Do I believe all means all? Yeah, I do. And that makes me a bad Christian. I was not very good even before I came to understand that all might actually mean ALL.
Does it piss me off a little bit, all? Well, of course. Some people are horrible and I would like to see them burn in hell for eternity. WOW! Say THAT out loud three times and it will make your toes curl. When I say it out loud, I mean it a lot less.
Apparently what I believe, now, is that no one is too horrible for Jesus. What I really believe is that Jesus can find the image of God in all of humanity. Even the horrible ones. Even, me.
Holding the paradigm of ALL takes more faith than the (un)conditional love I grew up with.
(For the record, I grew up in a decent enough church. FBC San Marcos. Some Sunday School teachers were lacking. Some of our pastors were better than others. There was definitely a “good old boys club” and cliques abounded. (HA! I misspelled clique and it spell check auto-corrected to cliché. There were definitely clichés!) I don’t remember ANTI anyone sermons. Talk about us versus “the other” slated for eternal damnation. Of course, I did spend the last several years of high school working in the church nursery so if things went astray I could have missed it.)
What in the world does this have to do with art?!?
I was getting around to it.
I paint hope. Recently I came to the end of hope for an individual who I attempted I love unconditionally. Those attempts were to the detriment of my emotional, spiritual and physical health. Releasing the illusion of unconditional love was crushing. Immobilizing. I did not paint for five days.
I. Failed. Love.
A love failure.
Surely if I loved enough, loved the right way, just loved unconditionally
everything would be sunshine and roses.
It is not as hard as one might think to blow smoke up one’s own skirt.
My mental wellbeing required that I set down the burden of unconditional love. Sometimes loving from a distance is the best you can do. Sometimes loving from a distance is more than you can do. Sometimes, sometimes, you don’t have to do anything. Not even love. Sometimes being who you are is enough. Sometimes it is all.
We are human. We have victories and failures. If we are fortunate we get back up. Not everyone makes it back to standing. I am back on my feet.
The last several days were difficult. They were also exceedingly enlightening. I know myself better. I am learning to trust myself again. (I sought help quickly.) Clarity is a good thing. Even when what is cleared up is ugly. Truth is tied to freedom in the bible. Truth identifies the enemy within and without.
As I air out my smoky skirt (metaphorical skirt as my only “skirt” is really a pair of billowy pants),and put on my big girl boots and I am getting back to work.
There road is never straight. Detours abound. I was on a detour. I am back onto my path.
May your detours be short and may you find beauty along the way. Thank you and Much love (whatever that looks like) Gwen