Monday, July 17, 2006


The research for my book turned up a book by a man named Tony Milton, who wrote:

Unconditional love has no goal in view. It simply is. It is the love that made us. I believe that this is the root of humankind’s restlessness, that we are looking for unconditional love and do not realize that it is already within us. So we fantasize and when we hear about unconditional love, we think we must emulate God and extend it to everybody immediately.

Then, of course, we flunk and feel a failure. Unconditional love is a universal
principle, but it is also a learning experience. If we take the conscious decision to choose love as our spiritual practice, our personality blooms and flourishes. We grow.

Unconditional love does not say “I love everyone equally,” but rather “I love everyone appropriately and in response to their uniqueness.” And, very importantly, unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of behaviors.

Both unconditional love and boundaries have been on my mind lately both for the book and for my life, the boundaries between which are being slowly wittled away. Milton's words summed up a lot of what I've been thinking.

I've definitely made the mistake of trying to extend unconditional love to everyone, everywhere, every time. I ended up tired, used and confused. I don't have God's endless capacity for love and unfailing wisdom for how to use it. Like Milton said, unconditional love is a learning experience.

A huge part of my problem was that I didn't understand the boundaries piece of the equation. It took a while to learn that I could love and say "no" at the same time. What a concept!

I learned that I could be all things to all people and still have a clearly defined identity. I didn't have to be like a Ken doll, a different outfit and personality for every person and experience. When God sent me, he sent Me, and he meant Me. I didn't have to become something different to pull off whatever task I was there for. I just had to rely on him and the gifts he put inside of me.

He also showed me that loving my neighbor as myself, meant giving them what they need not what I think they need or what I'd need if I were them. Every person, apparently, is just as complex and layered and unique as I am. So, packaging up a one size fits all relationship and sharing it with everyone is dangerous to me and devaluing to them. I've got to draw up my boundaries for each relationship based on the reality of who I'm in relationship with.

These are all lessons I'm still learning and relearning. Luckily, God does love me unconditionally and is constantly forgiving me and welcoming me back to the drawing board.


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