“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” -Fred Rogers
Have you ever fallen in love with a newborn baby? Even if it’s not your child, you fill with awe. This new life in this helpless body has done nothing at all except be born, yet the love you feel has no end. This baby doesn’t have to buy you a birthday card or compliment your hair; it doesn’t have earn a certain income or agree with you. This baby will one day annoy you, upset you – it may even join a different political party than yours – yet you will still love him or her, simply because they exist. This love is unconditional.
But your lover – that’s different. He really pisses you off (and sometimes on purpose). And your mom nags non-stop; she just can’t respect your boundaries. And your friend who said that thing about you – you’re done with her. You can’t even. How dare these people hurt you. You loved them and look at what they put you through!
“Love is unconditional or it is not love. It is not a pretty thing. It is a life-altering storm.” – Waylon Lewis
Similar to that newborn, the people you love will try your patience and test your resiliency. You may lose sleep and feel all sorts of complex emotions and you may even want to quit this whole thing. Yet because you love them, actively, you return again and again to that sacred moment of holding the newborn baby, back to the miracle of existence. You practice accepting them despite of this thing that you want to change and that incident that was so upsetting. Just existing is enough, really.
When you actively love, there are no requirements: they don’t need to remember your favorite flower, complete a goal you set for them, or stop snoring. They can just be. And you can just BE, too; you are also the newborn baby, loved simply for existing.
Take a few moments to think of someone who is challenging to love unconditionally, perhaps yourself. Using a baby picture or your imagination, see them as a newborn, so small and delicate. Set your cellphone timer for 5 to 10 minutes, and close your eyes. Recall the baby’s face, feel the weight in your arms, remember the new baby smell. In this moment, allow yourself to fill with love for no other reason than that this person exists. They exist. You exist. And that is enough.
For more insights on unconditional love, read: “The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship: A Toltec Wisdom Book” by Don Miguel Ruiz.