Love is (hardly) unconditional

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This week I’ve noticed myself getting annoyed with my daughter — I mean, really annoyed. Why?

Because she doesn’t do what I want her to do. She doesn’t talk to people, she barely talks to me. She doesn’t make eye contact. She is moody. She doesn’t hug. She doesn’t say, “I love you,” — except for the one time. She, quite frankly, challenges me.

I keep getting this phrase in my head, “Love is NOT conditional.” Over and over. And, it won’t leave. Right.  And as seen in the list above, I’m seriously conditional! But, I so don’t want want to be judgmental or conditional.  I hate it.  I feel stuck with my awful feelings.

But, today in church, things became clear.  The pastor spoke about seeing others through Jesus’ eyes, not our own.  We see the outside.  Jesus sees the heart.

Suddenly, it clicked.  I could apply this to my daughter and get unstuck.

I saw her behavior.  The outside.  (And got irritated.)  Did I notice her inside?  Her heart, her fears,  her introversion?  Well, that’s a no brainer.  No, I did not.

Wow.

I don’t normally blog about my faith but in this case, it’s relevant to how I can better love my innie daughter.

My life hasn’t changed in an instant but my vista is different.  Rather than a sky filled with menacing clouds, raining on another turbulent day, I choose to see beautiful shapes, shades of gray, smell of fresh rain, and glimpses of light.

I pray that with my new vision, my eyes can see the beauty in my daughter’s spirit and my love pours forth, unconditional and with abundance.  I will love her because of who she is, not what she does.  I don’t want  poor vision anymore.

I want God’s glasses.

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7 Comments on “Love is (hardly) unconditional”


  1. What a great post! I feel like this can apply to almost any parent at some point in time. It has always been interesting to me that being a parent is sometimes so rewarding and other times so depleting.

    As a parent of a VERY social/vocal 7-year-old, when something is not right, the whole world knows about it and we deal with it swiftly and openly. And I get hugs, kisses and “I love yous” abound, pretty much whenever I want them. And I’m not shy about asking for (or just taking) them, when I need to.

    As a step-parent of an 11-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, the story is quite different.

    I am not typically the first person my step-daughter goes to with problems. Even for “girlie problems”, of which there are a lot at this age, my husband is first in line. This is odd to me, as I would have rather died than ask my father to buy me tampons or talk about my boyfriend issues when I was 16, but I’m happy she can be so open with him. I, in turn, get my “love” from her during shopping trips and outings with her friends, when I get a very appreciative “Super Rocks!”, aka “I love you.”

    My step-son, on the other hand, is a bigger challenge. I am rarely invited to be involved in his everyday struggles. Dad, again, plays point for him and I’m low on the list of alternates that includes Mom, Grandma and Grandpa. On a good day, this is fine with me. He is comfortable with that dynamic and knows that he can come to me if he needs/wants to. On a bad day, I get pissed off and hurt by his exclusion of me. And although there are still some bad days, I figure if he’s still referring to me as “Super”, my given family nickname, we’re moving in the right direction.

    Such is the roller coaster called parenthood.

    @BeingSuper

  2. Wendy Young Says:

    Melissa,

    I enjoyed your post! Your honesty is so refreshing! What resonates most is your love for you daughter and you trying to get out of your own way to parent HER how she needs you to! BRAVO, mama!

    It’s so ironic how the pendulum swings in the opposite direction, too….kids that are in a state of “un”…intensity…versus kids that are so amped up! My recent post looks at the other end of the continuum! http://bit.ly/41yNF0

    No matter how you slice it…it’s all about the kids! Rock on!

    Wendy @Kidlutions

  3. Hallie Doyle Says:

    Oh my goodness…I read this once before, but this time your message grabbed me on a very personal level…I think I’ve been seeing the menacing clouds and turbulence with my sons…thank you for reminding me of looking for and seeing new vistas.

    I LOVE your insights, Melissa.

    Thank you, thank you!

  4. cynthia Says:

    I too am in this place of knowing my job is unconditional love with my innie son. I am thankful to see other parents with the same struggle. My son is such an amazing kid with inner sense of himself that is strong and knowing that I still don’t have to this day let alone when I was 14 1/2. I look forward to reading through your blog for more connection to my own situation with my son–so that I can truly parent him the way he needs—get out of my own way so I can just love him unconditionally. thanks again Cindy

  5. meltay Says:

    Thanks, Cynthia! I’m grateful to hear I am not alone – it is encouraging on those hard days!

    Melissa meltay@comcast.net

  6. Melly Says:

    I like your blog. I’m a little perplexed by this post though. In the following sentence I’m not judging, I’m just playing devil’s advocate: Have you thought about the time when your innie child will grow up enough to read this post and realize that there was a time in your life when you didn’t love her unconditionally? I bet this will be a hard time for her and might bring some turbulence in your mother-daughter relationship. For example, if I somehow found out that my mom didn’t love me unconditionally at some point I would probably get very hurt. Maybe I just don’t understand because I’m not a parent yet so forgive my ignorance. I was just wondering what you think about your daughter finding out, and do most/all parents go through questioning the unconditional love for their children? Thanks!


  7. Melly,
    It’s a good question and one I think about as I write about my children. I think it comes down to honesty or fear of future events? At the moment I pick honesty so that I can live with my feelings, imperfect as they are, and grow into a better woman of depth – hopefully – and model that for my children. Because this might hurt her, I may take the blog down in ten years – who knows. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    Thanks for your comment,

    M.


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