True love. Most of us search high and low for true love in that one ideal relationship. We struggle over it and with it, yearn for it, craft books, music, and poems about it—all without a clear understanding of what we seek or why we want it so desperately.
We’re not even sure what love is. How do we define it? The definition of love is as unique and as varied as every individual who experiences it. That’s a big part of the problem. Love feels different for each person. So how do we tell if the one we love actually returns the favor? After all, our loved one may offer us love that does not quite feel like what we know as love.
To clear up at least some of the confusion, let us establish a basic definition for true love. The truest, purest love is unconditional. Such love is also the simplest form of love because it has no hooks, no standards, no expectations, no conditions attached to it whatsoever. No complications, no hidden clauses or agendas, no restraints or exceptions.
Unconditional love is true love, and unconditional love is healing and uplifting—the ultimate source of all life. True/unconditional love sustains and nurtures life, joy, peace, and freedom. That is why we look so hard for true love. Deep in our souls, we long to be free, loved, and secure.
The very simplicity of unconditional/true love is also the source of its power. Lacking all limitations, unconditional love is limitless and endless. Unconditional love is simply another way of saying God, the infinite, the divine, the source, known by many names. Every major religion, in fact, asserts that God is love.
Unconditional love—God in other words—is so simple that most of us find it very suspicious if not downright impossible to understand or accept. We’re certain there has to be a catch somewhere, just as we’re convinced that some people, somehow and in some way, have done something so horrible or unforgiveable that they no longer merit God’s or anyone else’s love.
Do we damn child abusers? What about terrorists who cause death on a mass scale? Do we condemn corporate polluters? Illegal drug users? Homosexuals? Christian fundamentalists? Those of differing faiths or races?
Our personal litany of the unlovable/unforgiveable says far more about the limitations of our love than about anyone else. It also shows us that the love we give and receive is constricted and diminished by judgments, standards, or expectations. Once we impose even one tiny judgment, standard, or expectation on love, it devolves away from being true/unconditional.
Trapped in the painful web of conditional love, we devote our time and energy to looking for love in all the wrong places. We keep hoping to find true love somewhere “out there,” outside of ourselves, in someone else’s eyes. But that is not the place to find true love.
Future columns will explore where and how to find true love and how we can use that unconditional love to heal ourselves and our world.