Whenever I go to the ophthalmologist’s office, they check my eyes to see how my vision is doing. While they are able to see behind my eye and assess all kinds of information about my vision, they are unable to assess how I see people. See there is more to our vision then just whether or not it is 20/20 or if we need corrective lenses or contacts to enable us to see better. When it comes to seeing others or ourselves the only lens we need to wear is a lens of love.
How we see others and ourselves is about us and where we are at in our journeys. If we cannot see ourselves through a lens of love, then how can we see others through that lens? The lens of love is unconditional. Some refer to this as agape love, a love that transcends the ability to be frustrated. It cannot be frustrated because there is no expectation attached to it. When we see others and ourselves through this lens of unconditional love, it means we have released our expectations for others and ourselves. When we see ourselves getting frustrated with someone because they have not fulfilled our expectations, it is a signal our love for them was conditional. When others get frustrated with us because we have not filled their expectations, their love for us was conditional. Conditional love always brings frustration and unconditional love always brings fulfillment.
It might seem as if it is easier to have that unconditional love, that agape love with some people, in some situations, in some circumstances than with others. However, even then we are placing conditions on love. What we are called to embody, to live, is this unconditional love. A love that says even if you do not like me, I love you. Even when you reject me, I love you. Even when you say I am not worthy of being loved, I love you. No matter what, I love you. We were each created by love, in love, to be love.
Agape love is unconditional, but it is not concerned with foolishness. If you really love someone, you will be considerate of who they are and what they truly need, but you are not going to concern yourself with their fantasies. There might be a real need for three meals a day, but there is no real need for you to be pretending you are living the lifestyle of the rich and famous when doing so would threaten your financial well-being. That is about feeding the ego and not the soul.
Love knows compassion, but no concern. Sometimes love has to be firm, because love needs to be firm. Sometimes love needs to be distant, because it needs to be distant. Sometimes love hisses because love needs to hiss. Whatever the need, love is considerate, but not concerned. Love is not about fulfilling unreal needs or expectations. Love is not about fulfilling anything that is about feeding the ego.
Love, learning how to embody this agape kind of love, is not easy. It requires practice and experimentation. It requires that we live with a heightened awareness and understanding of who we are and to be in tune with those around us. Love has to become the filter through which we do all things. It has to become the filter through which we breathe, move, think, and act.
Learning to love in this egoless manner is not always easy. As a mother, I love my son. Loving Nicholas should not be a duty, it should not be an obligation, and it should just be what I do. I love my son. I am compassionate when he needs me to be compassionate. I am caring when he needs me to be caring. I am firm when he needs me to be firm. I am what he needs me to be when he needs me to be it. I am considerate of his needs, but I am not concerned with the fulfillment of his fantasies.
Before we can unconditionally love others, we must learn how to love ourselves. Learning to love ourselves is not always easy, in part because some view self-love and self-acceptance as egotistical and narcissistic. However, what we are talking about is not an unhealthy feeding of one’s ego and fantasy, but unconditional love and consideration for who one is and what one needs to survive. The more I love myself, the more I am able to share the love I have with others. The more love I am able to share, the more opportunities I have to allow others to experience God’s unconditional love, compassion, and consideration.
It is important for us to learn how to love ourselves because ego cannot survive in the light of love. If you become the light, if you allow the light of love to shine through you, then the light will dispel any darkness. Your love will give you new understandings of the Infinite. Your love will give you new understandings of eternity. The ability to love others unconditionally is related to our ability to love ourselves unconditionally.