The other day, I was feeling sad because I’m not, ummmm, perfect.
I know. Nobody’s perfect.
But I was feeling badly because I felt that a friend of mine was wishing she could change one of my flaws. I felt like she was tolerating my flaw but certainly would rather that it disappeared and was replaced by a trait she preferred. I felt unloved.
And it made me think about how I treat flaws in others.
To be honest, not well. I barely tolerate them. And I had certainly never thought about embracing them.
Then I realized that embracing them and celebrating them is what unconditional love is all about.
Let’s look at an example most of us can understand: the flaw of being late for everything. That is a trait that we don’t find much joy in when faced with it in a friend, partner, or child. Some of us will have a fit about it all the time. Most of us will tolerate it but really wish it would change. But few of us accept it as it is and celebrate that it is part of the person we love.
And that is unconditional love.
Looking at a child who is always late and embracing that as a unique gift that makes them who they are. They are late because they are so focused on the imaginary world they were creating or because they are so mindful about putting on their shoes or because they are uncomfortable going where they need to be headed. And all of that is beautiful—even if it manifests into something we see as a flaw. There is such sweet vulnerability when you can look past the flaw and imagine what is really behind it.
Unconditional love is being able to look deeply into that flaw and see the vulnerability and the fear and the beauty that is really there. To recognize that you love the vulnerability, the fear, and the beauty with all your heart. Because that is what makes that person you love whole. And wishing to change it is wishing to change what you deeply love about the person.
Unconditional love is letting the person deal with changing themselves in their own time, when they are ready. It is accepting their own path. And loving where they are now, as imperfect as they are.
Love your loved ones for who they are now. By allowing them to be as they are and figure it out as they will. In their own time. Without you needing it to change.
For the people we love most in our lives, this is the way we can love them unconditionally. And as we progress in our practice of unconditional love, we can extend it further to more and more people in our lives.
We can exchange our tolerance for unconditional love.