I understand this concept in a normal relationship, but unconditional love for myself is a foreign concept.
On day ten of my self-love journey, we explore the different types of love. According to the Bible, we have three different types of love; eros, phileo, and agape. The first two types of love are to describe erotic attraction to an individual and a friendly love respectively. The last, however, describes an unconditional love our God has for us. The Love Dare challenges us to love our spouse with this type of love. To put it into terms I can understand, agape love is a love that doesn’t go away no matter how the other person changes. That sounds challenging.
I can honestly say that in our marriage, I have agape love for Jess. Our marriage of almost 10 years has seen trials and we’ve made mistakes that would blow up most marriages. However, the dedicated love we have for each other has held our marriage together through these trying times. But what about agape love for myself?
Unconditional with so many conditions
After reading this chapter, I will admit, my mood took a nosedive. I think about all the reasons I have to love myself, and they are all conditional. As a matter of fact, this chapter hit my root cause for why I struggle to get through my PTSD journey. My first marriage lived in the space of conditional. Regardless of my loving acts or selflessness, I never could reach the level of love I wanted from a spouse. Fast forward to today, I treat myself the same way. We can say this is a conditioned response from my past, but I practice unconditional love in my current marriage.
Logically, then, I have the ability to practice this type of love. The challenge for this section is to perform an act of kindness that is in no way related to something your loved one does for you. For me, this was definitely a challenge. The only positive things I typically do for myself are to either benefit others around me or it is something that I need. With this challenge, however, I must do something nice for myself with the only reason to show love to myself. I ended up showing myself love by stopping a project I was working on. Okay, I know that sounds weird, so let me explain.
Most, if not all, projects I perform around the house are to keep my family happy. We house over 60 chickens and over time they have destroyed our yard. The goal of my project is to keep the chickens segregated to a certain part of our property while keeping them free-range. After 4 hours of working on the fence, I started working on an access gate. My back already protested, but my stubbornness told me to continue the work. As I gather my materials to build the gate, I reminded myself of this chapter and decided to stop work for the day.
Did I learn anything from this exercise?
Nobody and I mean nobody cared that I didn’t finish the fence. As a matter of fact, Jess was happy that I quit when I did because it gave me time to spend with my family. Usually, I don’t show myself love, because I am afraid of the backlash from my responsibilities. Does this exercise show what the future can look like? Can I show myself unconditional love without negative ramifications? I can’t promise I will do this every day, but I am encouraged that I should try this practice more often.
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