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Finding Unconditional Love No Matter What

Sometimes it’s hard to find love for other people. Sometimes those people who are hard to love are in our own families. This episode is all about finding unconditional love for others, from family members to complete strangers. Loving other people is much more about where you are in your own life, and much less about where someone else is in their life. You CAN love anyone. It is possible for you to think loving thoughts and feel loving feelings towards anyone, and when you do that, you grow as a person.

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Full Transcript

Welcome back to love month, February at Parenting Through the Detour. You’re listening to Episode 35 Unconditional Love, No Matter What.

Howard W. Hunter said, “Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to him.” And we know that men and women are that they might have joy. But when you get taken on a parenting detour, it feels like joy is something that other people get to feel. But not you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Join me on this podcast. And let’s find some joy through your detours. And I’ll give you some help along the way. I’m your host, Tina Gosney. And I’m a life and relationship coach, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Okay, a few months ago, I was asked to give us a talk in sacrament meeting about unconditional love. And after that talk, I had several people reach out to me, and wanting to know if I had it written down somewhere they wanted a copy of it. Or if there was some other place that they could like there was a recording of it somewhere. And of course, I said no and no, I didn’t have either. I had a general outline, and there was no recording of it. So I thought, I’m just going to give it again, but I’m going to do it on the podcast. And I’m going to do it in February. So it can be keeping in the theme for the month of love. So this is my talk that I gave on unconditional love. And no, it won’t be word for word, but it will be very similar to the talk that I gave in secret meeting a few months ago.

I have four children, and one of them was just super difficult to raise. And the reason she was so difficult is because she was so extremely independent. And she just didn’t want anyone telling her what to do, ever, for what ever reason it didn’t even matter what the reason was, she just always wanted to be a person that made her own choices. And that was from the time that she was very little. She was like that. And I remember one day she was in kindergarten. So she was five or six. And she had the kindergarten teacher in the neighborhood, the neighborhood school. That was the loved kindergarten teacher, everyone loved her. Everybody wanted to have that teacher. And she was so loving. And so just just such a wonderful teacher.

And she was very old, elderly as well. She was 70. That’s why we were the park we were celebrating her 70th birthday party. And the entire neighborhood was there. And people that had use their kids used to have her for a teacher and present students. And just people that came from all over the left her and we had a really large neighborhood park. And so we were all at this park together. And there was a playground area. And then some ways off across the field was a table that was set up with a celebration for the birthday party. And we got there early, and there was tons of kids on the playground. And my kids were having so much fun here I was, I think I was about six months pregnant with number four, which means I had a two year old, also a five year old and an eight year old.

And the kids were all having a fun time playing at the park. And then it came time for everyone to go over to the other side of the park, sing happy birthday and give the teacher a hug and have cake and ice cream and all the things that you would do to celebrate a birthday and to give gifts. And all the kids went and their parents went one by one. And I tried to get my daughter to go. And I said to her Come on, we need to go everybody’s going over there. And she dug her heels in and she said no, I’m not going I want to stay. I want to stay here on the playground. And I said no, let’s go and I was watching everybody leave. And she was saying no. And I was saying yes, we are leaving. As I had a two year old on my hip and I’m very pregnant. And it just the more I said let’s go the more she said no, I’m not going and slowly became a situation where we were the only ones left on the playground. And everyone else had gone over to the other side of the park.

Here I was arguing with a five year old on the playground. Out of the corner of my eye I could see someone walking towards me and I was thinking Oh Please don’t Don’t come over here and say anything. I just I don’t need that right now. Just keep on walking by and just slip Leave me alone. And I didn’t notice who it was for another second or two, but it was the husband of this kindergarten teacher who we were having the party for. Now, her husband was also very elderly. And he was not in great health, he was a pretty large man. He spent a lot of time in the classroom, knowing the students of his wife. And so he was familiar with my daughter, she was familiar with him, she knew who he was. He was familiar with her. And he was also a very quiet man.

He didn’t say anything, as he walked over to us. But he just walked over and picked her up, and just gave her this big giant bear hug. And she was kicking and screaming and hitting him and, and all the things and he just held on to her and held her really tight. And after a few seconds, she stopped kicking him and screaming. And she was just stiff as a board. And then a few seconds later, she just kind of melt into his arms. He never said a word to her that I saw. And she doesn’t remember if he did or not. And he never the well the only words that he said to me. After a few seconds of just holding her in her melting into his arms. He put her down and he said to me, sometimes all they need is love. And then he just walked away. And I was thinking this man, this man has magical powers.

How did he do that? This was a situation that I would find myself in with this daughter several times a day, every single day. I would be saying let’s do this. And she would be saying no, I’m not going to do that. Every single day. And this man in a matter of seconds, she melted into his arms. And I was thinking I have no idea how to do this. I do not know. He must have magical powers. So I’ve wondered, for a long time how he did that. And I understand now, a little over 10 years after that situation in the park, I found myself with the same daughter in a situation that was still me saying you’re going to do this? And her saying no, I’m not. But this time, the circumstances around that situation were a much different we weren’t on a playground anymore.

And it felt like the consequences from her saying no, I’m not and me saying yes, you are. We’re much more serious. And I remember myself, I was on my closet floor, just sobbing because you know, closet floors are private. There’s like layers of separation between you and your children. It’s just a place that I would go to pour my heart out in prayer quite often, my closet floor or the shower or the car, those were my three go to places. So here I was on the closet floor, just sobbing. And I remember thinking and just in my prayers, including this phrase of Heavenly Father, I give up. And it was at that moment that I that I said, I give up. That I felt this huge rush of love come over me and just Envelop me it felt like I was swallowed up in that. And, and I remember this thought coming into my mind of, well, now I can begin to work with you.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any thoughts come into my mind like, Oh, now, now I’ll fix her. Or don’t worry about it, I’ll fix her. Or you’ve done enough, you just rest now I’ll take care of this. It was now I can begin to work with you. It didn’t have anything to do with my daughter. It had to do with me. And I think that’s very significant to think about as I go through the rest of this podcast is that phrase, now I can begin to work with you. Because it’s always about us. It’s never really about the other person. What I heard was that I needed to change. And I had been doing a lot of things, all the things that I thought I was supposed to do.

And I was a really good box checker in my life. I was really good at checking all the boxes of the things that I thought I was supposed to do of the path I thought I was supposed to follow. And you just give me something to do and I’m going to do it and I’m going to try to do it the best I can. But what I didn’t allow those things that I did to do for me, was for my heart to be changed through them, my heart to be changed through those experiences, I was too busy about getting things right. And about being a perfectionist in the way I was doing things that I wasn’t allowing the doing of those things, to change my heart. And that’s really what they’re supposed to be doing. We’re not supposed to just be checking boxes for the sake of checking boxes, or doing things for the sake of doing things.

Doing things are supposed to change our hearts and to help us soften and grow closer and into more loving people. And we’re all on this journey through this life. And we are supposed to learn and grow and change through what we experience, we’re supposed to be one, that in order for us to be one, we need to focus on changing ourselves. And we do that through the interactions that we have with each other. And we work on ourselves through the difficulty of those interactions. And the only person that we really have effect over the only person we really truly have influence over is ourselves. And when we really do focus on ourselves and focus on our own ability to become better, to become softer and more kind and compassionate and understanding with others, then it’s when we can truly become one in our marriages and in our families in our ward and in the church as a whole.

So, for the last 10 years, I’ve kind of been on a quest to understand what’s happening with our families with our children. Why they in so many adults are leaving the LDS church. And it’s become kind of a almost I wouldn’t say hobby, but it’s become a real source of interest for me in why people are leaving the church. And I understand a lot more now than I did 10 years ago. And I think we can all do better in loving those that stay. And in loving those who decide to leave. In Matthew 22. We have the first and second greatest commandments when Jesus is asked, Master, which is the great commandment and the law. And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Now when I read these scriptures, I don’t see two commandments, I actually see three. And the last one is hidden in the very last part of verse 39, thou shalt love thy neighbor, as thyself, as they self, I think are two key words that are so often overlooked. I’ve wondered why we do such a terrible job of loving our neighbors. Why, in general, we are not good at loving our neighbors. And I think it’s because we do a terrible job of loving ourselves first, if we can’t love ourselves first. There’s no way we even know how to love our neighbor. And this is such an overlooked part of that scripture.

We have so many judgments of ourselves, in fact, just this week, these are things that I’ve had people say to me, in coaching sessions, they’ve said, I’m not measuring up. I can’t ever get to this ideal. So why should I even keep trying? I’m so worthless. No one will ever love me. I’m such a failure. If I had been a better mother, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. My family deserves a better husband and father, I’m never going to be what they need. Just this past week. I’ve had people say those things to me. And I think most people really think consciously or unconsciously, really terrible things about themselves. And so often it doesn’t come out in conscious thought, but it shows up in different ways. Like the need to be perfect perfectionism saying yes to things that you really want to say no to. Not speaking what’s really true for you, comparing yourselves to other people. Sometimes it looks like self harm, addiction, and many other ways that are destructive to our bodies and our spirits.

And these are just a few in DNC 45 We can read about how men’s hearts will fail them. And I think this is just one way that this prophecy is showing up in that we can’t even love ourselves. Our hearts are failing ourselves in our heart is the source of love and connection with others. Also, in D&C, section 10, we read about contention. And Satan’s main goal is to get us into contention. Now, usually when we think about being in contention, we think about not getting along with other people. But I want to tell you that I don’t think that’s the main reason, I don’t think that’s the main way that Satan gets us into contention. I think he gets us into contention with ourselves internally. And then that contention will naturally spill out into how we think about other people, and how we treat other people. So when the commandment in Matthew 22 says, to love your neighbor, as you love yourself, it’s no wonder, we are having trouble loving our neighbor, because you can’t truly love someone else, if you don’t know how to love yourself.

And so many of us have not, we’re not only failing to love ourselves, we’re failing to even be able to tolerate ourselves. And we all have so many wounds that we carry around during our life wounds that our minds and our bodies in our hearts have chosen to pick up and carry with us. And many of these we picked up as children and our minds just carry them around with us without us even knowing it. And they we spend the rest of our lives reacting from these wounds that we’ve picked up. It’s like we put on this backpack and we start piling rocks in this backpack. And then we just carry that around with us in our life. And we let that that weightiness of that backpack full of rocks affect us. And it plays into how we think and feel and act with ourselves.

And then all of those rocks that we’re carrying around and those messages about ourselves that haven’t been kind, and that we’ve internalized since we’re, before we even knew what was happening. It plays out into how we think and we feel and we act towards other people. So here, we are just wounded people carrying around these backpacks full of rocks. And we go around, because we’re wounded, we go around wounding other people, thinking that it’s all about them. When it’s really all about us. Have you ever heard hurt people hurt people? Well, we are all in some way hurt people. And then we go around hurting other people.

Now, sometimes I sit in church, and I hear comments that about people who have left the church, or people who maybe don’t live by the standards that were expected to live by as members. We want you to think of like a sinner. What do you think of when you hear the word sinner? Someone who is sinning? Do you think they’re a bad person? Do you think they’re rebellious? Do you think well, they’ve made their choice and now they’re being sifted out of this church? Just what do you think of when you think of the word sinner? what to think, want you to think of sin in a different way, in sin as a form of being wounded. And a person who is committing sin, or has sin in their life as a wounded person. Now, when you hear the word wounded, it brings up a different connotation, then, a bad person, a rebellious person is sifted person, a wounded person is in need of love and compassion. A wounded person is in need of healing. If you think of all of us, as sinners, because we all are, we all fall short, we all miss the mark. We are all wounded. And we are all in need of healing.

And if you could get inside the head of another person, you could see what their life has been like you can see what their thoughts are. The way that they act would make perfect sense to you. And I something that helps me to find love sometimes for other people is to think that they’re doing the best they can with that backpack that they’re carrying around. And sometimes their best is pretty bad. But at least it lets me to have a place where I’m finding love for that person. And when I look at all of us as in a state of woundedness The way I like to think of Jesus Christ is the healer of all wounds. It’s one of my favorite ways to think about him. And so when I was laying on my closet floor that day, giving up, I began to experience a healing. And in the way that I was allowing myself to be healed, I had not been allowing myself to be healed up until that point, and it was like, Jesus Christ came to me and he started bandaging up my wounds so that I could feel better.

And then I had, I just pictured him picking me up and saying, Hey, follow me on, I’m going to help you figure this out. And that’s how he works. He puts bandages up our wounds. And then he takes us by the hand, and he shows us a better way to live. As you think about other people, think about yourself in that same situation, how are you? wounded? And how are you being picked up off your literal or figurative closet floor and allowing Christ to heal you, and allow her loving Him to show you a better way. My mother used to say to me when I was younger, when I was growing up, she would say, when you’re mean to your brother or sister, you’re hurting me more than you’re hurting them. Remember thinking? How is that possible? I don’t understand that. And in my childhood brain, I really did not understand that. But now that I’m a parent, now that I’m older, and my older adult brain does understand what she was trying to say.

But I also think that God says the same thing to us. Like, if you aren’t showing true and honest love to your brother or sister, then you aren’t showing love to me, one of the greatest ways that we can love God is to love all of his children, ourselves and our neighbors. And if we can’t do this, we will never really be one, and we will not grow collectively, we will not grow individually. And this is what’s required of us to uplevel our church. And it begins with each of us looking introspectively and up leveling ourselves, and doing the hard work to get there. So that we can become one, we can become a people that has a greater capacity for love. Now, when I talk about unconditional love, many people ask me a lot of questions about it. What about this? And what about that?

So I’m going to, I’m going to go over some things that are commonly asked. And some things that that unconditional love means and some things that it doesn’t mean. So it doesn’t mean that you’re always going to say yes, sometimes you say I love you and no, I love you. And no, I can’t get behind that I love you. And no, that’s not okay. I love you. And just know. And unconditional love doesn’t say, Well, if you act in a way that I find acceptable, then I can love you. And I’ll show you love. Because that if you say that in any way in your actions, in your demeanor, if you literally say it in words, that’s a very low form of love, it’s a fake love, doesn’t require you as the person giving love to do any sacrifice or growing. That is not unconditional love. It doesn’t say then Well, if you love me, then I can love you. Because that’s a vending machine love means I’m going to put in this amount of effort. And this is what I expect in return. If you don’t give me that, then I’m out.

And if you think about a vending machine, you put in a certain amount of money. And if you don’t get what you wanted out of it, then we tend to, you know, like pound a little bit on the glass or shake the machine trained to give it what we want it to give us in order for it to work the way that we had expected to. And we kind of do the same thing to people, if we are in that, that mindset of vending machine love. Like, I’m going to give you this and I expect this back. And if I don’t get that back, I’m gonna do what I can to kind of shake you down to get the love that I get the love that I deserve, that I’m supposed to get back from you. But unconditional love doesn’t require the other person to do anything different than they are doing right now in this moment. Because that is pure charity, pure love of Christ, unconditional love. And a higher form of love says, I see that you have emotional, mental, spiritual, physical wounds. And my heart goes out to you because I have them too. And I can love you no matter what you do, because we are both in need of healing.

And that is called Agape love. It’s not a term that we use. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used in our church but other faith traditions do use this word Agape love, it’s more of an understanding than it is of anything else. But I love this thought of a copy love. In that, I see that you’re wounded. And I can see your woundedness because I see mine, and together, and I can give you love no matter what. Now, when someone feels pure, unconditional love from you, you have a much greater chance of influencing their life in a positive way. Because they will see, they will feel seen, heard and understood. And when someone feels seen, heard and understood by you, there will be so much more willing to listen because they know that you really care about them.

Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say until they feel loved from you. Now, unconditional love does not mean that we don’t let other people experience the consequences of their own choices. It’s not loving to take away consequences from somebody else, because we are on this earth, learning from our experiences. And we all learn from going through hard things, and taking away someone’s learning experience, by taking away their consequences, is not showing love. Unconditional Love does not mean that you sacrifice yourself in the process. In fact, often boundaries need to be made out of love for yourself and for the other person. And if there is ever any abuse measures should be taken to protect yourself.

We do not sacrifice ourselves and for the sake of unconditional love. Now I am a firm believer that God gave us advances in knowledge and science and medicine and health practices, so that we can take better care of ourselves. He gave us therapy, he gave us coaching. He gave us support groups, he gave us so many. So many things that are coming to light just in the last few years for us to take better care of ourselves. And utilizing these resources can be so beneficial in order to deal with mental and emotional mess that we find ourselves in. So we can better access the healing that is offered to us from Jesus Christ. Because it can be very hard to access the spirit when you are mentally and emotionally unhealthy.

You are in a space where you need to find help. And help is out there. In order to access love from Christ, I urge you to go do that. I urge you to find the right resource. And keep keep looking until you find what’s right for you. Now, so many people struggle with loving their neighbor, because they think their neighbor doesn’t deserve it. But when they tell you this has nothing to do with the other person. Because love is a feeling that you experience inside of yourself. Love feels warm, it feels expansive. And it feels it’s one of the best emotions that you can feel. In fact, when the Grinch gave back the presence, there was a reason that his heart grew three sizes that day. It’s because he felt that love and expansion in himself, right.

So when you feel that feeling of love, it doesn’t, that physical feeling does not jump out of you and into the other person. When you love someone, you are the only one that feels it. The other person gets to decide whether or not they feel love towards you. And maybe they do that according to how you treat them are how you act towards them. But you are the one who gets to experience love when you feel it. And going back to Matthew 22. When I look at those commandments, it’s just more evidence to me that God is good. For this very reason. He tells us to love. He tells us to love three times to love Him love our neighbor and love ourselves. But knowing that love is a physical feeling that you find inside of you, and that you are the one who gets to benefit the most, from bringing that emotion into your own heart. God is good. He’s always looking out for us. He commands us to love and we are the ones that benefit the most from it. So that is what I have for you today about unconditional love.

I’ve hope you enjoyed this modified soccer reading talk that I gave a few months ago in knowing what does unconditional love look like and what are some of the things that get in the way I hope you’re enjoying your month of love this February.

And I’d love for you to go to my website and download a free pdf training I have for you there five ways to feel better right now. It will help you if you are struggling in feeling good in any way in your life right now, you’re gonna want to go download that training. It’s real easy, just a couple of pages. So I promise it’s not going to be something that’s going to take you a lot of time to read. But it’s going to be so helpful and just seeing five ways that you can feel better right now in your life. So there will be a link to that in the show notes. Go to my website, tinagosney.com and download that free training. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next time.