Conditional Unconditional Love

The ideal of love is it’s unconditional nature. The closest we usually come to that kind of love is the love between a parent and her child. But even that love has it’s limits, it’s conditions. I know that I’ve come up against my own limitations with a love that I thought was permanent and eternal. I thought I saw the face of God with this love and poured all that I had into it. But I was wrong. Time and trust were broken and I had to walk away. So much for the face of God.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who’ll take me for myself
And if I find my hard headed woman
I won’t need nobody else, no no no.
– “Hard Headed Woman” by Cat Stevens

I found a level of intimacy that I had never dreamed existed. The face of God. I was inspired to be my best self, not wanting to hide any part of myself but to bring all of it into full expression and creativity. Wherever I thought I lacked I set about to push through to be better, to be the best me because I was renewed by this powerful connection and boundless intimacy. Fearless, complete, committed, doubt-free, a self that I hadn’t seen in over a decade came into existence. A love of my music that had lain silent and had been a forgotten memory rose in me. I saw, I felt, I touched, I tasted, I couldn’t get enough. I became part of something much bigger than myself. The face of God. My world changed. I changed. Then I waited. And waited some more. I waited longer than I ever imagined I was capable of waiting.

He came from somewhere in her long ago,
the sentimental fool don’t see,
tryin’ hard to re-create what had yet to be created
once in her life.
She musters a smile for his nostalgic tale,
never coming near what he wanted to say,
only to realize it never really was.
– “What a Fool Believes” by Michael McDonald

Yeah, I knew better. I understood the circumstances. It all made sense. Clearly it wasn’t what I thought it was. It had been our special secret for so long but in the light of day it was something she’d rather no one else ever knew about. I wanted to shout about it from the mountain tops and she was pained to even acknowledge that i had been a college friend. How could something so powerful be so much the creation of my own head, a delusion that I never asked for? And if that were true, then did I really see the face of God or was that all wishful thinking too?

Hello. How are you?
Have you been alright, through all those lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely nights
That’s what I’d say. I’d tell you everything
If you’d pick up that telephone yeah
Hey. How you feelin?
Are you still the same?
Don’t you realize the things we did, we did, were all for real, not a dream?
I just can’t believe
They’ve all faded out of view yeah yeah
– “Telephone Line” by ELO

I wonder. I never expected for it to happen when it did. Does this mean that if some lovely with a dainty cross necklace smiles at me that I can go back to believing in the Man behind the curtain? Somehow that seems twisted. But there I was a few mornings ago, looking through the profile of one lovely e-harmonette, and the thought struck me that if this were “the one” than would I again become best friends with the Man behind the curtain? I mean, we stopped talking because for all of those years that I spent waiting I was hearing that He knows what I want before I do and wants to give that to me and the fact that it wasn’t happening must mean that A) I’m doing something wrong, B) she’s not “the one, C) Not now, or D) Any combination of A, B, or C. Eventually I began to wonder that it might be: E) there is no Man behind the Curtain.

And as much as I’ve spent the past year living like it’s option E, there is this part of me that needs for there to be someone there to talk to in the darkness of my own soul. At the same time, even if I were to be blessed with the mate of my dreams, how do I trust someone who stood by while my heart was slowly broken and brought to this place of doubt? I’m willing to acknowledge that I got it all wrong but where do I find the place of trust again? Needless to say, none of this is going to be attractive to anyone looking for a Christ-led home and looking for someone to love them like Christ loved the Church. Yeah. I understand the analogy but I’m not even going to pretend to live up to that expectation. I have the hair and the beard, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Funny thing is, someone who hasn’t gone through this “intimate faith” experience or doesn’t believe in anything doesn’t seem particularly attractive to me either. Alas, I seem to have conditions piled on conditions piled on conditions in my pursuit of unconditional love. Lord help us.

So long, I’ve been looking too hard, I’ve been waiting too long
Sometimes I don’t know what I will find, I only know it’s a matter of time
When you love someone, when you love someone
It feels so right, so warm and true, I need to know if you feel it too

Maybe I’m wrong, won’t you tell me if I’m coming on too strong
This heart of mine has been hurt before, this time I wanna be sure

I’ve been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life
I’ve been waiting for a girl like you, your loving will survive
I’ve been waiting for someone new to make me feel alive
Yeah, waiting for a girl like you to come into my life
– “Waiting for a Girl like You” by Foreigner


  1. Kyle Krstolic

    Wow, great post. Your openness is awesome. I would give you advice, but most of the time people just say stupid, meaningless things when others are hurting. I do think it is great, and says a lot, that you are still thinking and open. Keep seeking. Let me know if you ever want to chat.


  2. laura

    i married someone who promised he would be the spiritual head of the household and would raise our children in the House of God. i’d make jokes about lapsed Catholics, but let’s just say that it didn’t happen. after being forced to go to church at least once per week (usually more) by my parents for 19 years, i am actually happy that my spouse is nothing more than a Chreester (Christmas/Easter church-goer). i am guilted in nearly every phone conversation about how i am a horrible Christian, but i have a spiritual fellowship in my own home with the person whose soul i love most on this earth. and that’s enough for me.

    i think (not that you asked… but here it is) that you need to resolve within yourself about what your relationship is with “the Man Behind the Curtain” before you can be honest about Him in a relationship with another person. God will always be there for you, whatever your mindset, and will always open His arms to you whether you’re in His home three days per week or never … and alone or with a beaming beauty by your side. while she will put spiritual and earthly demands on you, His expectations are always the same. no matter what my whim or value my earthly husband has from year to year, i can always rely on my spiritual Father to remain constant and loving. that brings peace that no matter what happens in my marriage, there is always that warm comfort of knowing i am always safe with Him.

    …for what it’s worth. ♥ happy valentine’s day from your favourite “Chatty Cathy.” ♥


  3. Cathleen Murphy

    Hey, Joe:

    “Laura” is right, you know… if you get your relationship with the “Man Behind the Curtain” in place, the rest will follow. That woman you talked about came close to filling that empty spot inside of you…. which tells me she was in your life for a reason and a season. She brought things alive in you that no one else could. Don’t let those things die just because she’s gone. Sounds strange, but the same longing you and I and all of us have for intimacy, fulfillment, and closeness is the same longing He has to meet all of those needs for you. I know from personal experience… I’ve tried to find those things in another human but it just never happens. In the end, that other person feels you are sucking them dry… because you are. Even if they give everything, it won’t be enough.

    What you need can’t come from a mere human–it must come from your Creator. Did you ever notice how the Bible refers to the “Church” (meaning Christians) as the “Bride of Christ”? That’s an expression of His desire to get one-on-one with you, heal your wounds, reveal your true purpose in life, and fulfill your deepest desires–things even you have forgotten about.

    So, don’t leave Him on the shelf. He’s waiting for you with open arms. Getting that part of my life right over the past few years has been so amazing that everything–including men–pales by comparison. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Really pressing in with God has changed who I am. I thought I was ready for a relationship before, but now I know I was wrong. I was a broken person looking for the other half. Now I’m a whole person ready to conquer the world. If I find another conqueror on the way, maybe we’ll join forces. But my focus is on the goal.

    And by the way, I never got much from eHarmony; the matches didn’t come close to what I considered compatible–although a friend of mine met her husband through them, so maybe I’m an aberration. (Wouldn’t be the first time!) Have you tried ChristianCafe.com? I like the way the profiles are set up. Christian Mingle is OK, too. I can actually look at pictures and profiles and see a few emails without paying anything. 😉



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