I have a hard time believing that unconditional love exists. I was made to believe that god is love, but the love that I read about in the Bible sure as hell seemed conditional. How can a loving god send his creation to be tortured for eternity for lack of belief that he actually exists? Or believing that he exists, but not following the correct interpretation of the word to a T? To me, that sounds like control, not so much love. I always found that odd, especially since the creator made up the system in the first place.
In my day-to-day life, the topic of love has been difficult. Not just romantically, but the love I have between friends and family. For me, relationships post-faith deconstruction have been hard at times and it ties back to my former community.
I feel like there was little room for trying to understand each other back in the day. There was rarely a “We can disagree and be friends” kind of attitude. You had to have the same convictions as your friends, or you couldn’t be friends. Growing up, I watched so many relationships of all kinds end over frivolous issues within fundamentalism. When is the Sabbath? What is modesty? How many laws do we REALLY need to follow? I’ve seen relationships that were decades-long end over small interpretations of scripture. I’ve seen parents cut out their children for expressing their sexuality. I have sat in church members’ homes listing to the gossip. You cannot be authentic, when you can be cut off, so quickly.
As a result of this culture, conflict scares me. I avoid it and oftentimes find myself keeping my mouth shut more than what is healthy. If something bothers me, I am weary to speak up. Internally I have anxiety about people leaving if I say, do, or make decisions that I know my loved ones would disagree with.
I thought this way of thinking would end once I got into the real world, but it hasn’t. I hate that I can’t see the best in others. I understand that this isn’t the way that we are supposed to live. I keep thinking that maybe when I get that core group of friends it won’t be that way. At the same time, how will I have authentic relationships if I can’t be real? I sure as hell don’t want to be stuck in this mindset for the rest of my life. So, does unconditional love exist?
Photo Courtesy of Lais Bosco Photography