The Secret of Unconditional Love on You and Others

Sometimes a movie inspires you and to be a change maker.

I am talking about the documentary movie about Fred Rogers Won’t You be My Neighbor.

It is well worth seeing.

And not just if you are a Mr. Rogers fan, but if you think this world needs a little more kindness. A little more love. A little more encouragement.

You will leave inspired, wanting to spread these three things a little more.

Fred Rogers had a simple message: I love you just the way you are. You are special and matter. I want to be your neighbor. Kindness and love change the world.

Nothing to complicated. But it was a radical message for kid’s television.

Still a radical message.

Most of us don’t have a Fred Rogers in our life.

How many people have told you, “I love you just the way you are?”

Probably not many. Maybe none.

How many people have you told, “I love you just the way you are?”

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.That doesn’t come naturally. Come on, you don’t really expect me to say that!

 

Maybe this is one reason people didn’t understand Mr. Rogers. I mean, who goes around telling imperfect little children, (who clearly are selfish, throw fits, and probably didn’t even eat all of their breakfast cheerfully) that they are loved just the way they are?

Besides Fred Rogers?

Don’t these children need a life of striving and improving and growing before they are getting even half way close to becoming something worth writing home about?

What accomplishments do they have to their name?

How are they better than everyone else?

What special gifts or talents are they using to change the world?

What awards and contests have they won?

Right now, they are dependent on their parents for everything. They are not bringing in any income, cleaning their messes, or leading a support group.

And if those children are told that they are loved and special just the way they are, won’t that make them want to sit down and quit trying? Quit growing? Stop changing? Because we all know, children are far from perfect, no matter where they are in their growth spurt. Big or little. Tall or short.

If there is one thing that children need, it is improvement.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Loving Unconditionally. Why this message is important.

 

If you watch the movie, you will notice the deep connection Mr. Rogers has with children. He gets on their level right away. In a few sentences he gains their trust. Children tell him things they would not tell other adults. Scary things. Funny things. Hard things. Emotional things.

He listens. Acknowledges them and their feelings. The children leave lighter.

His message is simple. You are loved, and you matter.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be loved and to know we matter to someone.

We want to be acknowledged. To know someone sees us and loves us.

Mr. Rogers helps the children feel this.

He explains big scary things like death, divorce, anger, and controlling our emotions using simple words. He encourages us that we can do hard things, like discuss our fears. He reminds us we count right now. Just the way we are.

Acceptance and love ooze from him. And the audience of kids soak it up.

We all want to be accepted. Loved. Right now. Without jumping through hoops or doing complicated things. Or waiting to grow up.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love defined. What does I love your just the way you are mean?   

 

Towards the end of the show, Mr. Rogers is giving a commencement speech and he tells the audience that people have asked him what he means when he says, “I love you just the way you are.”

He said it means you don’t have to earn it. You are loved without making your bed. You are loved during your bad day. You are loved without accomplishing anything and before doing anything.

Wow! Who doesn’t want to be loved without having to earn it? Without doing and accomplishing?

Wouldn’t you savor being loved:

When you first wake up and haven’t even gotten dressed.

In the middle of your mistake riddled and emotional rollercoaster day

While your boss is telling you all the improvements you need to make.

In the middle of your temper tantrum.

When your house is a mess and the clothes you are wearing are dirty.

When your kids are screaming, the dog is digging up your flower bed, and your neighbor is not mincing words about your cat attacking his cat.

When nothing on your to-do list is crossed off at the end of the day.

When you feel to tired to even try to get out of bed, try to be cheerful, or live a good life.

When you are at your worst. Your dirtiest. Your lowest point. Your most unlovable period.

Yes! We all would.

We all have our hand in the air asking for this kind of unconditional love. This love that is not dependent on us. Our actions. Our doing. Our emotions. Our accomplishments. Our striving. Our earning. Our age or health. Our future or past.

Did you get that?

This kind of love is unconditional love. It is not dependent on anything we do or don’t do. Unconditional love loves us no matter what. It loves us in all circumstances and possibilities. It doesn’t suddenly evaporate or grow because of anything we do.

Unconditional love. This is what we as adults. We as children. We as humans desire. Crave. Thrive under.

But this kind of love is rare. Hard to exhibit. Hard to understand.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Conditional love versus unconditional love. Why we feel nervous saying this to others.

 

We grow up nervously trying to please others. Forming our self into something acceptable and wanted. We strive and earn. We accomplish and do, so we can accept our self and so others will accept us.

We compare. Tweak our self a little.

Judge others. Tweak our self a little more.

Compete in the game of life. And tweak our self a little more.

We all know that no one is perfect. That no one has yet arrived and is the best they can be.

That everyone has room for growing and changing.

And we take all these ideas and apply them to love.

People need to earn our love, we think. They need to do something for us to love them more.

Maybe not at first, because we love a baby just because it is ours, but soon we expect more.

We tell our kid we love them when they bring home an A. Hit a baseball out of the diamond. Make us proud. Win an award. Do their chores. Delight us in some way.

We tell our mate we love them when they remember our birthday. When we feel loving towards them. When they clean the kitchen. During that sunset stroll on the beach.

We don’t want to have conditional love, but so often our love is conditional.

And one very hard thing for us to say to those we love, is, “I love you just the way you are.”

Yup. Right now. Right here.

And what’s often harder still, is saying that to our self.

Have you ever looked yourself in the mirror and said those words to yourself and believed them?

The rub is this. These words are probably hard to say because we see a good number of imperfections of the person we would say this to. Yes, we love the person, but we also see and know many of their imperfections, flaws, and areas they need some improvements in.

And when we say, “I love you just the way you are,” we think we are saying to the other person that they are perfect. Have arrived in life. Can sit back and stop growing or trying.

The reality though, is that we are not saying they are perfect. We are saying, “I love you as the flawed human you are. You don’t need to jump through hoops to earn my love. Because my love is not dependent on what you do. My love is dependent on who you are. On your worth as a human. A child of God.”

You are saying, “I accept you and love you flaws and all.”

“My love does not waver and come and go. My love is unconditional.”

You are saying, “You don’t need to take a shower, read a self-help book, solve your fears, heal your anger, get dressed out of yoga pants, or put makeup on for me to love you. I accept you the way you are.”

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.If I say I love you unconditionally, will the other person know what I am saying?

 

Try it.

Tell your child, mate, or friend, that you love them just the way they are.

See what happens.

When we feel secure in the love someone has for us, we are more vulnerable. We quit pretending and act more like our self. We want to try harder and do better. We release a huge sigh of relief. We feel inspired to do more and accomplish more. We quit hiding the true us.

Put away your fears. The last thing we do is sit down and think we have arrived and are now perfectly content to do nothing for the rest of our life in the manner of improving our self or growing.

Because we as humans, and from a very early age, know we are not perfect. We know that we have improving and work to do on our self. Our most recent mistakes spring to mind. Our flaws and self-doubts fill our mind.

Listen. Someone is already saying I love you unconditionally to you.

 

Do you know that someone already loves you unconditionally?

Without that shower and with your morning breath.

With all your flaws. Your lack of new achievements. Even with your bad attitude that is still hanging on from yesterday.

He loves you just the way you are. Right now.

Even with your messy desk, rough patches of skin, and lack of matching socks.

You don’t need to change yourself to get his love. His acceptance. His help. His grace.

You don’t need to try harder, mold yourself into good enough, or try to earn his love.

His love is not something you earn. It is a free gift. Freely given.

God loves you just the way you are right now. You don’t have to do anything to earn his love. You don’t have to produce and do to have the right to be allowed some of his love.

His love is unconditional.

His love is waiting for you. Just receive it.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Loving someone unconditionally. Now Pass it On  

 

If someone said, “I love you just the way you are,” what would you say? Feel?

How could it change your life a little?

And what if you said it to those around you? How would it change their lives? Your relationships with them?

Try it.

It doesn’t have to be there exact words. But something like it.

See what happens. How the person responds.

Then do it again and again until they begin to realize you mean it. That you love them unconditionally. That they don’t have to earn your love.  Or change to get your love.

Say it until they believe you love them faults and all. Bad traits and all. Horrible day and all. Quirky smile and all. Unsightly toes and all. Plus, all their wonderful and charming personality and bits thrown in. You love them kit and caboodle.

And while you are at it. Say it to yourself. And mean it. Now say it again. Again. Replace those lies and critical tracks playing in your mind with the truth.

Listen and hear God saying to you every day.  Because he is. His unconditional love is a daily gift. Always renewed. Always available.

Now pass it on to those around you.

When we feel loved, truly loved, we don’t sit down and stop growing. No, we grow in ways we can’t even imagine.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

P.S. Lesley writes about what it looks like to Live Loved!   And Kaitlyn Bouchillon talks about a very moving scene from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? at (in)courage.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on unconditional love?

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.

Ditch Digging, Being Silent, and Keeping Company

DithDiggingHeaderPic I sit on a large rock embedded with tiny shells and sea fragments that the builders left in our backyard. Probably because it was too much of a bother to haul away. Architectural detail, they doubtless thought.

The hot and humid Missouri air has a slight breeze to it that moves the pointed tip oval birch leaves that block the sun’s glare. An easy silence falls between us as I watch my husband wiggle the shovel one hand deep into the clay soil that surrounds our house, our neighborhood, our town. So different it is from the loamy soil we left in Washington. Clay clumps together, is heavy, can need a crow bar to break it up when dry. He tosses the soil from the shovel onto a strip of plastic that borders the trench he is hand digging. He hits a rock, stops and wipes his forehead, then starts again.

He is planning, executing, and creating a drainage system to collect the rainwater from two of our gutters, as well as the neighbor’s gutters, which flow joyfully into our yard. The ditches will hold PVC pipe that will carry the water to the back edge of our yard to join the neighborhood deluge that flows down and past, seeking the safety of the nearby creek.

“To hot to dig,” he laughs.

“That’s why I am sitting and watching. No supervising,” I giggle.

He is my husband and we are spending time together. Talking. Silence. A few laughs. Handing him something to drink. Passing him the level so he can measure the depth.

DitchDigging1My first inclination is not to sit out there with him. Wasting time, I might call it. And yet early on I learned that he likes me near when he does projects, often on weekends. Usually I help him with the task, but digging is something I don’t want to do. Something he won’t allow me to do. But still he wants me close. Wants company. Wants to spend time together.

“Come talk to me,” he called, when I brought him water.

I know his Morse code. He is actually saying, spend some time with me. Show me you care enough to give me some of your valuable time. Pass time with me. Watch me, talk to me, tell me some story of yourself, love me.

Sometimes I groan and want to tell him that he is old enough to work alone. And yes, often he does work alone, but I also know from experience that a task always goes quicker, is less cumbersome when company comes to share the space next to us or lends a helping hand.

I have slowly learned this secret of my husband. He likes me nearby sometimes when he is working. He will be heading out to mow the lawn and say, “Come outside and spend time with me.”

DitchDigging2DitchDigging3I used to think, am I supposed to walk along side the mower and shout over the motor.

No, he just wants someone nearby. Company. When he looks up from his straight rows he’s carving in the grass, he wants to see someone, a friendly face, someone he loves. He wants to be reminded that he is doing this task for the good of his wife and family. So I head out and water plants, deadhead, sweep the garage with the door open so he can see me. Sometimes I sit for awhile in the driveway and watch him, or talk to the neighbors. And when he is done sheering the grass he comes over and we will sit and talk a few minutes and then he will thank me for my help. Not that I did anything really, but I helped the task fly quicker and made him feel less lonely.

He is Adam wanting companionship, and I am his Eve.

And when the day is done, isn’t it more important that I sat in the shade of the tree watching him dig trenches for the PVC pipe and helping him solve the drop of the trench needed to carry the water, and that we talked through nothing and something than me answering emails, cleaning toilets, baking cookies, or writing my book? Because after all, spending a long afternoon with my husband bonds us in a way that other things can’t. The silence and laughter ties the cords that connect us to one another. And what better way to get to know someone or say I love you than to spend an afternoon with them doing not much of anything?

The same applies to God. We won’t get to know Him very deeply if we just visit with Him at only church. Hi, thanks, please, and good-by. See you next week.

DitchDiggingQuote2During the week we need to sit quietly sometimes listening, occasionally commenting. We need to think about His word we read earlier in the day, perhaps when nursing, cleaning the bathroom, driving to work. Short prayers throughout the day shorten the cords between us and remind us of our purpose, readjust our perspectives. Thank yous whispered aloud acknowledge Him as the giver of all good gifts and the creator of all. Songs lift our spirits.

Spending time with God, our husband, our children, or others can be hard because it takes that one precious commodity we all have so little of—time itself. So many demands already clamor for our time. But yet it takes the sacrifice of time, valuable time unselfishly allotted out to others before we can move to a deeper level, a more intimate and secret level with them. A level where you can begin to read their Morse code.

 

Join the Discussion: How do you keep company with your husband, children, others, or with God?