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Love Is In the Air of Condition
By Lynda Schab

Brrrr. Dan is freezing. It feels like the air conditioner is on. But he knows that's not the case, because it's the middle of winter. Maybe the furnace isn't working. Nope, that's not it. He just checked the thermostat and it's seventy-five degrees inside. He puts his hand next to the vent and feels warm air blasting out of it. Hmmm. What could be making Dan so cold?

Here comes Susan, his wife. Maybe she has some ideas. "So did you fix the car or not?" she asks with obvious irritation.

"Not yet. I was going to work on it this afternoon." Dan smiles but Susan rolls her eyes.

"What about my dry cleaning? Did you pick that up yesterday?"

Dan frowns. "Sorry, I completely forgot. I'll do it first thing in the morning."

Another eye roll.

"Did you rearrange your work schedule so we could attend Bill and Sarah's wedding?"

Silence.

"My gosh, Dan. I love you but----

* * *

Stop right there. That's it! That's why Dan is so cold! There's something chilly in the air at his house. I call it the air of condition. Why is it so hard for us to love unconditionally?

In this world, everything has a condition attached to it. We receive a paycheck IF we show up for work. We get an A in school IF we study hard. We lose weight IF we eat right and exercise. We (in the mid-west) can get out of our snow-filled driveways IF we actually shovel them!

Why do we find it necessary to put conditions on our love? "I'll love you IF…"

Somehow, it's easier for me to love my kids unconditionally. Even when they mess up, disobey, or get in trouble, I certainly don't stop loving them. In this way, I can (almost) understand God's unconditional love for me, since I am His child. But I am not God and don't always display unconditional love to my kids.

Sometimes I'm guilty of rolling my eyes when they haven't finished their homework. I've been known to criticize when they've done poorly in sports or on a test. I've even made sarcastic comments regarding their personalities or character. The subliminal messages my kids receive from these things are that they don't quite measure up to my expectations. That I might love them more IF they did better in school or behaved better or were more aggressive in basketball.

I've displayed an air of condition to my husband in many ways, including the "Susan" way, above. I'm sure there have been times when my tone of voice or facial expression relayed disappointment, which could be taken as lack of love. Maybe I've even withheld something from him because I'm angry with him.

That, in a sense, says, "You've hurt me, so I'm going to hurt you back by not giving you what you want."

While I'm all for Valentines Day and the celebration of romantic love, I'm more for the every day God-love we should walk in every day of the year.

And no matter what different Valentines’ traditions are practiced around the world, the desire to experience true, unconditional love is universal.

The good news is there are things we can do to minimize the air of condition from our homes and begin heating our homes with the love God desires for us.

Below are four examples from the Bible.*

REMEMBER WHO'S WATCHING YOU

JOHN 13:34 "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

When we love, God-style, we introduce Christ to everyone around us. Love is the best way we prove to the world we are Christians. But more than the world takes notice.

Our children notice, so the next time I feel an un-loving word burning the tip of my tongue, or my eyes start making their way to the ceiling, I'll remember that someone is inevitably watching me, whether it be a neighbor, a child, or God Himself.

PAYBACKS ARE HEAVEN

MATTHEW 5:38-42 "You have heard that the law of Moses says, "If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it. But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow."

Today, the above verse might mean, if your husband asks you to scratch his back for five minutes, scratch it for ten. If your kids ask you to play a game with them, play two. If your neighbor insults you, bring her a loaf of banana bread. If you encounter a rude grocery store clerk, smile and say something nice.

Go the extra mile! These acts of selfless love set wonderful examples for our kids that what someone does to us doesn't determine how we respond. I'll remember that the next time someone cuts me off on the highway.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE

MATTHEW 10:42 "And if you give a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."

Although we need to check our hearts to be sure our motives are pure, we will receive our heavenly reward for showing love. This verse clearly says that when we respond in love, God sees our action and will reward us accordingly.

Most likely, our reward will consist of healthier relationships in our own lives and within our families. Knowing I will be rewarded definitely keeps me motivated to express unconditional love, even when I may not feel like it.

So when my husband refuses to rub my feet, I'll love him anyway. Maybe my reward will be a gift certificate for a pedicure! A girl can dream!

DON'T BE AFRAID!

COLOSSIANS 3:13, 14 "You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony."

Fear may be the number one reason we put conditions on our love. We're afraid that if we love without measure, our hearts may end up trampled and left for dead. We go into a sort of self-defense mode, in which we put up invisible walls we don't allow others to cross.

But this is clearly not God's plan. He wants us to remove those walls and walk in complete forgiveness and love. Only by opening up and risking a broken heart, can we express and experience true, unconditional love.

When we make an effort to walk in love, our fears disappear because "perfect love expels all fear." (1 John 4:18) And God promises, when we "put on" love, we are bound together in perfect harmony. And that's a promise worth holding onto!

True, unconditional love is the single best gift we can give, as demonstrated 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ Himself. When we put conditions on the love we give to our spouse or our kids, we limit God because we aren't allowing Him to work through us. By releasing our fears to God and loving selflessly, we open the door to abundance in all areas of our lives.

Let's see how Dan and Susan's scene plays out …

* * *

"I love you but I don't know how you put up with me. I can be so unappreciative and critical sometimes. You are an awesome husband and I don't tell you that nearly enough." Susan walks over to Dan and wraps her arms around him.

Dan decides he may take off his sweater. It's getting warmer already.

*All Bible quotes from New Living Translation
Lynda Schab is a FaithWriters member and freelance writer who resides in Michigan with her husband and two children. You can contact Lynda via the Letters page of this magazine.
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