I love you, unconditionally. As long as you…

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…respond to my e-mail in a timely manner.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…call me on a regular enough basis.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…fulfill all the hopes and dreams I’ve hung on you

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…as long as I can live vicariously through your successes.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…lean on me for help in your failures so I can feel important.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…as long as you abide by my script.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…entertain me constantly and never let me get bored.

I love you, unconditionally.  As long as you…do everything I ask you to do precisely in the way I expect you to do it.

I’ve been told I have a big personality.  The fact that I had to be told this should so my lack of self-awareness on some levels.  Several friends have commented lately that I make people feel like they are the only person in the room when I’m talking to them, that I make people feel loved from every fiber of my being.  And if that is part of my call, it is part of my curse.  Because I also pick up people’s unfulfilled needs like static cling.  I am a hairy Christmas tree, walking around inviting people to place their hopes and dreams on me like gaudy ornaments. My, how those hopes come with strings of expectations, tinsel made of stone, lights strung with ropes that tear into my wrist.

How often we are told we are loved, unconditionally and completely.  Yet how often that “unconditional love” comes with a surprising amount of conditions.  You know this when you strain against the ropes and feel them digging into your flesh.  There is only one who is capable of bearing up under the hopes and fears of other humans, and those hopes and fears were laid on His shoulders in the shape of a cross.  No wonder in the Christmas hymn we sing “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”  In that song, it is an expression adoration and trust.  That same sentiment expressed to any other person is not adoration but cruelty, for we are not messiahs but fragile Christmas trees that will collapse under the weight of such expectations.

I know now, like never before in my life, the unconditional love of my Father.  It does not make me want to see how much I can get by with–legalism and not love asks the question “how far is too far?”  It keeps me close; it keeps me home.  And whenever I wonder out, even just for an hour or two, back into the arms of other lovers with their expectations binding my hands and feet and their embrace strangling rather than holding me, I am driven back ever so quickly to the love of the Father.  The one who says He loves me unconditionally, with no but at the end of the sentence.