Every once in awhile, a baseball player is hit by a pitch. Sometimes this is intentional, but often, it is not. Either way, retaliation nearly always occurs. The next inning, an opposing player is beaned, obviously on purpose. Sports are just one of the areas in which revenge is commonplace. Revenge is engrained in us; it is only natural to want to get back at someone who has wronged us. But I believe the world would be a much better place if we practiced the opposite: unconditional love. It is a love that is not earned or deserved, but it leads to happiness for both the giver and the receiver.
My belief in unconditional love is grounded in the ultimate example of the practice: Jesus Christ. Jesus, a sinless man, didn’t deserve to die a painful death on the cross, and I didn’t deserve to have my sins taken away. Yet he did it for me, and for everyone, out of pure love. Jesus commanded me to do the same when he said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Would I want to be forgiven, and loved unconditionally? Yes, of course. But if I want this love shown to me, I know I must take the first step. I don’t do this near perfectly, but it is a goal I strive for.
Showing unconditional love is a daily challenge. Take my friend Catherine, for example. She is boy crazy, and sometimes asks for my advice about her latest crush. Many times, I tell her that this guy is going to cause her nothing but trouble or pain, but she dates him anyway. A few weeks later, Catherine comes running back to me, hurting from a bad relationship. I feel betrayed and mistrusted; I just want to say “I told you so!” and walk away. But I continually choose unconditional love by offering a listening ear, rather than a judgmental tongue.
Some people might say that I am being used or shouldn’t do this to myself. But I know that to pour out love, I must consistently be refilled by something else, and that is God’s love. It is my strength and what pushes me forward when I am struggling. I can also continue to love unconditionally because I anticipate nothing in return; the results are not what drive me to continue. Lastly, I know I will never be able to show truly unconditional love; I can only try my hardest.
Imagine if the next time a baseball player is hit by a pitch, he responds by taking a walk or hitting a home run, rather than charging the mound. This self-control would be satisfying in a way that revenge can never be. When this attitude extends past the world of sports and into relationships, it becomes the beauty of unconditional love. If, as Gandhi said, I am to “Be the change I wish to see in the world,” then I believe I must show unconditional love.
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