‘Unconditional’ Love [v145]

MARCH 2011

‘Unconditional’ Love

Just a few weeks ago, my brother Randy’s Schnauzer, “Tex,” passed away. Though Tex was almost 14 years old (on the high end of that breed’s normal life span), Tex’s sudden demise caught my brother ‘off guard’—and since my brother had developed a special ‘bond’ with Tex, it felt to Randy like he’d lost a ‘member’ of his family.

I noticed, based on talking with Randy and a few of my friends that, their animals become “an ‘integral’ part of the family.” Not being an animal owner, I wondered why.

Well, it’s been said that animals provide a ‘connection’ to nature in a way we desperately need these days. In the past 100 years, we have overcome the ‘natural cycle’ of light and dark with the incandescent light bulb, conquered the natural cycles of the seasons with heating and cooling systems, and most of us don’t have to ‘hunt’ for our food anymore, we just pick it out at the supermarket or stop by a restaurant. All that said, it’s possible—especially with the Internet, air-conditioned cars, and remote-control garages—to live for weeks on end without even ever having to be ‘in touch’ with nature (or even in some cases, sadly, with even people).

Pets also allow us to be ourselves—to let our ‘hair down’. We ‘confide’ in them, and they do not ‘judge’ us. They seem to be as much a part of families as husbands, wives, parents, in-laws, and children. Pets are fiercely loyal, and they will do anything, that is in their power, for a family member. It’s been said that, from time to time, animals rescue their owners from burning buildings, approaching cars, and speeding bullets. They make it possible for people who cannot see or hear to live alone safely [The headquarters for “Leader Dogs for the Blind” is in a nearby city to me: http://www.leaderdog.org/ ]. I read of one dog even learned to call 911 and saved someone’s life during a heart attack! I’ve heard of people sitting for hours and watching “Those Amazing Animals,” “The Animal Planet,” or some dog show on TV (and from my ‘marketing’ perspective, I am amazed on how much the pet food industry spends on advertising on these channels—maybe a new client prospect?).

According to numerous studies I saw dating back more than a century, interaction with animals has a beneficial effect on human heath. The “Center for Disease Control” reports that pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels, as well as alleviating feelings of loneliness, and the depression that can result. Not only does interaction with pets decrease stress and related cardiovascular illnesses, but caring for a pet has practical everyday benefits. Having a dog, for example, increases the likelihood of regular outdoor exercise. Daily walking is a known benefit for cardiovascular fitness, and having a dog to walk increases opportunity, not only for exercise, but also for socialization. Indoor pets also provide substantial benefits. A study published in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” reported that, senior citizens who own pets are less likely to be depressed, are better able to tolerate social isolation, and are more active than those who do not own pets, regardless of the kind of pet owned. It seems that taking care of a pet gives the owner a sense of ‘purpose’, and the ‘responsibility’ helps them focus on their pet rather than themselves.

But, maybe most importantly, animals provide love and ‘companionship’—things all of us need and crave. Dating can be frustrating, and family can be ‘grating’ on the nerves. Friends aren’t always available when you need them, and roommates almost always encroach on your ‘territory’. But a pet doesn’t care what you wear or if your hair is combed. They are always happy to see you, never ‘judge you, and love you no matter what is going on. Animals don’t get jealous, and don’t ‘compete’ with us like some friends do.

I found it said that, the only ‘family’ you “choose for a lifetime” is your dog (sadly, spouses, for half of us in the US, are not for a “lifetime”). From the day you bring a new pet into your life, that pet will consider yourself its family, and would probably go to the ends of the earth for you (I read of dogs laying beside their owners when their owners are sick, and if they pass away inside the home, the dog layed right there beside them until someone came!). Who else would voluntarily wake up from a nap, drop a toy, or abandon his food to jump up and greet you happily when you get home? (Not my kids, especially if they’re on Facebook or playing the Wii).

Pets, by promoting playfulness, laughter and affection, have been said to have a soothing and therapeutic effect on their owners. “Their presence and very essence reveal the life force, creative force, the energy and vitality that exist in all of us,” writes Dr. Diane Pomerance, in her book “Finding Peace After the Loss of a Loved Animal Companion,” “Even if we don’t find inspiring relationships among other people, we find real love, affection, friendship, companionship, camaraderie, and loyalty through the animal companions we adopt.”

Pets do not discriminate against others based on race, gender, religious affiliation, or national identity. They allow us to see the world the way they do—with curiosity and enthusiasm—and to wake up knowing that each day is a new adventure. They can remind us to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine from time to time, or to trust that God will provide everything we need. They remind us with their wagging tail, their ‘joyful’ barking, or their ‘delicious’ purring, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” [Matthew 6:34].

As humans, we exercise ‘dominion’ over animals by making life and death decisions for them. It seems only natural to most pet owners that the death of a dear pet seems much more significant than the slaughter of a cow or a squirrel killed on the roadway. Why is that? Is seems that we have come to ‘know’ our pets, to have learned that they have personalities, and to have ‘gained’ much from them.

Animal experts tell us that animals do have personalities, that they can be happy and sad and that they experience many of the same feelings we do, sometimes even more intensely. Jeffery Masson wrote a best seller on the topic entitled, “Dogs Never Lie About Love.” A psychoanalyst, Masson reflects on the emotions experienced by dogs from gratitude and compassion to disappointment and sadness. He even speculates about their “dreams”!

Because of this intense love and devotion for pets, when they pass, there seems to be a great deal of grief. People feel it in their ‘bones’, and feel it with full ‘intensity’. It is said that the heart knows no difference between the loss of a human and the loss of an animal. To people’s hearts, there is only pain—the pain caused by losing ‘someone’ we love deeply and unreservedly.

With all that being said, pets seem to try to give us an example of many ‘spiritual’ qualities such as: joy, healing, forgiveness, patience, courage, and gratitude—and do a great job of showing us the most important ‘virtue’ any human can possess—to LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY!

It is starting to seem that God uses pets to help humans learn about how to REALLY LOVE OTHERS—a model of love and loyalty that can help us grow in love and strengthen our ‘human’ relationships.

So then, the ‘bigger’ question for me is, why can’t we humans give ‘unconditional’ love to each other as pets do to us?

We humans so often love ‘conditionally’. It is ‘humbling’ to think that one of God’s simplest creatures, a dog, can love unconditionally. I staring to think that dogs show us a glimpse of God’s heart for us, so we can remember that our God loves us even more.

I found a sweet little song on YouTube about God and the dog (It’s by Wendy Francisco):

I look up and I see God,
I look down and see my dog. 

Simple spelling, G.O.D.,
same word backwards, D.O.G.


They would stay with me all day,

I’m the one who walks away.

But both of them just wait for me…

And dance at my return with glee.

Both love me no matter what…
Divine God…and canine mutt.

I take it hard each time I fail,

But God forgives, dog wags his tail.


God thought up and made the dog.

Dog reflects a part of God.

I’ve seen love from both sides now.

It’s everywhere, Amen, Bow Wow.

I look up and I see God,
I look down and see my dog.
And in my human frailty…
I can’t match their love for me.
[Wendy Francisco]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eNKUv6tyVo

So then, what IS “unconditional love”? Many would say the this kind of love is totally ‘selfless’—the kind of love that the “Golden Rule” talks about—treating others the way you would want to be treated (though that’s still a bit ‘selfish’). Maybe caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves” would be a bit closer (something that would ‘end’ divorce), or the love of a parent toward their child (normally).

All human beings require the tender touches, gentle strokes and the reassurance of ‘unconditional’ love. These draw out pain, provide internal security, and create a safe zone for creativity and learning to reach their greatest potential. A scrapped knee, a dead goldfish, hurt feelings…all made a little better by the loving care of a mother or father. A child doesn’t care how much you know, only how much you care—and that unconditional love tells them how much you care. This also is more likely to produce an adult that cares for others.

Connections with other people affect not only the quality of our lives but also our survival. Study after study find that people who feel lonely are many times more likely to get cardiovascular disease than those who have a strong sense of connection and community. I’m not aware of any other factor in medicine—not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery—that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death!

So, to me, love is intangibles like: feelings of security, acceptance, and affection. But, love is also ‘tangible’, such as ‘actions’ that provide evidence of love (not just a feeling or being in an emotional state). Love endures much and last forever once a relationship is initiated. When someone does the dishes (especially when not being told!), brings home a small ‘gift’ of thanks, does a load of laundry, changes the litter box, leaves a little note of appreciation, etc., that person fulfills what love is—a ‘verb’—it’s what you do!
 And the interesting thing is, it’s been shown that the more you give away, the more you receive—and it’s impossible to give away too much…nor can you ever receive too much!

But, in my eyes, the GREATEST example of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE was when God sent His only Son to die on a cross as ‘propitiation’ for our sins, and in turn, reconciling us to Himself, and offering us ‘simple creatures’ the phenomenal opportunity to live with Him forever, in a glorious ‘place’ where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!

Wow! That’s love in action! Actions do speak louder than words, or feelings, or emotions. Just like there is a definite physiochemical ‘connection between being loved by a pet and living longer, healthier lives, there’s also that ‘connection’ that little love can lead to a ‘shorter’ life.

Let me encourage you to ‘connect’ to the SOURCE of all UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, the God of the Bible thru His Son, Jesus—this ‘agape’ love will TRANSFORM your life! And after you encounter His love, you will never go back to the way you were. And then, you can REALLY LOVE others!

The Bible tells us that, after one accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they are “filled with the Sprit of God,” and they start to exhibiting the following characteristics, in increasing measure, for the rest of their lives:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:4-13].

Similar to us being the ‘parents’ to our pets, God is our Father in Heaven, offering an unconditional and unfailing love for us. He has taught us how to love [1 John 4:19], and put ‘examples’ for it on this earth with us (pets), so it would ‘behoove’ us to follow the examples given to us. In fact, it was Jesus who gave us a new “commandment” about living your best life: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you must love each other” [John 13:34].

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” [Jeremiah 31:3]. What do we need to do to ‘experience’ God’s love? Just RECEIVE it. Why? Because nothing can separate you from God’s love” [Romans 8:38-39].

The passing of a dear pet is a tremendous loss for those who were close to it, but the ‘pain’ will subside, and sometimes go away. But, the ‘pain’ of losing the LOVE OF GOD will never subside, and being separated from Him for eternity is an UNESTIMATEABLE LOSS.

So, if you have not done so, let me encourage you to simply ‘receive’ the FREE GIFT of ‘salvation’ thru Jesus becoming your Lord, Savior, and Friend—and then receiving the ‘benefits’ of truly being able to show UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!

[Excerpts from: Ryan Lee; Rev. Jean Niven Lenk; Nate Barbour; Tom Fuller; Ray Scott; Janie Behr; Dr. Diane Pomerance]

To investigate God’s “unconditional love,” then visit the following link:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q11_d5_4of10.html

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v145) for MARCH 2011

(Note: If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all will send it to me…

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HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocing voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast inJesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
[Sarah Sadler]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-KrIK0s1AQ

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THERE WILL BE A DAY
I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings
And the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end His word declares this truth
That we will enter in His rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears no more pain and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more
We’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone
Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace He brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced

To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery
This is why, this is why I sing

[Jeremy Camp – “Speaking Louder Than Before” album]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le-TG4sRRiQ

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SUCCESS IN LIFE
– Share everything.
– Play fair.
– Don’t hit people.
– Put things back where you found them.
– Clean up your own mess.
– Donít take things that arenít yours.
– Say youíre sorry when you hurt somebody.
– Wash your hands before you eat.
– Flush. (I’ll say that again for all the wives.)
– Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
– Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
– Take a nap every afternoon.
– When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
– Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
– Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup–they all die. So do we.
– And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned–the biggest word of all–LOOK.

[Robert Fulghum – “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”]

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DEEP THOUGHT(s):
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”
[Gilda Radner]

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.” [Fyodor Dostoyevsky]

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” [Anatole France]

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.” [Samuel Butler]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“To love unconditionally requires willful sacrifice. We can learn how to love from the example of Christ and get a refresher from 1 Corinthians 13, but to truly love so deeply that we begin to “cover over a multitude of sins” requires a life lived in daily submission to the will and lives of others.” [GospelNet].

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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One Response to “‘Unconditional’ Love [v145]”

  1. The ‘Fruitful’ Life | LIFE'S DEEP THOUGHTS Says:

    […] FYI: This previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post presented a more in-depth discussion about love: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/unconditional-love-v145/ […]

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