Growing up I identified God’s love with my parents’ love for me. When I was ‘good’, they said nothing, assuming I simply ought to be good. When I fell short, they got angry and shamed me in a variety of ways. I figured that’s the way God’s love also worked, transactionally: “I’ll do something for you if you do something for me.”
Don’t get me wrong. My parents were great people who endured a lot of suffering and deprivation as kids. Yet I got the message: be better, different, ‘normal’, smart, and go to college or you won’t be enough.
After being bullied at school I realized God wasn’t helping me. Maybe I was doing something wrong or not being enough…again. This led to a deep isolation and loneliness for the next several decades. And God still didn’t seem to help.
I had been basing my faith in God, and my human relationships, on transaction to gain love and acceptance. I was hard on myself and on others. I became judgmental and moralistic. If I wasn’t enough, then no one else was either.
I was no different than the characters in the bible who sought evidence of God’s love in miracles, idols, and victories over enemies. Even though the bible spoke of God’s unconditional love, it couldn’t compete with the transactional love that seemed to dominate. The promise of unconditional love seemed to be a bargaining chip for God or the church to get something from me.
As a more mindful spiritual being, I now depend less on bargains with God and more on soulful power. Now I trust that the Spirit will eventually make things right. The Spirit of God living in me can bring good even out of evil. I’m less inclined to depend on outcomes and transactional love and to rest in the unknown.
Faith is all about waiting for reality to unfold. It’s not a ticket to heaven. That’s why many of us turn to transactional love, to get the quick ‘hit’ we need, the winning set of lottery numbers, to quiet the inner bully that keeps telling us we are not enough.
Unconditional love requires no evidence. It declares us a winner before we’ve even put down a bet. As we go easier on ourselves as ‘winners’ as ‘more than enough’ the Spirit has room to maneuver. We rid ourselves of the false god who is magician, benefactor, law maker, bully, autocrat, judge, jury, and executioner, all in one.
Don’t take my word for it. Read some great sources: Some of the psalms and proverbs of the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus’ teachings, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Therese of Lisieux, Martin Luther King, Henri Nouwen, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Rohr, to name just a few. They have distilled and concentrated unconditional love from the wisdom of the ages. And they all come up with the same answer: each of us is the manifestation of unconditional love in the here and now. We need to look no further. The great news;
- The Spirit within us sees us as whole, complete, perfect as we are. So what if we did too?
- The Spirit within us has our backs. So what if we detached from outcomes and achievements and lived fully in this moment, just as we want to?
- What if we embraced the “wonder child” we have always been, by shedding the layers of transactionalism that cloud our soulful power?
If we are one with the Spirit and in the Spirit then we already know what unconditional love is: it is us as living beings. All we need do is to stop putting up transactional roadblocks. No more ‘win-win’ spiritual outcomes. It’s time generously to make winners of others without expecting a reward or benefit. The Spirit knows what to do next.
Stuck in Transactional love? Let’s discuss it. firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 813-449-3904 My book can help: Life Interrupted: Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed ©2020 Michael Parise
It all seems to make sense. Thank you for sharing another great post and you’re thoughts. I’m very proud to have you in my life, and very fortunate.