“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” Victor Hugo
One thing most of us are not short of, is opinions. In general, I am in agreement with many of the opinions of my friends. That is one reason that we maintain a friendship. There are other people in my life that are probably not in harmony with everything that I believe. It is interesting to experience a dialogue with someone who comes from a different perspective.
One of two things generally happens.
1. We have an engaging experience. From a mutual respect we learn from each other. I have friends that are more conservative than I am. We would disagree on some religious practices. But, we love each other. We were there for each other when our daughters had surgery. We were there to hug through tears of sorrow. We shared history, and experiences. We see beyond the current difference and nurture the areas that we agree upon. We do that because, at the core, we love each other.
2. I am shunned or dismissed because of a difference. The singular difference is so great in the perspective of the former friend that the disagreement becomes insurmountable. The disagreement may have been over who should be president. It may be over watching certain movies. It may be over church attendance. Despite the volumes of areas that might be agreed upon, the critical focus is on the issue that we do not necessarily agree on. My marriage of 30 years to a minister basically fell into this category. Despite the fact that we shared a love of reading, travel, dancing, cooking, gardening, riding bikes and playing games-the fact that I did not want to attend the ultra conservative church services was enough to dissolve the marriage.
The danger to a relationship is when you hear the words, “if you loved me, you would do……”. “If you loved me, you would listen to me….” Those are hurtful words of control and manipulation. They represent conditional love. A refusal to agree to disagree. In many ways that attitude is egocentric and calloused.
“If my love is without sacrifice, it is selfish. Such a love is barter, for there is exchange of love and devotion in return for something. It is conditional love.” Sadhu Vaswani