Unconditional Love, God and Relationships

People have certain requirements for happiness. Most of the basic ones are already met and we spend most of our adult lives seeking out the last two. For the most part, people don't love themselves and they need something that does. Some try to find this in relationships, but people are imperfect and fickle. We spend our time pleasing them (and not ourselves) and are eventually let down. Alternately, some turn to God who they believe is not (imperfect) and will not (let us down). Another alternative, which few people actually consider is to just love yourself unconditionally. Maybe what we need is a big dose of "radical honesty" and a little self-acceptance. 
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  I go to the UU where there is a fair amount of Christian bashing which gives me a chance to live out my natural role of solitary iconoclast. Recently, I've also attended quite a few talks about the perils of religious fundamentalism (Islamic as well as Christian [it's interesting that no one really talks about zionists, and I don't think the buddists are much risk here). The Richard Dawkins lecture a few months ago at USC was probably where I started looking a little more closely at the more valuable elements of faith. Why has it existed in the face of a fair amount of scientific fact and why do people cling to it so desperately?
   In because in his book "The God Delusion"  Dawkin's is actually against theism in general, not just fundamentalism. I also have a friend who was a missionary and recently converted to atheism. He's been going through a bit of an existential crisis which made me wonder what he was now missing. This, in the context of my recent breakup have led me to see the true value of God much differently. If you look at God in relation to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, it's clear why it has such deep value for many. The biggest two are a sense of community (which I am not going to talk about, mainly because it is so obvious) and unconditional love. It's also interesting that God promises to provide all of the basic needs such as food and water and if he doesn't it's for a purpose so we should just suck it up and not worry.
    "Look at the birds of the air. They neither sew nor toil nor gather into barns, but you heavenly Father takes care of them? Are you not more valuable than the sparrows?"
   From a psychological perspective, God promises to provide it all. In our modern society almost everyone has their basic needs met and are really just on a life long quest for the last two.
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  A friend asked me the other day if I "unconditionally loved myself." My response was a quick "no." She asked why and I explained it was because I knew I was capable of doing bad stuff and I did it on a somewhat regular basis, mainly in situations were I acted impulsively. She gave a simple ying-yang type explanation and basically said you have to love the imperfections along with the parts you do admire. It's something I have heard plenty of times, but coming from her I didn't just dismiss it, I gave it a little more thought.
   Going into a relationship, I think a lot of people are looking for someone to love them unconditionally (in the way that I said I couldn't love myself) and they are hurt when the other person inevitably lets them down. I have seen a lot of girls post the quote "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing the imperfect person perfectly." Implicit in that statement is that you love the imperfections. What most people are hoping for in relationships is that they will be loved this way. They were clinging to chance that they might actually be accepted, personal failings and all.
   I think breakups are hard for this reason. There is a co-dependency associated with the relationship. Yes there is certainly more than this going on here (companionship, shared interests, ect). But at the heart of it, breakups serve to highlight personal failings and inadequacies. They also make the prospect of unconditional love even more remote.
   What I think is interesting is that after relationships, rather than focusing on giving themselves what they need, which is real love, people just look for it in other people or things. I think if you look at Christianity from this perspective, it's clear that it fills this void, and I think is a major reason for it's appeal (it's also why people are willing to sacrifice so much for it). What it provides, is what no person can.
   It's a story, of God made man, whose omniscience means he knows all of our personal failings (even those that only occur in our mind) and yet he still loves us. Given he's also omnipresent, he's also always there for us in our most vulnerable moments. It's the perfect mate. That's why it's so comforting. (As an aside, I am curious how many "Christian relationships" are held together in this ménage à trois with God, and to what extent does this shared (yet individual) desire to please God keeps them with their mate.) 
    The old adage "You can't love someone else until you love yourself" sort of hints at this. I think a more accurate version would be, you "won't really be happy in a relationship until you love yourself." I mean this in the sense that you won't be free to express yourself or free to disappoint the other person (by doing things you enjoy that they might not like) out of fear of losing that person. A person who has become the source of this love. God's love has similar expectations of behavior attached to it.
   Anyway, since realizing this, I have been working towards loving myself more. Loving myself unconditionally, along the same lines the way God is supposed to love us.