I can do this because conditions do exist on my love…

becoming ourselves

Part of the the Heart & the Law collection

There’s something I’ve said quite a few times in the past year that I think is hard to hear, especially hard to believe, when the natural course of human interaction uncovers so many disagreements, annoyances, nagging worries, disappointments… But when I say it, I’m hinting at something more profound than the simple meaning of the few words assembled into either of these phrases.


When I’ve said it, I didn’t say nothing you could do would ever upset me or hurt me. I didn’t say I’d look the other way at your faults, at deception or dishonesty. And I didn’t say everything you could do would be okay.

Yet that’s what the words could mean. That I love you unconditionally. But what is unconditional love? Is it total acceptance? Is it loving someone even though they hurt you, even though they make you feel miserable when they’re around?

Loving someone without regard for yourself… I don’t think that’s love at all.

The true gift of the heart is compassion, our ability to see others as part of us, to understand and appreciate both their joy and their pain. But compassion is neither foolish nor blind; our wisdom directs and guides our heart. The union of heart and law produces love that encourages self-acceptance and growth, that embraces each others’ faults and fosters each others’ evolution.

I can love even those parts of you that you don’t like, that I don’t understand, or that are difficult for me, because I accept you as a whole being. I understand that the sum of you is much greater than the assembled atoms, cells, organs, tissues, much greater than your day-to-day actions, than your past experiences, and that I only know a tiny part of who you are — and yet that small fraction of your being inspires me to so much love

When I am acting with compassion and wisdom toward myself by understanding and asking myself if I can accept your faults and foibles, and by consciously choosing my path forward – then I am free to accept, to forgive, to cherish and yes – to love, wholeheartedly – every bit of you, everything good, everything bad.

I can do this because conditions do exist on my love.

When I free myself to go my own way if ever I cannot forgive or accept your actions; when I understand that loving another person is as much about knowing where my limits lie as it is about opening myself wide; when I know from deep within if I cannot accept and love the good, the bad and the ugly in you, you are not for me… well, then I can breathe a sigh of relief and smile and speak these words to you.

If I were to say the only the first phrase, you might believe that I don’t want or expect you to grow wiser, more compassionate, more into yourself.

If I were only to say the second, you could easily believe I am saying that I do not love and accept you now, telling you that you need to change to earn my care.

But neither individually represent the truth of the greater whole.

So I say them together, because together they speak from my heart and my head, out of compassion for both of us, and out of the wisdom of knowing imperfect people – human beings — you & me — will always have faults, will always be clumsy with each other out of sheer innocent ignorance, out of distraction, out of misunderstanding.

I say them together because I want you to know I love you-in-progress; I love this person transforming each day before my very eyes. I love the before and the after, and the in-between.

Even through difficulty, disappointment, anger, pain – just as it is easy to love in joy, lust, passion, excitement. I say them together because I know that if I could not speak them both truthfully, we would not be right or good for each other.

What are these things I say? To what few words do I give this much attention, do I explain with such detail?

“I love who you are now & I love who you will be.

I feel such freedom when I say this with the agreement of my whole being, because it offers something profound – my care, my love, my support – without asking for anything about you to change in return. But this offering doesn’t bind me to your service, it doesn’t stupidly ignore what I don’t want to see. No…

This is my affirmation that at this moment, everything I know about you, taken as a whole, is wonderful to me. It is my affirmation that I believe you will grow and evolve and become more and more you – more and more expressive of that indefinable root of beauty and wonder that attracts me to you in the first place.

This is my affirmation of what my heart really wants you to know, even if my actions and words at times sound unintentionally critical, even if it’s hard to believe because we make mistakes and hurt each other.


wish you were here to share it :)

I believe — because when I am living to my ideal I offer myself the same love, the same faith, the same belief I will become more me as I move through life. I am acknowledging the same seed of profound joy within me that I see within you, expressed in our unique ways through our unique individual forms.

And whether our paths entwine or branch apart does not matter to this kind of love, because its only condition is that the feeling behind these few words must be true. When they are not, whether we are together or apart, lovers, friends or strangers, there is no basis for love.

So as long as I can say this honestly, speak this freely, then the gifts I offer are yours, are mine, to warm us, enrich us, give us strength in times of trial, warmth in the dark slumber of wintry night, give us comfort in fear and sorrow, celebrate our victories and achievements, in the manner most meaningful to each of us, ourselves, and both of us, together.

I love who you are now

… and I love who you will be.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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  1. It’s funny—I never thought love was unconditional—never wanted it to be.

    I told my most recent ex tonight that nothing he can do now can hurt me—and I meant it. It was true. I stopped being so damn anxious about what we were or weren’t, and finally just told him everything I had held back. And I honestly didn’t care if it caused him to say—okay fine, done…like he did this past Sunday. I was willing to let him go because I didn’t want the relationship we have now—and it wasn’t any lose. What we had two months ago has long since closed—and we can only be what we need to be right now. And, right now, we need breathing room and the time to be in love with ourselves. It’s not that I stopped caring about him. I just started caring more about me.