Unconditional Love and Sneaking through the Woods with a Toilet Lid

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Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Love in the Third Degree.

Everyone talks about unconditional love. Practicing it is something that comes naturally to certain types of people, and those types get really tired of lectures from people who don’t seem to believe that it really is possible. My daughter Shannon is one of the few people I know who understands this and can discuss unconditional love, even when we’re sneaking through the woods with a toilet lid under my arm.

A while back, one of my kids accidentally broke the lid to the toilet tank. Oh, don’t ask how. Just take my word for it. The lid dented the tub, damaged the wall, and broke into a dozen super-sharp pieces, but managed to draw first blood—which was my main concern at that time.

To my surprise, it’s not that easy to find a replacement unless you want to buy an entire new toilet. You can order replacements, yes, but you can’t always find a match and even a bad match isn’t cheap. This particular replacement would have cost me around $200!

“I wish I could find a replacement at a thrift store or something,” I told the girls in the past week. “There’s got to be a cheap one or one that’s been thrown out…somewhere.” I think I’ve mentioned it several times, but I finally said I’d go ahead and order one later this week and just be done with it.

Tonight, Shannon and I got some alone time to take a long walk and talk about events of the past few months, especially these past few days. We talked about loving people in a deep and compassionate way that goes beyond all expectations—by others and even by ourselves. It goes beyond romance or friendship or family. It goes beyond any hurts from the past. It’s just there, no matter what, and there’s a soul-level connection to the caring, no matter what has happened between two people. There’s just not a way to explain it because it’s not defined in a way most people define it.

Some people do love to lecture and demand that others feel and practice unconditional love. So many of these people don’t understand that some of us do, and that it’s not license to mistreat the people you demand love you. As a recovering codependent, I know “loving-no-matter-what” is in my nature, though I’m not sure if it’s because of my codependent tendencies or something else. I do know that it took a lot of abuse before I stopped loving some people and that others, I still do, in spite of some of the things that have happened. Unconditional love means loving-no-matter-what, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to be anywhere near that person—for my own sanity. I can’t define unconditional love as “expecting nothing in return” but more as “loving anyway, even if you get nothing in return or get hurt.”

But tonight our conversation while walking through an adjoining neighborhood was more about compassionate love than any other kind. That kind we could easily define, and I think our talk was more of a lesson for me than for her, though I’m sure she’ll remember our conversation.

On the last leg of our walk, Shannon pointed to something odd by the roadside, awaiting the morning trash pickup. A rather clean toilet, complete with shiny wooden seat and a cabinet and sink. I was amused, because it was so neatly left placed there and looked as if it had been scrubbed down before being removed from the upscale house. I cracked a joke and Shannon noted that it was too bad the tank didn’t have a lid.

That’s when I noticed the lid discreetly tucked under the cabinet—white, the right size, very clean, an incredible match for my broken one.

We eyed each other for about 15 seconds and decided yes, a $200 gift from the Gods. Of course, getting past the guard shack to the gated community with a toilet lid under my arm didn’t seem like something I really wanted to explain, so we took a short cut through the woods….

And that’s how my daughter will remember the night we discussed unconditional love.


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