How we calculate value is something that affects us deeply. We ask questions like ‘why do you love me?’ We get people to evaluate our worth by giving reasons: you are smart, pretty, a good person, you show me love, you are interesting. ‘We accept the love we think we deserve‘ – The Perks of being a Wallflower – as if love were something to be earned. Measurements via things like KPI, or wages. I wrote about this before. How we see others/ourselves, affects the way that we treat people.
I’ve been watching some videos by The School of Life (you were right – they have quite a lot of good videos about relationships). Two stood out to me: ‘how to remain calm with others’ and ‘self-esteem’. For the former, we have to separate their intentions from action, like how we treat children. They may be mean to us because they themselves are hurting and we should strive to find out the root cause. (But I find that we can only continue to be patient with these people is because they are of worth, they will be useful to us in one way or another. Our efforts of being nice to them will pay off in one way or another. I question, what if there is nothing to be gained – absolutely nothing, not even intangible benefits – if we remain calm with them. Would we still choose to/be calm?) Or perhaps they are not hurting us at all, but we are just victimising ourselves, thinking that the world is conspiring against us and hence we retaliate. The second video questions how we think about ourselves, against peers, parents, what we’ve been told.
The heart of the issue:
I cannot understand the concept of unconditional love.
In that sense, I believe that we must do ‘works’ to get into heaven. Before you quote me things like: ‘Jesus is the only way the truth and the life’ and stuff about faith and works etc, let me explain. (This is what (most) Catholics believe, and I don’t think they’re wrong about it. I read about this on a Catholic website).
This concept was also questioned by a friend of mine quite a while back: If love was truly unconditional, would it be ok to cheat?
Since you love someone without condition, they could do anything they want and you would not love them any less. You would still show them love. You would be ok with them cheating, since they do not have to do anything for you to love them. It is ok for them to be loved by others as well. (Hmm, ok as I write this I feel that there is something wrong here but I cannot pin point the issue. Something about how love is expressed, the issue of cheating being a moral one rather than something to do with love. Also questioning the truth behind how much are they loved by someone else who cheats with them, wanting the best for them?).
But the former issue about needing to do works in order to get into heaven. By works, it doesn’t mean that you have to do incredible things, that you must do a great amount of ‘works’ in order to attain salvation. I challenge the concept of work, not only ‘physical work’ like almsgiving, helping the poor, being good to people etc, but other kinds of work like renouncement of sin (it’s constant emotional, spiritual work). I don’t think that you can be saved just because you believed in God and refuse to change your ways (I can’t remember which chapter in James).
Even beggars do ‘work’, even if the value may not be equal to their ‘reward’/wages (but the weightage is arbitrary, human created). Their work is by being present, asking for money in the first place, their work is being unashamed of having to ask for help, to make you feel better about yourself when you give them money. You exchange your money with them for the ‘feel good’ factor.
Of course in everything there needs to be balance. It could become an unhealthy perspective, thinking that you deserve nothing, excessive denial, unhappiness, being unable to accept grace.