I have been thinking about the transformational power of unconditional love and the impact it has. I sometimes see the results of unconditional love immediately, sometimes I never see the results, and then there are those times when the results pay dividends forever!
When I give unconditional love, I am of service to someone else without any expectation of reciprocity. I have no agenda other than to support and nurture the other person.
About six years ago I picked up a young man at the airport. He was homeless, penniless, and, emotionally and physically bankrupt. I brought him to one of our Transcend sober living houses where he proceeded to sit on the floor. I asked him, “Why do you sit on the floor?”. He said, “It’s a Jewish holiday where we mourn the destruction of the temple. I must sit on the floor and fast”. I looked at this young man who was literally on deaths doorstep and I said, “Not only will you sit on a chair, but you are going to eat a meal, too. The only thing God cares about right now is your well being, and don’t worry, if it’s a sin, then I will take the punishment for you”.
About one year after this incidence, the young man wrote me a Father’s Day card and in it he said, “When you told me to sit on a chair and have a meal, it was the first time in my life that someone expressed to me how important I was, that I mattered. It was then that I decided that I’m worthy of being sober, that I’m worthy of creating a life worth living”. Today, this young man is married, has two beautiful children, and continues to live a life worth living.
Who would have thought that by me expressing that God’s love for his children is more important than the individual commandments and that our well-being comes first, these words would have such an everlasting impact? I realize that it was an act of service to show this young man that he mattered and that he was important. These seemingly simple gestures can be quite profound for the person in need of kindness and love.
Sometimes, we are fortunate to see the impact of our good-will, to feel the gratitude of another. Sometimes, we do not. There have been times when those who I have been of service to have stolen from me, lied to me, and even worse, have died. In those cases, the person was unable to realize the full benefit and impact of unconditional love. Even in those situations, I feel that I was receiving by giving unconditionally to another. However, for the times when you feel like your efforts to do good don’t have immediate results, or won’t create the change you’re striving to make, it is important to have a community that can remind you of the mission. A community who believes that being of service is necessary, important, and impactful, and that, together, you are making a difference.
So, today and this week, let’s do something extraordinary and make an impact in someone’s life. Let’s be of service without any expectation, without seeking something in return for our efforts. Don’t just give the homeless man a dollar. Instead, acknowledge the man and ask him his name, engage him in conversation, let him know that he matters. Go the extra mile and take him to lunch, offer to get him a haircut, or buy him a new outfit. It may cost you a couple bucks, but the value will be priceless and the benefits will change a life.
-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community