Week 4 Day 2: Forgiveness

Week 4: My Relationship with Others
Workbook Exercise: My Web of Connections

Watch: Week 4 Day 2: Forgiveness
Who has loved you well, and how did that love make you feel?
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Transcript of Video:

I am often painfully aware of how difficult I can be to live with. I think it is really true in my case, I’m my own worst enemy and that can come out in all kinds of ways. One of the reasons I am here, and one of the reasons that I continue to remain here, is because this is one of the few places in my life that has both been able to, in a sense, contain me but also allow me to be myself, and to know that when I make mistakes, and I make many mistakes in the course of the day, I can almost inevitably call in expectation that my brothers will forgive me. That has been my experience over and over again. And I am not talking about a kind of cheap love either, because one of the hard lessons I’ve learned here is that there are consequences to behaviors and part of their forgiveness is knowing that and acknowledging that.

– Br. Robert L’Esperance


  1. Diana Samples on July 1, 2020 at 18:05

    My dad loved me well. His unconditional, demonstrative and unapologeticly protective love gave me confidence and made me feel safe. I wish every child had a dad like mine.

  2. Lisa Bartoli-DeAngelis on March 26, 2019 at 16:15

    I appreciate this message so much! As I think many of us do. When I think of who loved me well it is always my wonderful parents I think of. Sometimes it was a tough love when it was needed…sometimes it was a very compassionate love. But their love taught me what it means to love uncondionally and fully. They gave me strength and guidance. They are no longer with us in this world but their love lives on in my siblings and I. For them. For each other and to pass it on. I thank God for this.

  3. Sue on April 5, 2017 at 17:12

    Wow! Thank you Br.Robert, for your honesty, I find it so helpful in my own growth .
    My parents were not perfect and on their own journey but I felt they loved me without question, as did my ‘ nanny’ who looked after me.
    I liked the statement about forgiveness, ie the love and acceptance is real and based on how the person actually is. I think this goes two ways; I have met people who can’t hear feedback unless it is all praise- yet how much more powerful and growth producing to be open to direction given in love and acceptance! A lesson to me, to think about.

  4. Stan Lewis on March 2, 2017 at 09:44

    I have a handful of very close, intimate friends who truly know me. They are aware of my gifts and strengths, and they are also very cognizant of my flaws. In fact, I am able to laugh with them about those flaws sometimes–in a loving way. They accept me for who I am, and love me unconditionally.

    I would much rather have these few sources of strength and friendship that I can take solace in, rather than a large number of acquaintances who merely know me through my occupation or by only the strengths I have to offer them. I like being able to be vulnerable without any strings attached.

    • Chioma Nwaogu on January 26, 2021 at 13:00

      Acts of love can be viewed and seen from the perspective of works of people who have loved and continue to love me and make me feel happy, that I am cared for by God through all these ministrations of affection. I am always appreciative of the care and love I have received from my Mother, Father, siblings and some unique friends, who have always stood by me.

  5. Linda on June 3, 2016 at 10:16

    My mother and grandmother. They didn’t make me feel worthless when I made mistakes. Instead I knew they wanted the best for me and had a way of encouraging me to be my best. They could take something I felt bad about and make me feel good and hopeful and help me institute changes.

  6. Margaret on March 11, 2016 at 21:43

    I know that God loves me unconditionally and always will. Also all others who just delight to be in your presence in whatever mood or circumstance you are in at the moment. Those who show their Desire to be with you no matter what.

  7. Alan Rollins on March 9, 2016 at 20:24

    Here, I have to think of my siblings. They know all too well what an utter pain I can be, and I know it, too. They have helped me out in so many ways, but they didn’t have to.

    When our parents passed, I was afraid (there’s that word again) that we would somehow grow apart. Our folks were in such dire straits health-wise and financially for almost ten years; I am so grateful that we were able to keep our wits together, and come out the “other side” relatively unscathed.

    Unfortunately, I took ill, and was strapped, so my siblings went through it again with me. When I began to be more self-supporting, we took a break from each other. Slowly, we will come together again, and enjoy each other’s company.

    I hope and pray that I can be as helpful and supportive as my siblings were to our parents, and to me.

  8. NA on March 6, 2016 at 17:34

    When I think of unconditional love, I think of a place where you knew in your heart you were seen as enough, exactly as you were, and love as such. In my childhood, both my grandmothers lived far away, but there was a woman, widowed with no children, who came into our lives around the time of my birth and became my surrogate grandmother. Every time I saw her, I was loved. She lived in a historic house that had been in her family since it was built, and was where she had been born.

    During the span of one year, she had lost her mother, father, and young husband, and was all alone in the house. Instead of becoming bitter, she reached out to others, playing piano for an old folks’ home, doing things at church, and befriending my family, and especially me.

    We lost her too soon, during testing to see if her heart could stand an operation to fix it. And I still remember the last words she ever said to me, though none of us know they were last words at the time. She took my awkward, hurting, nose too big, hair too stringy, uncomfortable in my own body eleven year-old chin in her hand, looked into my eyes as if no one else existed, and said, “You…are…beautiful.”

    She saw the value in me that I could not see in myself, and that was unconditional love.

    Now that I am much older and am struggling with health problems, I am learning more poingnantly how it is to be loved exactly as you are, when you can do no more. My husband and my parents are picking up the slack of what I cannot do and caring for me as well. My husband, especially, is showing amazing patience and unconditional love to me in myriad ways.

  9. Julia on March 6, 2016 at 09:18

    Mom, of course! Well, all relationships are complicated, but it was pretty close. And I think of that love often though she has been dead for almost 20 years.

  10. Dr Colin Forbes on March 5, 2016 at 16:03

    My wife f 60 years -in 2 months- loves me unconditionally. Even now that she is in the mid stages of dementia. I hold her hand at least twice a day and I tell her that I love her very much. She always squeezes my hand and replies ” I love you too” Feels good !

  11. Jane on March 5, 2016 at 11:37

    Dear Br. Robert, thanks for what you shared about finding a place where you are accepted for who you are. I have been so fortunate to have been loved unconditionally all my life, first by my parents and siblings and then by my husband. But like a fish in water, I wasn’t really aware of and didn’t fully appreciate the power of this love in my life until I was a young adult did something that I thought was unforgivable, and was forgiven. I will always be grateful for that love, and for how others have taught me to love, and for the opportunity I’ve had to give that kind of love to others.

  12. Mike on March 5, 2016 at 11:13

    My mother and I had a bond which ran much deeper than I could have realized when she was alive. For three years after her death I would cry any time I would talk about her with someone else. I’m not sure there is any true unconditional love except from God. In my mother’s case, I was hr favorite. I held a special place in her heart and eventually mirrored her compassion, love of literature and the softness in life and took on her resistance to my father’s domination and self-centeredness. So my price for the bond with my mother was being in conflict with my dad, which only resolved itself after mother’s death.

  13. Mike J. Quinn on March 3, 2016 at 12:14

    I’ve been following your posts for a few days and they make me feel kind of uncomfortable. Why, I ask. I think of myself as a loving person and as one who has been loved. But most of the love we experience in life is not unconditional love but a conditioned love. Even the love of our parents, to my mind, is or was a conditioned love. An unconditional love is one that accepts you completely, as you are and as you are not; as you could be or might be and even as you will be. Such is God’s love for the best and worst of us, feeling sorrow and grief for our crimes and sins, feeling joy in our good deeds, blessing us no matter what we do or say or feel. I don’t know that we human beings, no matter how highly evolved, can love without conditions. It’s just in our nature to love with conditions. Love is good whether with conditions or without them.

  14. Debbie McMahon on March 3, 2016 at 06:44

    I was grown before realizing that my parents loved me unconditionally, but I see now. My great-grandmother had that gift of unconditional love for all, a fine example of Christian love and faith. She always seemed to me to have a magical quality which I know now to be the Holy Spirit. At 46, I learned the meaning and experienced, for the first time, what I knew to be unconditional love. When I met my dear husband. What a revelation! Someone could and would put me first, someone could love me for exactly who I am. Someone could lead me into the mystery of strong faith and God’s love and accompany me on the journey. What an incredible awareness in a life that had been marked with conditions.

  15. Donald Sutton III on March 2, 2016 at 13:50

    I feel loved by family, friends, the church community I am involved with and the Brothers of BSG. Its great to have so many people that love you for who you are and that has helped me get past those that think I should change a part of me that is me. I feel very blessed by God in this area of life.

  16. Claire on March 2, 2016 at 10:45

    I am fortunate to have been raised by parents who understood love at its best and not without consequences as you mentioned. I continue to have support from a large family and a large church community in which I work and move and have my being. My prayer is to extend the same to all I encounter.

  17. Robert on March 1, 2016 at 20:09

    I’m trying to be clear what “unconditional” means. If it means blind love, I don’t want or expect that. I grew up with a loving mother and loving aunts and grandmother not far away. I think they were aware that I was not perfect and could see my limitations, but loved me anyway and knew how to demonstrate it. My father was quite strict and critical, but I knew he loved me though he had trouble expressing it. I felt safe in that love. Since then, I have been blessed with a loving wife, children, grandchildren, and many loving friends. The great thing about that love is that we all love one another with eyes wide open.

  18. Muriel Akam on March 1, 2016 at 11:04

    My parents, siblings, maternal Grandmother , children , and my grandsons love me unconditionally and my two dogs did too! Sometimes I am utterly amazed at the understanding that my children have . I love them unconditionally too but it hard not to be disappointed when expectations are not reached.When I was ill (with cancer) I did not receive as much help/support as I expected from some of them and felt hurt but I am over that now and living/loving in the present. That helped me in a way to get on with things and be active and so I see it as a positive. God works mysteriously.

  19. Eugene Wright on March 1, 2016 at 01:37

    God, Jesus Christ do love me unconditionally. My Parents and My Grand mother all loved me unconditionally. My Brother as well loves me unconditionally.
    I feel very blessed that I have been loved and I am loved.

  20. Stan on February 29, 2016 at 22:26

    As with so many who have replied, my parents loved me unconditionally, as the did my two sisters. We were a loving family, very accepting, supportive, and encouraging. Yet we did not cling to each other. We were very loving, yet independent.

    Since we all grew up this way, it was all we knew. As I entered my own adult life, I guess I just sort of expected unconditional love to happen automatically. Of course it didn’t. In my mid-40s with my second marriage crumbled and slowly falling down around me, I made a comment to a woman whom I had been corresponding with online that “I just want to find somebody who wants to be with me simply because she wants to be with me.” Her answer was “Stanley, you need a puppy”.

    Well, I found that kind of love without looking. All right, maybe I was, but I didn’t realize it. I just went for a hike in the woods one day, and there she was. And it was immediate. No question about it, we were made for each other. This kind of unconditional love we have for each other is more amazing than anything you’ll ever see in the movies, yet, 16 years later, it continues to grow.

    How does this feel? It completely blows my mind. It can’t really be happening, yet it can’t be any other way. No conditions. She just wants to be with me because she wants to be with me. She loves me. And I her. Unconditionally. And everybody who knows us can feel the power of that love. Amazing …

  21. gwedhen nicholas on February 29, 2016 at 22:02

    My parents love me unconditionally. This makes me feel secure, and able to be my own person. They do things for me that don’t have any advantage to themselves. This makes me feel their love for me. I should also say that God loves me unconditionally. I feel His love too, surrounding and filling me. I was once at a convent and during one of the offices I felt Gods’ Love so strongly that I had to leave the chapel. The Reverend Mother came after me to make sure I was alright. She said to me that God must Love me very much. Over the years I have become less aware of that Love, but am re-discovering it now.I am a musician and I bring people to Love, or rather God through the music I play. Or rather God reveals Himself to others through the channel of me. I am a channel for Him. The glory is all His. I play better when I trust Him that I will play well. This is His unconditional Love for me, which then translates to others, and they i turn feel His Love and feel able to carry on. What a privilege to be so Loved by God.

  22. Susan Zimmerman on February 29, 2016 at 19:49

    …the Episcopal Church (for the most part) loved unconditionally…and the via media was ‘me’

  23. Carol Ward on February 29, 2016 at 18:41

    I feel so lucky & have felt that way all my life. There is no doubt in my mind that my parents loved me & my brother & sisters. I love my husband unconditionally & thank God, he loves me too. My kids love me & I them. Not so much from other family members who I am not sure love themselves enough to have any to spare. It just seems that until you are ‘right’ with yourself, you are not able to receive or give unconditional love.

  24. Pam on February 29, 2016 at 15:32

    God and my dog have loved me unconditionally. How did it make me feel? Beloved and healed.

  25. Carol Barker on February 29, 2016 at 15:05

    Two people come to mind. First my grandfather. He was my grandmother’s second husband, and not biologically my grandfather, but I lived with them for five years until I was ten. They had had a daughter who was grown with children of her own, but my grandfather, her father, was always there for me. When my cousins told me that he wasn’t really my grandfather, and when I came to him in tears, he said, “I’m married to your grandmother, therefore I am yuour grandfather, and I always will be.”
    The second person is my husband, who has seen me through good times and bad, and still loves me unconditionally. The unconditional love of these two men has supported me in more ways that I can count.

    • gwedhen nicholas on February 29, 2016 at 22:05

      Oh Carol, how beautiful.

  26. Rhode on February 29, 2016 at 13:12

    Unconditional love was my 80 yr old dad in the Netherlands harboring an illegal immigrant who did not speak the language – just a smattering of English. He admired my father, yet, I felt, was taking great advantage as my dad was giving him my support money. My dad championed this man all the way to taking on the Dutch policy of no papers, no money, no housing, no job. Caught in this weird conundrum – my dad explained to me unless he helped this man he would be living and begging on the streets. My relatives were furious at my father and me for ‘allowing’ him to do this. My simple father quietly managed to find a way for the gov. to return this man to his birthplace for new papers. It took 5 years of perseverance. Then he took on another man, much in the same way until betrayed with a series of escalating thefts felt he had to turn this person over to the authorities. This person eventually cleaned up his act and asked my dad for forgiveness not knowing my dad had already forgiven him and was praying for him everyday. My dad lived as Christ commanded in those last years of his life with an unconditional love regardless of consequences to his person. I might never match this love — but, I have God’s love, and my dads real life example of what love does and what unconditional love looks like.

  27. Kristi on February 29, 2016 at 12:08

    I truly feel that the only people capable of giving me unconditional love you are my parents and perhaps my children. Everyone else that I’ve come across in life including partners and friends place conditions on their love, and I suppose I do too. I think that’s part of human nature, but I would love to see myself change in that regard. My own value believe system can sometimes prevent me from loving someone unconditionally if I disagree with their actions and behavior. I would like to learn to change this about myself and be able to love someone completely free of any judgment.

  28. Debbie on February 29, 2016 at 12:05

    When you think you are the worst person in the world and you tell someone and they say. That is not bad. When you know this person is someone to avoid because they love to gossip. You know what you say to them will go everywhere and yet you still talk to them. Because they have a good heart. When you make mistakes and that person you have injured would rather forgive and try to reconcile the relationship rather than lose your friendship.

  29. Joanna Cotter on February 29, 2016 at 11:10

    My mother and father loved me unconditionally but also spoiled me, the princess, which makes me stubborn, sometimes petty, but always affectionate to family and friends. My husband of 56 years is my soul mate and as stubborn as I, which produces fireworks and passion. Our journey.

    • Dorothy P. on February 29, 2016 at 21:59

      Thank you Joanna for the reminder that stubbornness and unconditional love don’t have to be mutually exclusive! My spouse and I are both stubborn. His family growing up was perhaps more dysfunctional than mine, with his mother dying of cancer when he was just a teenager & his dad checking out soon after. Now I realize our dads, sadly, have a lot in common. Our mothers, perhaps also similarly in a way, loved us unconditionally (mine still does even though she struggles at times to understand the person I have become). My maternal grandma, the only one I really knew well, also loved this way.

  30. Mrs T on February 29, 2016 at 11:04

    My parents ,my children my sister and a couple of friends . I’m really fortunate thanks for the reminder.

  31. Russell on February 29, 2016 at 09:13

    Coming from a dysfunctional family system as I do, when I look back at my family of origin, it is difficult to find unconditional love. Closest to it would have been my maternal grandparents, where I had the wonderful feeling that my presence was a joy to them and that I could be included in everything they did. However, when my wife and I had children I experienced unconditional love. Our children delighted in us and met us with unrestrained joy and wonderment. And I could love them back in my own non-judgmental joy. I recall clearly imagining before our first child arrived that there might be some limit to the love I could lavish on my family, as if there was a limited amount and it would have to be sub-divided among multiple members. But, no, I found it unlimited in its availability. My being loved called forth ever increasing amounts of love from my own heart.

  32. Betty Donahue on February 29, 2016 at 08:57

    I have blessed to have several people in my life who love me unconditionally- my father, Aunt Eleanor, Darryl and Jack. Also my dog Uno loved me unconditionally and we had to put him to sleep a few weeks ago… I also think my son loves me unconditionally I am truly blessed. God also loves me unconditionally… I am not easy to live with and I am thankful to have all these people love me.

  33. Jeff Lowry on February 29, 2016 at 08:55

    The one set of grandparents I knew gave me unconditional love. My father showed me that
    as well. Although my perception of it was
    clouded by my mother. My mother loves me
    as best as she can. She was raised in a dys-
    functional family. She rarely drank but saw
    Co-Dependency as a model for parenting.
    My now ex-wife loved me unconditionally
    while she could. I modeled that uncondi-
    tional love to our daughter (my step) . I will
    model it to her daughter when I get to see
    her. I would to her husband’s children but
    they are not in my life. I have a couple of
    friends who show unconditional love. Of
    course God shares unconditional love.

  34. Sam Steward on February 29, 2016 at 08:30

    My mother has loved me unconditionally and always. This is truer now than ever as we grow older together. It has been my struggle to accept her unconditionally and this Lent, will be a changing point for me to better reflect her love she offers back at her.

  35. Len on February 29, 2016 at 08:18

    The only ones who have loved me unconditionally, other that God are my animals. My parents, sibling, and spouse all have expectations that I can be something other than what I am. My pets except me in that God-like way of giving love freely.

    • Stan on February 29, 2016 at 21:53

      What an astute comment! We all know that our pets love us unconditionally (as long as we love them too), yet we take this for granted.

  36. Bettie on February 29, 2016 at 07:48

    I never thought about this before! Thank you. My mind wanders from parents to husband (deceased 12 years) to God. They always loved me after the storm clouds passed. I go to God as the one true example. Does He get angry when I’m ungrateful or screw up? Certainly I got angry/annoyed when my dearly loved children didn’t do as I thought they should. God sets the example for parents! How blessed I am to be a child of God.

  37. Bill Spies on February 29, 2016 at 07:31

    Must say that my Dad’s Mom who lived with us when I was little boy gave me unconditional love. Today I understand that God does that to me and everyone else. We are each Beloved by God, not for what we have done Good or Bad.

  38. Bobbi on February 29, 2016 at 07:10

    My mother and father loved me unconditionally, as they did my sisters and brothers. We now pass that on to each other and to our children. I don’t say this is always easy, but this love is at the core of our relationship. I am very grateful for this grace in my life, and I believe unconditional love is available to all of us through Jesus.

  39. Neil Ellis Orts on February 29, 2016 at 07:07

    My mind goes first to my mother, who is now dead nearly 22 years. I’ve also come to understand that she and I had a particular relationship, that it was slightly different from what she had with her other children. Was our relationship, and what I experienced as unconditional love, merely a function of personalities meshing well? And does that, then, really become a condition?

    I do wonder if part of the human condition is to put conditions on love. We love because of shared interests or experiences and while those sometimes lead us to forgive more readily, they are the conditions under which we love.

    Or else, not having ever had the tight bond I had with my mother be manifest in any other relationship, perhaps I am unaware of ways other people unconditionally love me. Or my own conditional love makes me suspicious of others’ love. Not sure.

    Do know that I have love in my live, both received and given. I don’t know if I would say I feel the certainty of a place or people who will love me unconditionally in the way that Br Robert describes above. Maybe I do. I’m hesitant to put it to any kind of test.

    • Mryka on February 29, 2016 at 11:46

      I completely understand this point of view. I can feel that God loves me unconditionally in the sense that God will be there offering a sometimes difficult way out of anything life throws at me. I am not at all sure it is possible or even a goal in inter-human love. Unconditionally has turned out in many cases in my life to mean “as long as you see things pretty much the way I do and don’t try to do anything I wouldn’t approve of”. Kind of like my father telling me I could study anything I wanted – so long as I didn’t drop math (and since I liked math that was OK – but supposing I hadn’t?). I have also noticed that when other people start talking about unconditional love they are almost always about to state that someone else doesn’t love them unconditionally so they have to break off the relationship. I rarely hear anyone confessing to not loving unconditionally themselves!

  40. Paula Pryce on February 29, 2016 at 06:45

    Br. Robert, you never cease to inspire with your candid observations. One place I have felt unconditional love is your monastery.

  41. Jim V on February 29, 2016 at 06:44

    I have felt unconditional love in my life from my grandparents and my mother.
    In the case of my mother I screwed up bad a couple times in my childhood and young adulthood and my mother was there to support me, not judging, not scolding but true love and support and that made me want to do the right thing and be that type of parent.
    My grandparents always poured forth love and encouragement and made me feel like I could do anything.

  42. Louise L Kingston on February 29, 2016 at 06:37

    Oh my!
    So much to take to heart here.
    Thank you for this, Brothers, especially Brother Robert!
    from one who has long worked far too hard to be lovable

  43. Suzanne on February 29, 2016 at 06:28

    To experience unconditional love is radical. When I was in my early 20s, after having made a series of very poor choices, a co-worker invited me to an in-home Bible study. Rose, a retired public school religion teacher led the study. Regardless of the emotionally-filled challenges I threw Rose, she replied in love with scripture. Quickly turning in her Bible, she would share of how God would answer. No matter how angry I was, Rose countered with peace and love. She did not run or push me aside. Her eyes, voice and presence, while reassuring, pointed the way to a God I began to learn loved me unconditionally. Rose also loved me unconditionally. I offer thanks this day, 40+ years later that nothing, nothing, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

  44. Judy on February 29, 2016 at 06:13

    My father loved me unconditionally, which is one of the greatest gifts a little girl can have growing up. Because of that love I felt valued for being who I was. I felt secure. I never had to seek love or approval from boys, or later on men. If a relationship was making me unhappy or someone was not treating me with the respect I had come to expect because I my father, I had no trouble leaving that relationship behind. Hus love created an expectation, and because of that expectation I was blessed with good relationships with men, some of whom also loved me unconditionally, and continued to live me, and I them, even though the romantic relationship did not work out.

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