Those of you familiar with my research know I constantly remind my readers people are more than cognitive creatures. Additionally, I argue with my fellow spiritual directors that the human body, mind, emotions, and relationships are essential components of being human as well, not just our spiritual selves. We’re not simply spiritual beings trapped in bodies. We’re holistic creatures created by God with bodies, minds, souls, emotions and meant to live in relationships. In this piece I want to focus on the relationship aspect of being human.
Created in the image of God, human beings were meant to live in relationship with others. God himself is one God, but a God existing as three divine persons. The Trinity is a communion of love expressing this love so intensely that we experience the three persons as one God. Three divine persons, one God, a mystery much too complex to discuss in this small piece, but one reminding us we were created to live in relationships.
As a therapist I often help people work through relationship problems. A daughter wants a better relationship with her mother, a husband with his wife, a brother with his siblings; all of these relationships have visited my office because when they’re broken they cause us pain. The one thing I try and remind the suffering party is a relationship is a “least common denominator entity.” What I mean is a relationship will only go as deep as the person who wants it the least. We have to come to terms with the fact some people are incapable of loving us as deeply as we want. We may love them more than they love us. It hurts, and it’s unfair, but it’s a reality of living in a fallen world. In these situations we either accept this fact, allow the pain from this knowledge to destroy us, or find healthy ways to seek the love and affection we desire. Sometimes we have to be content knowing we are supplying more of the love in the relationship than the other person. That’s okay as long as the relationship is healthy. Sometimes one person loves the other more for a period of time and sometimes that shifts as the relationship continues, but in the end we do not always love one another equally all the time.
A similar situation applies in our spiritual lives. Christians need to develop a relationship with God. God seeks this relationship and is willing to go to great lengths to love us as deeply as we allow. Sometimes we feel like God doesn’t love us. Because we use our human relationship experiences to understand our God relationship we often misunderstand God’s response to our needs. When we feel God is distant and doesn’t love us we need to ask ourselves what’s happening in our lives that keeps us from God. If a relationship can only go as deep as the one who wants it the least, it’s not God limiting the depth of the relationship it’s us. God is willing to go as far as he needs to show us his love (Just look at a crucifix if you don’t understand the depths of his love). The limitation on the relationship finds its source in us not God. Ask yourself this hard question as you spend time in meditation: “What am I doing that keeps me from having a deeper relationship with Christ?” You may find you can drink more deeply of the goodness of the Lord and be surrounded by a love we cannot get in other relationships if you simply ask God to show you what is blocking you from deepening the relationship and love He offers you in abundance.