Is this truly my reality
Or the most illusive of dreams?
Because I am living in my fantasy
Well, at least that is how it seems
The death of my emotions,
Has seen resurrection in your eyes.
Is this what I came here for?
Is this the reason for all my lives?
All the mistakes I thought I was making,
All the things I’ve put “Me” through.
It was worth my time in the darkness,
To see the light that resides in you.
This place in which I find “Myself” is uncharted in my universe
A place I’ve only heard of.
I wonder what I should call this place.
Have I found “Myself” in “Love”?
Ah relationships. Can I say enough about them? It’s what humans were designed for. It’s how we all got here and probably what takes us out. Well I am joking a little on that last statement. But as anyone who has ever been in love in the romantic sense can tell you, nothing can make you love life or hate life like romantic relationships. Take it from a guy who had been married three times by age thirty-five. More on that later. What I want to focus on first is what I am going to call “Big Love/Big Relationship”. This is the Love of all loves and the Relationship which makes all other relating possible. In the language I use it would be called the Love and Relationship of God with all of life. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he described this love as a bond to God that nothing can separate us from. The words he chose were:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)
Elsewhere in Ephesians 3, Paul go so far as to say that if we had the strength to receive this love that Christ knew so well we could be filled with all the fullness of God. Can you imagine that–to be filled with all of the fullness of God? Is it even possible? What does that even mean? Apparently Paul had some idea of what it meant and he prayed that those who heard his words would come to know what it meant as well.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Did you notice that in Paul’s prayer that he used the term family to unite heaven and earth through God? The whole family of God includes the residents of both heaven and earth. God is related to us all and we are all related to each other in God. This is very important to keep in mind when Paul indicates the goal of his prayer which is that we come to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge–a love that can embrace the whole family of God. For it is the one whose heart is strengthened to know this love that can be filled with the fullness of God. So what does this have to do with being “in love”? Well, what it brings up for me is the idea that this feeling of love that we expect from our family and that we often demand from our romantic relationships has its source in this love that Paul is talking about. Think about it. Why do we get disappointed in almost every single one of our relational bonds? Well from my point of view, we experience these disappointments because we are comparing all of our relationships to a love that we somehow know is possible even if it is beyond the realm of our experience. It is a love that passes knowledge.
As children, we enter this world with a sense of wonder and awe. There is no such thing as ordinary or common. All things are new. We see everyone and everything as a part of Us–an inextricable whole that is Life and Love itself. This last for a year or two–perhaps longer if our needs continue to be met as we have then. But as soon as there comes the perceptible space between our need and the fulfillment of that need we begin to experience ourselves as distinctly other–as something different and apart from everyone and everything else. And this is the beginning of common and ordinary experiences. Wonder begins to recede. It is no longer seen in everything, but only in what we have never seen before. All things are not new. Only new things are. And so we tire of what was and what is and we begin to long for something more. All this time, this more we are looking for is so close that we can’t see it. Our parents who were once seen as our heroes, become less exciting and rather than see them as a part of who we are, many of us begin to experience them as the very embodiment of restriction. Emptiness takes place of fullness and we begin our search for a replacement for a love lost.
For a time we will fill this emptiness with sense gratifications of every kind. But it will all get old. Toys we once “loved” and could go nowhere without will find a new home in a box or an attic and only be looked at when in the process of getting rid of things. Friends with whom we were once joined at the hip will find different interests. Success in sports or academics or any other venture will cease to challenge us. And at the end of some day, we will find ourselves wishing we were children again. We will look back and scarcely remember that newness of life. But somehow we know it is there. Our desire for it is proof of its existence. But the question remains, “how do we get back to it?” And the only answer is relationship. We need a relationship that fulfills us–that makes everything else in life worth it. We need new eyes through which to see ourselves and the world. It is through those new eyes that we will be resurrected. We will be made new. And so we look for those eyes that will love us like we need to be loved and will see us as we desire to be seen. Someone who anticipates our needs and loves us with a love that surpasses knowledge–just like we always felt our parents should have. And plus we get to have sex with them and accumulate stuff. What can be better? When this happens, we will know that we are in love.
That is what this poem is about. It is about that moment when we realize the we feel ourselves restored through the love of another–that feeling that somehow the love of another redeems all that we have lost through other relationships that somehow failed us. It is an intense feeling that some people get addicted to. Like drugs, alcohol, sex, and overworking this “feeling” produces a euphoria that takes us beyond ourselves and yet includes ourselves. In some way through this encounter we may temporarily feel like we even gained more of ourselves. In their book, Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt, note that many of the people they work with in healing romantic relationships, express how at the initial stage of relationship they experience themselves as having more energy and a healthier outlook on life. Some say they felt wittier, more playful, and more optimistic. They even saw themselves as better looking when looking in the mirror. On top of that, these relationships even empowered some people to give up other substitutes for gratification such as sweets, drugs, alcohol, or recreational sex. There was even a decrease in overworking oneself or living simply for accumulating money. At the height of this relationship, some people even radiated that good feeling out into the world and some even experienced greater spiritual awareness. Sounds awesome huh?
Unfortunately like with any drug or addictive substance, there is the inevitable crash as most of us know all to well. Some of us more than others. Speaking for myself, I can say that I absolutely loved my prior wives. I still do in fact. I though it was awesome when we were experience each other like we were high. And the fact is we were high. That’s what falling in romantic love is. It is getting high off of someone else’s affection. I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but if you compare it to any other activity that we participate in to feel better, very few people can refute this. And that is where I differ from a lot of people on this subject of being in love. Growing up in a household of divorce, I realized that I had a choice between experiencing our family situation as it was and accepting that it was the best condition for me as a spiritual being evolving into higher consciousness or I could continue to compare it to what I thought it could be or was “supposed to have been” and suffer needlessly. I chose to accept the variety of family situations in the world as just another part of the diversity of the mysterious Creation rather than assume an entitlement to domestic homogeneity likened to the Huxtables. Therefore when the high wore off in my relationships, I did not feel the sense of urgency that my partners felt. I was grateful for how long it lasted and excepted as a gift from God.
What I imagined, was that the initial feeling was a preview of what was possible if we each sought to understand the belief that such a feeling would last. If we could follow that feeling to its source, then perhaps we could access it more often. In other words, that initial euphoria was just a foretaste. We’d have to work for it if we wanted it more often. This sounds familiar to people who have ever been introduced to anything new–like drugs. The first taste is free. After that it is going to cost you. I know this might not be an easy pill to swallow, but unless you’ve experienced otherwise, I am sticking to what I know, have witnessed, and have experienced. But like I said, this isn’t the most romantic point of view and it was one my partners could not buy. They wanted to get back to a feeling that would never return–like we all do when we look back on our younger days.
Had I understood what they were looking for then, perhaps I would have done a better job of expressing my love for them. I failed there. As there partner and friend I could have done more to sympathize with their sense of loss of the dream that I would somehow make up for all of their other losses. Instead I said something to the effect of, “What? You thought this was going to last? Heck no. The beginning of a relationship is like being on vacation. Everything else is like working so you can go on vacation again. What made you think I was going to make up for your relationship with your parents and exes? I’m not God. I can’t fulfill you. How about I go to God and you go to God and then we can meet up somewhere as two fulfilled beings instead of trying to get the impossible from each other?” See. Not very romantic. In those first two relationships I tried to talk them out of feeling that “feeling” because I didn’t want to be a drug. But what I realized over time was that we could have worked with that desire together.
As I matured through my failures in interpersonal relationships, I realized what I mentioned above–that desire for this fulfilling love comes from a place in us that already knows what Paul was talking about in his prayer. We in fact were created by and through that Love. Without getting too religious for some of you, I think John said it best when he wrote that God is love and that one day we would see that we are like God. In other words, the love that we compare all of our relationships to is the Love that we are. We know that we can receive this Love first and foremost because we know that we are capable of giving that Love. Perhaps that is why Jesus taught that it is more blessed to give than receive. Because we are in Love when we give love. With that being said, know that I Love You and that this chapter is my contribution to you knowing yourself as Love.