Human beings are intrinsically social. Our rich and complex relational skills uniquely distinguish us from any other creature on the planet. Regardless of introverted or extroverted personalities, humans are wired to be most complete when in relationship with others. Genesis 2:18 speaks of the importance of humanity’s social origins when God declared, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Truly there is no blessing greater than the love of family and friends. And to know the gift of unconditional love is to discern one’s personal significance in a profoundly affirming way. Yet, as amazing and powerful as human love is, a deeper kind of affirmation remains even beyond its reach. There’s an inner restlessness within every person to know that his or her finite existence is infinitely significant. Saint Augustine articulates this cry of the heart perhaps better than anyone else, He says, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)).
While people search for such meaning in a variety of ways, most turn to the treasure of cherished relationships to soothe this aching in the soul. Perhaps this struggle is most difficult for Christians. For while we confess belief in a God who has chosen us in love before the “foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) we still don’t really expect this belief to actually work its way into our core identity. And so we fail to tangibly realize the affirmation of his love that is so central to our profession of faith.
Risking Surrender to Gain Significance
How then are we able to experientially encounter the truth of this confession? It begins with desperation. We must be willing to take the courageous risk of releasing others from the impossible expectations our need for significance imposes upon them. Only then will we finally be able to trust God for all he’s promised to be. Yes, we free human love to do what it does best when we stop expecting it to do what only God’s love can.
And in doing so, we empower others to love us more perfectly—no longer out of guilt or compulsion. This is not to say that God doesn’t or can’t love us through others but it is to say that our ability to experience God’s love—even through human agency—begins with our choice of light grip on those we love most dearly. Yes, when we discover the power of light grip, love’s flower will most certainly bloom! Next week we continue talking about the challenges, blessings, and opportunities of light hand.
What Do You Think?
Can you identify with both the wonder and limits of human love? How can our relationship with God help us in both of these areas?
♦ To see the poem this post is based on, click here.