This past fall I posted a blog entitled, “The Truth About Fairy-tales” in which I wrote about the Fairy-tale Heart of God. I mentioned the wonderful way that He created men and women to find relationship (friendship, romance, etc.) with each other. This is really a continuation of those ideas. Through some recent goings-on in my life, the Lord has been showing me, very gently, my own inherent need for relationship – and the needs of others for the same thing.
When I use the term “relationship,” I am talking about all kinds of relationship. We need romance as well as friendship. We need to care for others and also be cared for. We need light-hearted fun as well as wise counsel. As human beings who bear the image of our Creator, part of our design is that we both need and crave relationships, for they are the sweet intimacy in which we share our hearts and lives with the people we are closest to. And do you know that both the needing and the craving for relationship are good and healthy? It is only how we choose to meet those inherent longings that can lead us to dark places and down paths we never intended to walk.
Just like everything else in creation, relationships have been tainted by the ugliness of sin. Relationships often show signs of sin’s brokenness because they are the product of imperfect people. Abuse, manipulation, deceit, neglect, betrayal of trust – these are most hurtful when they are perpetrated by the people we love, the people who should take care of us. When we are hurt in relationships, we begin to shield ourselves, walking wounded. Left to our own devices, we often become angry, bitter, or jaded. We welcome self-pity and despair into our lives. And then, most dreadful of all, we allow that brokenness to seep into our spirits and eat away at our God-given identity. “Unloved, unwanted, broken, hopeless, useless, used, filthy, ashamed, guilty, dissatisfied – never whole” – these are some of the malicious lies that stain our lives when we let brokenness define us.
We then put up intangible walls to protect ourselves from greater hurt, not realizing that we are simply permitting our wounds to fester as we dwell in unholy, unnecessary agony.
Or perhaps your life has been fine and you’ve been surrounded by decent people. You keep telling yourself that you should be content, that so many other people have faced deep hurts that you never had to experience. Yet even as you tell yourself this, you feel hollow – something is missing, but you aren’t quite sure that is okay. In spite of every relationship you have, nothing feels like it is truly enough – nothing feels quite satisfying. You may think that Shakespeare was right: “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” – that it is better to be wounded than simply to live and love shallowly. Then, of course, you might feel bad for thinking such a thing, as though you were wishing pain upon yourself. My question is, why should you have to be hurt deeply to love deeply? Must others crush us in order for us to experience the fullness of love? Where is the balance?
In truth, I think we all carry both a bit of brokenness and a bit of emptiness. We find the flipside of fairy-tales in this paradox of longing and self-preservation. When we feel broken or empty, we make desperate choices, seeking to meet our needs for relationship through unhealthy means. Oftentimes this involves looking to people – or to one person – to meet all of our needs. We create false visions, hoping that we can attain the wholeness we seem to be lacking: “If only I had a [mother, a husband, a best friend…], then I would be fine.”
We reject that which is lovely and right about fairy-tales, and we cling to that deceiving notion, that fairy-tale discontent that whispers, “If I just had…I would be whole.” We forget about the endless Love Story written for us by the Fairy-Tale Heart of our Lord and look to people to be the source of our wholeness. The problem with this mode of thought is that it is both selfish and, ultimately, self-destructive. Still, our hearts yearn for the intimacy of relationship, and the desire to know and be known is so overwhelming that we are compelled to sate it.
Surely there must be a better way.
Whether you are wounded or simply feel hollow, the only thing that can bring restoration is our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, who bore every sin to ransom us from an empty, shattered existence. We still need and long for relationship, but we cannot meet it through people alone. No one person could ever love us enough or give us enough or care for us enough to make us whole. No person, regardless of how much that person tries or wants to do so, can fully satisfy us. And no matter how many people you gather around yourself, they can never give you all that you need. The truth is that we cannot adequately love or be loved until we know the love of the One who first loved us and gave His life for us (Romans 5:8). Because of sin’s curse, we need to first be healed – made whole – by Jesus in the area of relationship so that we can enjoy the happy human interaction that we so desire. We cannot have the healthy relationships that we were created for until we find our wholeness in Jesus, who will never fail us and whose presence will never leave us.
Jesus is calling you into His Fairy-tale. Will you let Him romance you today?