It matters how well you have been loved. It also matters how well you love. I listened to a sermon recently that quoted John Eldridge from the Sacred Romance. He wrote something to the effect that it is a rare person who has been unconditionally loved, or "loved for who she is…" The implication is that we are often loved for who someone else wants us to be and that this is a primary source of our sense that something is wrong with us. We sense that we are not accepted so there must be something wrong with us; otherwise the important people in our life would not want us to be something other than who we are. Even writing this makes me feel confused!
It is often stated that a primal or basic human fear is the fear of abandonment, the fear of rejection and isolation, a fear of being left alone. If you saw the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks you have a sense of what isolation does to someone and the extreme measures it takes to survive living only within your own thoughts. How often do we need someone to talk to simply to help us get out of our own thoughts? Tom Hank's character Chuck Noland ended up creating a relationship with "Wilson", a soccer ball, in order to survive. He had to have a conversation with "someone." It is a commonly held understanding that we are hard wired for connection to one another. It is how we are designed.
This should be obvious to all of us how important we are to one another. But like the air we breathe we take it for granted; until something goes wrong and we can no longer breathe in the air we need. If you have ever experienced even a hint of suffocating you know the panicked helplessness. The same is true for the emotional air we breathe. How good is the air of your important relationships? How do you love those most important to you and how do they love you? What kind of emotional climate do you live in? Are you confident that you will get what you need or are you afraid (even unconsciously) that they really are not there for you. Or maybe you just deny that you need anyone.
One of the "thoughts" that kept Chuck Noland going in his drive to survive was the remembering of his relationship with his wife to be Kelly. The memory of the love they had and the hope of loving her in the future helped keep Chuck alive and more importantly motivated to get home. He had what is called "emotional resiliency", the capacity to soothe oneself in the face of disconnection. Those who have been loved well have a basic sense of security that their needs will be met, if not now, soon, if not soon, later. They have a living hope that love is real and present for them. Is love real for you? Are you emotionally resilient? Do you believe that even in its felt absence love exists? And what form does love take? What kind of face does love have for you?
These are profoundly important questions that we all need to answer. Questions about love are spiritual questions and all spiritual questions are ultimately questions about what it is to be human. We are the presence of love that makes love real and we are most human, most truly our self, when we believe in and live in love. We are the form that love takes. We are the face of love to one another. What kind of face do you make?