With just one week to go until Christine and I are beginning our second Couples Connections program, I am drawn to the most difficult question of all. Why are we so captivated with the idea of relationship? In a word; it is love.
So; what is this love? The word has been defined as an emotional state, an intense feeling of attraction, affection and intimacy. But I really believe this is only the beginning of my understanding of the word. Wikipedia, in its definition points out that love is an abstract concept, easier to experience than to explain. I’m not sure that it is easier to experience but it certainly is an experience, sometimes so intense that a person feels they have lost all control of their senses.
When I experience love intensely I am convinced that a chain reaction of feelings is triggered in me culminating in an overwhelming sense of being fully alive and fully conscious. Some of the feelings I experience include; vulnerability, passion, inspiration, intimacy, longing, connection, value and worth. And as I experience these feelings I am conscious of an amazing paradox. On the one hand I feel that I am out of control and bordering on manic and on the other I feel an underlying safety and security, as if I have no need of being in control in this significant, profound experience.
Above all else, I know I want to feel fully alive and conscious and so my heart is crying out for love.
One thing that I am becoming more aware of concerning this profound experience of love is that it is a force. It is far more than just an emotional state. There is energy to love, a momentum to it that crashes in on me and impacts me violently. There is something so big and irresistible about it that I can only conclude that it is a power that is generated outside of self. I call that power God, (God is love) but feel free to call it what you want. When I experience the power of love it strips me of all my coping and controlling skills and begins to transform and heal me. I cannot encounter love without being changed by it.
Something that I am becoming more aware of concerning love is that it pursues me. The central question that I ask over and over again in the Inside Out programs is, “What do you want?” If there can only be one answer to that question, I believe the answer is love. I believe that love is looking for us but it will only find us if we really, really want it to.
I have to tell you a little story out of my own experience a few years ago at a Leadership Program. My good friend Graham Stonebridge was talking about his struggle with a paradox in his life on Sunday morning. There was a moment when he was sharing that I felt a wave of inspiration to speak into his struggle. I said what I said and his response was to leap out of his seat, embrace me in a big hug, kiss me on one cheek and say that he loved me and then kissed me on the other cheek and once again said that he loved me. As he drew back I looked deeply into his eyes and witnessed one of the purest expressions of God’s love I have ever seen. I was so taken aback that I shrunk back into coping with humor and said, “You better not kiss me on the lips.” Well, much to the sheer amusement of the group Graham chased me around the room until I submitted to his kiss on my lips. I was immediately aware of how this is a metaphor for my life. Love (God) is consistently pursuing me and while I desperately want and need it there is something that deeply scares me about it as well. In my simple understanding, I think what I am most afraid of is letting go of control. When I choose to surrender to this love it is amazing how I am no longer afraid.
And so; a couple of things really stand out to me. God’s universal love is pursuing me daily and more often than not, that love will show up in human form. I must not be afraid of it, but embrace the fullness of its experience.
I really believe that is the nature of the love that we desperately reach out for in one another and often experience in that significant other that we share our lives with. The challenge is to honor that love and to nurture it as a true gift. That is why it is so important to take every opportunity to work on our love relationships…so that we learn to honor and nurture that love and not be afraid of it. It is our fear that destroys relationship.
What do you need to do to surrender to love?