12 November 2008

The Power of Love

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.
~ Pearl S. Buck

Recently, a discussion came up between Benedict Ambrose, Seraphic and myself on the subject of whether one should become completely healed of past wounds before entering into a relationship or whether the new relationship itself can be a source of healing. I promised a post on the subject and here it is.
Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be involved with them.
Love is not a bandage to cover wounds.
~ Hugh Elliott, Standing Room Only
A relationship with another person, whether it be eros or filios, is never a panacea for loneliness. That is, a person is never to be used, never made into an object. Entering into a relationship simply because one cannot bear to be alone is a recipe for disaster ~ not to mention it makes things exceedingly tiresome and boring for the other person. If you had a troubled relationship with your father or mother, trying to compensate for what you should have received as a child with your Beloved will not take away the pain and neither will it make the need to face that loss go away.

Nor, as Benedict mentioned, will the love of another person, probably as broken and wounded as you are, be enough to “save” you. Especially from yourself. John and Staci Eldredge call this taking your question to Eve (Gentlemen) or to Adam (Ladies) and it only leads to more heartache and disillusionment. Working through past wounds is highly recommended for two reasons: one, the aforementioned inability of any one mortal human being to “fix” you or "fill" you. Two, if your father always promised he would do X, Y or Z for you but it never happened because something (be it good or bad) got in the way, you may have a tendency to expect all men to promise but not deliver. If your mother was manipulative and domineering, you may have the tendency to view your girlfriend’s ability to handle herself well and take charge of a situation with distrust or you may simply retreat when faced with taking responsibility. Meaning: if you do not take the time to overcome those wounds, you will keep attracting the same type of hurtful people into your life.
Bottom line: human beings are not a rag to mop up your need with.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves
alone ~ we find it with another. ~ Thomas Merton
That being said, I do believe that “perfect love drives out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) What do I mean by that? If you have experienced love in an unhealthy way, experiencing it in a healthy, integrated way can only help your healing. And this I do know, having discussed this type of healing with a couple of friends who are counselors and psychologists.
Another way to look at it is this: if I have been lied to and emotionally used in past relationships, if the pattern continues, it becomes much more difficult to heal from the past wounds because the bandage keeps getting ripped off. But if I continue to work on my healing and I become involved with someone who is a Good Man (and not a Middling Man – see Seraphic’s great post on this!) then the healing process is sped up. Sort of like antibiotics cure the flu (grace, therapy) but eating well, taking in fluids and getting rest (healthy relationship) speed up the recovery.
We were not created to be alone, to work out our problems in isolation. We are social beings, made for self-gift and with an incredible capacity to love and forgive and grow. Pride says you do not need anyone or anything to help you heal. That is not love ~ that is, well, Hell, quite frankly! But neither are we meant to be lay-abouts expecting things to just magically get better without putting forth any effort at all and letting our spouses, children, friends, confessors, shrinks do it all for us.
No, the answer lies somewhere in between. Working out your issues in the shelter of the arms of a Good Man (or a Good Woman, gentlemen).

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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