1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?
I used to think of ended relationships as a failure on my part. I have a much different perspective now. I may as well state up front that I’m 63 and found Christ seven years ago. That has changed my perspective on a lot of things, including love. I was married and divorced three times by the time I was 45. I called it serial monogamy, but looking back, I can see I had this huge, damaged hole in my heart that no human being could fill.
Looking back, I think most people enter relationships expecting another person to “complete” them. I also think we look at who we hope people can become instead of looking at who people truly are and choosing to love them for the gift they are, or choosing to understand that person isn’t the match for us. I strongly believe we need to come into relationships as two whole people, willing to give and serve rather than wanting to take from one another. I think that’s what makes the difference between a “failed” and a successful relationship.
2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?
Now that I have my faith, and know that I am completely and wholly loved by God, I am very comfortable on my own. It took me a long time to get here. I still miss human touch sometimes – the affection, hugging and holding – but the comfort I have in the solitude and time I spend with God can’t be replaced by anything else. I have a peace now that is simply beyond understanding. And, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I do think we were created to be in relationships, but I have loving relationships with friends that sustain me.
3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?
There are many different types of love, and I’ve experienced them all. I supposed if I never had eros love, I would feel a lack or a wanting. If I have it again someday, I would be delighted, but I’m not searching for it. As I said, I have the love of God that fills my heart, and I have the love of dear friends. Those kinds of love satisfy me, fill me with joy, and give me peace.
4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?
I’m convinced that our only Soul-mate is the Lord. He is the One who makes me whole. No other human can do that. When I look to someone to fill me, I expect a human being with flaws just like me to be perfect. They can’t. I can’t. We all lack. The myth is that we will, at some point in our lives ever get our s*** together without God.
5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?
I don’t need to be anything other than a child of God in order to be loved. There is nothing I can do to have Him love me more. There is nothing we can do to have Him love me less. He gives me grace and mercy and invites me into His family. I may still have issues of self-doubt, self-worth, etc…, but if I don’t love myself, I am insulting my Father. He has done so much to bring me back to Him, my own issues regarding self-love are meaningless compared to His love for me.
Yes, love can mean letting go: it means letting go of control, of anxiety, of grief, of anger. It means letting go of a painful situation and giving it to God to handle. It can mean walking away from abuse even if it is scary; it can mean surrendering fears about lack and having faith that God will provide. For me above all, it means letting go of circumstances and staying steadfast in my love for Him, knowing that He will walk me through it.
6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?
As I tried to state above, my only complete fulfillment is in my relationship with the Lord. My relationship status has nothing to do with that. My hope is that, if I am ever in a committed relationship with someone again, I would bring that fulfillment to the relationship.
7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?
No. I interact with lots of people. I am in different relationships with different friends. You learn different skills along the way. With practice, I would hope I get better at all life skills.
8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.
I think this is worthwhile if it helps others understand that fulfillment isn’t acquired from another person. In my point of view as a Christian, we can’t fill our hearts by sucking love, understanding, forgiveness and compassion from another human being. We must be willing to give in our relationships with people. And the only one who gives everlastingly and fills us to overflowing is God.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6