When We Long for a Lover
Last week I wrote about the intense longing we feel for home, drawing from my experience and from stories we resonate with. Although it was brief, I also mentioned the longing for lover and it’s there that I’d like to now turn our attention.
Rarely do I meet someone who doesn’t long for someone else. As fulfilling as friendships are, most people I know or have met throughout my life aren’t satisfied with just friendship. We crave something more. We long for companionship. We long for intimacy.
The awakening to this longing strikes us all at different times and under different circumstances. I was generally an early bloomer among my peers growing up and remember the first time I felt moved at the sight of the opposite sex. We were in different classes at school, but I would try to say hi in the hallways or at lunch. Even though she never gave me the time of day, a feeling of enchantment came over me that I couldn’t separate from the sight of her.
As years went on and I grew older, the longing deepened and intensified. The names and faces changed but the longing remained. Did I long for a life-long companion or did I just long for those feelings of desire? What was I really after? Sometimes I wasn’t sure, and most times I made no distinction. But as years continued to go on, and I grew older still, I found myself in and out of relationships. And in those relationships I was hurt and I hurt people. Some stung less than others and some more. With the collapse of each there remained the hope that the next would be better, that the next would be climatic, the one that I was waiting for that would result in marriage, and that everything would then be made right.
But isn’t this what happens to us?
We travel through life fastening our hearts to the object of our desire believing it will fulfill us. All of our eggs are in that basket, but when it doesn’t fulfill us, everything around us comes crashing down. Then the cycle starts again. Something or someone awakens that desire and our hearts are fastened and then unfastened: fastened and then unfastened.
We might think to ourselves, “If only I can be with that person everything will be right,” or, “When I marry this person they will fulfill me.” And yet have you ever woken up next to the person you love most in the world and felt alone? Have you noticed how some days are full of passion and joy and some days the thrill is gone?
Each experience is marked by disappointment. It’s not that it was all a fraud, but that it was just a shadow. Relationships and marriage are supposed to be fulfilling, but they weren’t designed to ultimately fulfill us. If we place those expectations on the people we love or on our spouses, we’re settings ourselves up for great disappointment while also placing a burden on them they can’t carry.
The awakening of the heart’s desire for its mate, and the fastening and unfastening of the heart in that search, is all suggestive. If we follow the thread of desire and trace back our experiences, we can reasonably conclude that if no earthly companion can ultimately fulfill us then only an otherworldly one will. We are reawakened, then, and realize it wasn’t what triggered the desire in us that we wanted, but what that thing pointed to. This becomes the difference and the corner is turned. Instead of longing for a glass of water we long for the pitcher; instead of longing for the h'ordeuvre we long for the meal; instead of longing for the weekend we long for the holiday.
Through time and experience, through seeking and doubt, I have resolved that there is a God and that he has created each of us with a heart that only his love can satisfy. Not that we will ever know the true meaning of the word or taste it this side of heaven, but his is the only promise to overflow your cup and mine.