A dear friend recently expressed to me his overwhelming desire for deep, intimate connection with other human beings. He made a statement that I always will remember: “Perhaps we all have a sense of loneliness…for when we wish to pour our heart and soul into another, it cannot be fully grasped.” It is as though togetherness and perfect mutual understanding are butterflies, beautiful ideals that disintegrate at the merest touch. Humans daydream of being in unadulterated relationship with other human beings.
We want to find that one special person that will understand us without effort.
That one we can’t live without.
That one that will make our entire lives fulfilled.
The one thread of life that will intertwine with ours and make us complete.
Our view of relationship is tragically flawed. We are not autonomously existing entities that weave together with other autonomously existing entities as we so choose, allying ourselves here and there with what pleases us, and disengaging subtly from what doesn’t. Neither are we only half of a cord, perpetually waiting for the one other person that will complete us and make us strong.
We are, instead, threads in a spiderweb. We are intimately connected with every other thread, and cannot exist apart from them. Only in community can we find strength, purpose, and commonality. We were created to need more than just one who has everything. If we were, would not God alone be enough? He certainly isn’t lacking in any area. What we need is all around us, scattered here and there in various personalities, worldviews, and opinions.
I used to think that the connections existed for the few moments of perfect understanding that exist in any relationship, when everything is right and good and perfect, and no explanation is necessary, and the channels of communication flow unhindered. I find that I was wrong. There is infinite beauty in the struggle to connect with others.
Even when we know they’ll hurt us
love us selfishly instead of unconditionally
and at times, ignore, annoy, and lie to us,
even then we must seek connection, for we cannot exist without each other. Humanity needs us just as much as we need it. We need each other for when we fall, for when we rejoice, for when we work, and for when we rest (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). Personhood requires personal relationships with persons (plural). Only in plurality can unity be found.
Perhaps, in a mystical finality, it’s not being understood that matters so much. Perhaps it is the connection itself that is the pinnacle, and understanding is merely the shrubbery that graces the slope.