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On love…

January 13th, 2017 by Stephen Bauman

If you were to ask Melissa—to whom I’ve now been married for 40 years—she would tell you that I have a pathetic inability to find things around the apartment. In far too many instances to recount over the course of our marriage, she has caught me like a deer in headlights gazing into a closet completely oblivious to the thing I’m looking for which is right in front of my face.

In our first years together, she believed I was simply lazy, that I wanted her to do my bidding rather than look for the object of desire myself. But as the years progressed, I think it began to dawn on her that the more likely cause of my blindness had to do with a certain genetic deficit, that I actually had some sort of inability to see what was right in front of my eyes. (And truthfully, in the early days, I suppose I encouraged that interpretation even though it implied some mental deficiency.) I’d like to report this has improved over the years—I think it has—but Melissa might demur.

Of course, looking through a cupboard for a screwdriver or a house key is one thing; rummaging in the territory of our psyches and personalities is quite another. You know how this is—the person with whom you live sees you with a very different set of eyes than you see yourself. We may wish it were otherwise. We’d prefer our partners swallow our fronting scam hook, line, and sinker. If we’re lucky, however—if we choose bravely and wisely—we find someone who will help us see ourselves more accurately than we can manage on our own. Robust friendship does the same.

An authentically loving relationship has the effect of opening a larger truth about each person. I wonder if it ever works out well for the online dating deceiver. I suppose it depends on whether or not either party is actually in the market for a mature relationship. That requires exposure of vulnerabilities, especially those things we’d rather not see or admit.

There’s a paradox here. Honest love is capable of holding us as we are while simultaneously inspiring us to grow into a better version, a closer approximation of original design specifications. We can see this clearly in healthy parent/child relationships. But it’s the same for adult/adult relationships as well. Love functions like an emotional and spiritual growth hormone enabling generative and compassionate living. Would that we could take a swig every morning…

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.