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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fulfillment in Relationships

"My soul finds rest in God alone..." Psalm 62

In this Associated Content article, I delve into the danger of seeking fulfillment in another person. In an effort to remain religiously neutral (thus planting seeds in the minds of a wider audience, rather than immediately deterring those who will not indulge any religiously-based writing), I did not fully acknowledge the role that God plays in our ultimate fulfillment.

Here is the text I would add to an audience of Christians:

Our ultimate destiny and fulfillment is God. We should be seeking that union with Him first, before we can be in a relationship with another person. Why? Because each of us has a “missing piece,” as Shel Silverstein alluded. We were designed that way. God made Himself our “missing piece” in order that we might seek what will truly make us happy – eternal life with Him in Heaven. Every time we try to fill that gaping hole with something else – food, alcohol, mindless entertainment, work, or especially a relationship – we will still find ourselves strangely and confusingly unfulfilled. It is only when we turn to God and realize that the ache we feel inside of us – the hunger, loneliness, emptiness– will only be satisfied in Heaven, that we then can give ourselves as a gift to another person in a relationship, without having to place all of our needs for fulfillment onto that person.

Christopher West, Catholic theologian who explains the late John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” in layman’s terms, wrote in his book Theology of the Body for Beginners, “…every human longing, every desire of the heart for love and union, will be fulfilled beyond our wildest dreams [in heaven]. That deep 'ache' of solitude will finally be completely and eternally satisfied.

“Experience attests that even the most wonderful marriage doesn't fully satisfy our hunger for love and union. We still yearn for 'something more’… Do not hang your hat on a hook that cannot bear the weight! If we look to another person as our ultimate fulfillment, we will crush that person. Only the eternal, ecstatic, 'marriage' of heaven - so far superior to anything proper to earthly life that we can't begin to fathom it - can satisfy the human 'ache' of solitude." (Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West, pp. 58)

Perhaps Christopher West and Shel Silverstein are sending the same message. Each of these two books by Shel Silverstein describes the ache we feel for a relationship, the difficulty we experience finding that relationship, and the tendency to lose ourselves when inside that relationship. Does the “Big O” in some ways represent God, telling the missing piece that it does not need another person in order to “roll”? Eventually, the piece finds its “PEACE” with the “Big O.” We, too, are destined to find that peace with God.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing that we should never get into a relationship at all! On the contrary, romantic relationships built on authentic love are a beautiful way to imitate God’s love for one another and give each other a foreshadowing of that ultimate fulfillment – Heaven – on earth. But as you are looking for your next relationship, remember this: Whatever person you find will not be perfect. He or she will not be able to fulfill you entirely. Look for that “missing piece” in God first, and the rest will fall into place!

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