David Benner in Surrender to Love says “the deepest ache of the soul is the spiritual longing for connection and belonging. No one was created for isolation.” He then says we attempt to compensate for our isolation through “people, possessions, and accomplishments.” That is, we attempt to soothe the pain of separation with the balm of earned recognition from what others think of us, from what we have, and from what we do. This never fully satisfies the ache because it does not address the fundamental problem of feeling separated and alone.
How many of us believe this is our problem? Do you feel isolated or do you know in your heart that you are loved, valued, and cherished? That you are or have been the recipient of another’s time, attention, and concern where you are more important to them than they are to themselves? This is the cure for the ache of isolation. It is love.
If the answer to that question is “no” or “I don’t know” then you probably question the power of love in your life. You experience a restlessness and agitation that might not always be visible but runs in the background like a computer virus gumming up the works and slowing down the system. Dr. Benner asserts that “to be human is to have been designed for intimate relationship with the Divine”. I believe he would also agree that to be human is to have been designed for intimate relationship with one another. That is, there are two great love relationships we must fully experience to be as we are designed to be; the love of our creator and the love of one another. The great commandments of the scriptures are to love God with all of your self and to love one another as your self. This is the dynamic of the cross, vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationship with one another. If the death and resurrection of Jesus are true, then this dynamic dance is foundational to who we are. If we are not participating in both movements of this great dance of love we are going to experience that virus of never being fully comfortable in our own skin.
One of the paradoxes of love is that you cannot fully love another without being fully loved yourself. One might think that would encourage a focus on self, but the paradox is that we only become truly unselfish when we have been totally and unconditionally loved. 1 John 4:19 says we love because He first loved us. Because we have been loved, because we know the reality and power of love in our life, we are able to love ourselves and others. It is when we have not experienced the wonderful and joyous presence of love that we become consumed with a self trying to find satisfaction and contentment in a disconnected world. The first order of business then is to be loved. But of course that is not up to us and that is where we become trapped in the striving to earn love. We know we need it, we have not experienced it, our soul aches for it, so we push to find it.
There is another verse in 1 John 4 that is rather startling and illuminating. Verse 10 says “This is love: not that we love God but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” It is not about what we do, it is about the love God has for us. We are all so driven by the failures of love in our life that we have great difficulty wrapping our souls around the fact that God loves us. This is the nature of love, this is the nature of God, to love us; He cannot not love us. We are loved and once we fully wake up to this fact life becomes a lot easier and simpler; the only thing that really matters is love.
Are you standing in the ballroom watching others dance, maybe resenting the joy on their faces? Do you believe that the dance of love does not include you? This is the ache of your soul yearning for connection and belonging. Listen to it as an invitation to the dance. We all have the same need and you will be welcomed. God loves you.