In Bread for the Journey (Feb 21), Henri Nouwen writes, “Human relationships easily become possessive. Our hearts so much desire to be loved that we are inclined to cling to the person who offers us love, affection, friendship, care, or support.
Once we have seen or felt a hint of love, we want more of it.”
How true! When my insecurities kick in, I look to others for affirmation of my worth. I measure your love for me by how much attention you pay me; my insecurities make me self-centered—it becomes all about me.
But Nouwen goes further, “It is very hard for love not to become possessive because our hearts look for perfect love and no human being is capable of that. Only God can offer perfect love. Therefore, the art of loving includes the art of giving one another space. When we invade one another’s space and do not allow the other to be his or her own free person, we cause great suffering in our relationships. But when we give another space to move and share our gifts, true intimacy becomes possible.”
There are many couples at my church who I admire tremendously. They are together, but not possessive. We don’t have assigned Sunday School classes based upon age or marital status, so these couples attend different classes based upon the individual ministries that God has called them to, often driving two cars to church! When one has to work late, the other still comes to our small group meeting during the week. You are just as likely to find the wife serving on our Vestry (elected Council) as the husband.
There is no doubt that these couples are joined together as one under God’s eyes. But, each of them knows that God loves them as His individual children. They give each other the freedom to carry out their ministries together, but also separately, providing true intimacy.
I pray that I will be an example to others by not possessing my friends.