Because of our culture’s emphasis on romantic love, we may be tempted to seek the experience of the Divine primarily through another human being. Somehow, somewhere, maybe deep down, we want our beloved to provide us with the ultimate experience of the mystical and magical.
In Marianne Williamson’s wonderful A Woman’s Worth, she reminds her female readers “The only beloved who can always be counted on is God. The ultimate partner is a divine one, an experience of ourselves that is totally supportive and forgiving. Until we know this, we keep seeking sustenance from men that they cannot give us. Most men and women today are wounded. The search for someone who isn’t in pain is unreasonable until we ourselves are healed of our own dysfunctions. Until then, we will be led to people as wounded as we are in order that we might heal and be healed together. What this means is that no partner can save us, deliver us, or give meaning to our lives. The source of our salvation, deliverance, and meaning is within us. It is the love we give as much as it is the love we get. The passion we most need to feed is our relationship to God. This is ultimately our relationship with ourselves.”
Most of us know the aforementioned thesis regarding the importance of finding love within to be true, but it bears repeating because it is so darn tempting to forget this truth (maybe especially for us romantics!). Looking for unconditional love, approbation, and acceptance outside ourselves can be a powerful seduction.
In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson writes, “Our desire to find one ‘special person,’ … who will complete us is hurtful because it is delusional. It means we are seeking salvation in separation rather than oneness. The only love that completes us is the love of God, and the love of God is the love of everyone. That doesn’t mean that the form of our relationships is the same with everyone, but it means that we are seeking the same content in every relationship: a quality of brotherly love and friendship that goes beyond the changes of form and bodies.” Further, she writes, “Often we think we are ‘in love’ with a person … we are actually anything but … The special relationship is the ego’s seductive pull away from God. It is a major form of idolatry, or temptation to think that something other than God can complete us and give us peace.”
This doesn’t mean, of course, that we can’t have deep, loving relationships with others. But, if we are seeking from that relationship something that we need to find in our relationship with the Divine, we will find ourselves, more often than not, in hot water. It is true, that our relationship with our human beloved may be a metaphor for our joining with the Divine, but it is not meant to replace it.