I felt so angry and helpless when my son in law left my daughter for a younger woman. “It’s not about love,” I wanted to shout at him, “at least not that kind!”
Culturally we don’t have many tools for understanding how being “in love” transforms into the deep, tenacious, soul-bond of a long term relationship. Nor do we have many words for the profound effect on our psyches of getting to know and to cherish a partner intimately over time, learning their faults and peculiar mannerisms, their greatest fears and most tenuous hopes. In such a relationship we don’t “feel” love all the time. But we live it. The best we can do to describe what is going on is often those quips about “my better half”, copping to the fact that we really are completed by a union with another, quite ordinary human being.
Beyond that, we don’t understand very well how living into the challenge of long-term relationship can open us to a deeper longing – to the soul’s yearning for God. Restless with a spiritual need that isn’t met in our human bonds, we are fooled into thinking that a different human liaison will make us feel more content. Strange but true, the most satisfying answer to the midlife crisis is not a flashy car, a new job, or a younger wife, it’s finding our personal relationship to God through prayer. It’s about that kind of love.
It was not Jesus’ knowledge of the events in her life that made the Samaritan woman say to her neighbors, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” It was that Jesus understood what drove her. She was yearning for Living Water. He offered her the one thing she needed most. He offered her her own unique relationship with God – not in the temple or on the mountain but right there, right then.
The discipline of prayer will not seem to meet the yearning of the heart in the same way that falling in love seems to. But over time the one praying will learn that it is the more true, more satisfying answer. Drinking of the Living Water, one really does never thirst again. And that is the sign of the Messiah – that he knows this, that he guides the soul unerringly to God.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. To see some of her artwork and to learn more about her, go to everydaymysteries.com