My only child lives two thousand miles away with her husband and baby daughter. I often wish she lived closer so I could hug her whenever I want and observe firsthand the kaleidoscope of growth events inching my granddaughter toward her first birthday. And I swallow down my disappointment.
Last week my friend confided that she wishes she could move away from her grown children and their families, who all live close by. She reasons that the quality of their visits would improve if they could spend several uninterrupted days together away from the background noise of hectic schedules and everyday distractions.
It occurs to me that my friend and I want the same thing—a satisfying connection with the people we love. Yet if we each got what we crave, would we be satisfied?
Too Much to Hope For?
Chances are, if my daughter moved back home tomorrow and my friend moved far away, our visits with our children would still leave us wanting more. I would still miss magic moments with my granddaughter, and my daughter has a hugging limit. My friend’s children could spend days in conversation with her and still leave unspoken the words she longs to hear.
Do we expect too much?
We are not wrong to desire satisfying relationships. In fact, God wired us to seek out perfect connections, in which we can be fully known and fully accepted by another without fear and without conditions. He designed us to live in harmony with himself and with each other, but sin gets in the way.
We live in a fallen world subject to disappointment and hardship. Yet we continue to set high expectations on our relationships, seeking that perfect connection that will satisfy our soul-deep need to feel loved and wanted and valued.
In so doing, without meaning to, we set ourselves up to fail.
A Perfect Connection
As certain as death and taxes, human relationships must disappoint us sooner or later. Try as we might to love others unconditionally, we are limited by our human frailties—by pride and selfishness, physical exhaustion, cognitive distortions and fears, lack of wisdom, or sheer laziness. At some point, no matter how much we love or desire to do good, we fail to answer another’s need, and the relationship suffers.
The truth is, we yearn for a perfect connection that only God can provide.
No one but God can promise unfailing love because only God remained uncorrupted when sin entered the world. God’s desire for our good remains pure and steadfast despite our failings and all the things we do that would hurt and alienate our fellow humans. Only God has the power and the desire to answer our soul’s craving to know and be known completely.
We Need Forgiveness
Until Christ comes again to restore all creation to the perfection of his original design, we must bear the reality of imperfect relationships and flawed people. Forgiveness offers a way through the pain of our disappointment by pointing us to God. When we love and accept others despite their flaws and lapses, we show the imprint of God’s loving and forgiving nature on our very souls.
God promises a time when we will see him face to face and know him as fully as he knows us. In the meantime, we can look to him for the perfect assurance we need today and release each other from the burden of impossible expectations.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. —Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV)
What is the hunger or thirst in you that your relationships fail to satisfy?