The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. – Thomas Merton
The Beginning of Love – The Union Series – Part 2
Thomas Merton said:
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
As in, we’re not to be conformed to each other, but instead committed to one another – that’s the unity part. Not the kind of commitment that makes one make the bed the same as the other, or put the salt back on the second shelf not the third, or vote a certain way, or believe a certain thing, or respond with certain actions. No. Unity is an act of presence, not similarities.
Something happens when you are so thoroughly loved by someone who doesn’t have to love you. Someone who has used their freedom to choose you as their person, and continues to do so moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year. The freedom to be and to become and to share yourself with another human being is the truest definition of love I know. But it takes work. It takes seeing the other, not demanding things of them. Understanding and learning, not pushing your own sense of knowing.
And releasing the other into their best self, not stifling them into yours.
Which is hard. Why? Because we're so invested in our own individual beliefs and ideas and habits – so devoted to how we make the bed (see yesterday's post) – that it's difficult to understand why someone we love would do it differently. When we’re sharing a home and possessions and money and remote controls and a bed and a bathroom; when we live in such intimacy and vulnerability, it’s tempting to think that things would be more peaceful, calmer and efficient if we also shared all the same principles and behaviors.
But conformity breeds a beige colored, soulless, life; a marriage built on doormats and conformity. A blend of colors is always risky and messy at first, but over time and with patience, it makes beautiful art.
So how do you do it? How do you blend two lives together without crashing into resentment? How do you “live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart? (1 Cor 1:10 TPT.)
I'm asking you. How do YOU do it? What works for YOU and your partner? There is no one way to build a life together; there is only the work and the love that exists in such a profoundly auspicious and hopeful endeavor.
And here’s the thing, you ARE free.
Free to surrender your expectations and habits and demands.
Free to see the one you love in all their individual glory.
Free to celebrate their quirks and ideals and politics, even if they’re different to yours.
You’re free to remake the bed, and you're free to let it be.
You are free to be you and free to let the one you love be them.
This is where love flourishes: when you can, as Khalil Gibran wrote, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
Rejoice in your separateness (individuality) and take comfort in your togetherness (unity). You are one, but you are also two. And there’s beauty in the tension of that.
Because the journey towards unity is one of letting go and joining in, bringing all our differences and color along for the ride.