Relationships present the opportunity to experience ourselves. In fact, without relationships, there would be no experience of a self at all. In every moment of every day, there is a relationship happening between what you are and what seems to be the world around you.
As I sit here in a café, I'm in a relationship with the chair, the coffee I'm sipping on, the keyboard where I type, and a thousand other unseen things. All of these relationships allow me to experience what I am. Even if I were to sit in absolute stillness and silence, I would find myself in a relationship with that stillness and silence.
There is constant feedback from relating that shows me the experience I'm having.
Why? What’s the Point?
Well, in one sense, it's amazing, isn’t it? We could even say it's miraculous. That alone could be enough to propel us into a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for this experience called life and being human.
But wait! What if those experiences of relationships seem to be the source or cause of deep pain and anguish? What then is the point?
Well, let's look at our relationship with fire. As a kid who grew up camping, campfires were one of the many highlights of my experience. I would sit there, at 5 or 6 years old, and be fascinated with what I was seeing. That fascination quickly turned into a painful experience when I tested the boundary of how close I could get to touch the fire.
I learned quickly that in my relationship with fire, fire is not meant to be touched. Sure, for a while, in my pain, I developed resentment towards the fire, thinking it had attacked me.
After my tantrum subsided, along with the pain, I realized the fire's innocence. The fire was simply being fire. It wasn't so much that the fire burned me, but rather how I related to the fire that resulted in my being burned.
The fire was being fire, and in it being what it is there is both an enormous value and a great danger; a great beauty to be experienced and a great pain. My relationship with fire, both in my fascination and my burns, taught me how to better relate to this miracle called fire. The more I discovered, the more I respected fire.
“There's great value in fire, where it can add genuine support and beauty to my experience. However, if I try to use fire in a way it's not designed for, I will get burned.”
Experiencing relationship pain is a learning opportunity that helps me better understand how to have a more meaningful relationship with the person or thing to which I'm relating.
As I continue to learn and grow, I become more capable and equipped to experience deeper and more meaningful relationships. The more I learn and grow, the more I increase my capacity to experience less pain or drama and more beauty, depth, and enjoyment (value).
The Relationship Challenge
The question is: “Am I willing to learn and grow through the pain, or, am I going to continue this fight that wants to hold on to how I think it should be?”
If I am not willing to grow and approach life with a degree of humility that is open to surrendering to its ways (the Truth), I will find myself in a constant battle trying to conquer life instead of aligning myself with it (with the Truth).
You see, there is the way Life is, and then there is the way we want it to be. The ways we want it to be, are the same as wanting the fire to not be the fire because – that's how I want it.
I assume that “If only the fire was what I wanted, then I could be at peace.” The subsequent path, in this assumption, is one of trying to make fire into something it is not. The more I try, the more I get burned.
In due time, there is an invitation to learn this lesson: instead of trying to change the fire, I need to change how I relate to it. I must learn to relate in a way that honors the fire, lets it go, and gives it back to life.
One way I often explain this form of surrender is by illustrating the difference between “trying to be God” and “letting God be God.”
This points to a fundamental challenge in our humanity. The experience of “trying to be God” is like assuming that Life/God made a mistake. Or, we could say that it comes from the belief that Life is not a miraculous symphony where everything is already in perfect harmony.
What it really comes down to is that we have missed the point of life. Our misunderstanding leads us to believe that life is about ourselves (who we think we are), rather than understanding that Life is about… everything. Life itself, as a whole, is the miracle, and Life is already designed or set up in such a way that allows the miracle to continue.
A Deep Reverence
As we examine our relationship with fire and grow in our understanding of it, we develop a deep respect for it. This respect is a sense of awe that recognizes the sacredness within the fire. This “deep respect” is to find ourselves with reverence for the fire, which is an extension of our deep reverence for life.
Living life with a deep reverence for those with whom you are in a relationship is an extraordinarily different experience from the one we've been conditioned to live.
We have been taught by a confused society that other people exist as objects. These objects are either helpful or not in our quest for gaining control over life. Of course, this reflects how most of us have been treated by other humans as we developed through life.
Maybe our parents wanted to control us in a way that didn't honor the sovereignty of who we are. Perhaps they feared losing control of their lives or feeling inadequate. Therefore, they desperately tried to control us. It's likely the same insanity played out in school, where the “authority” used violence and manipulation (withholding love), unless we did what they wanted.
There are ten thousand examples of how this might have played out.
Don't miss the opportunity here, though. What might have appeared to be a lack of reverence for who you are is also a teacher. In the most beautiful way, in my deep reverence for other humans to be other humans, I can have a deep reverence for what appears to be a lack of reverence.
There's a simplicity here, found through compassion for the lack of understanding. If we are born into confusion and taught a backwards way of living and being in a relationship, it would make perfect sense why I and others would act in the ways we have. It's not their fault, it's not my fault, it's nobody's fault. What it is… is a learning opportunity.
Once again, there is the potential for a deep reverence for the whole thing, the whole experience of life and being human.
This is a lifelong learning opportunity, and the best place to start is where you are. Within any drama, conflict, or painful patterns you might be experiencing, there are seeds of discovery that can help you take small steps toward a more conscious relationship experience.
Can we allow ourselves to see that even the pain is meaningful? Sure, we may not like it, and we may want to avoid it, but can we also see that within the pain is the learning that will help us experience more of what we crave?
The way to truly avoid future pain is by deeply understanding the pain you’re experiencing now. If we avoid the pain, numb it, or distract ourselves from it, we simply delay the inevitable learning opportunity.
There is so much to explore here, which is also like saying there is so much value, beauty, and enjoyment waiting to be experienced.
Are you open to it?
You can watch the Episode recording here: