Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is a person?

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, my mind going a million miles a minute, and I'm distracted by the onslaught of things vying for my attention.  It's an interesting concept, being distracted by your own mind, but if you have the stamina to read this post to the end, I think you'll get it.  But bonus points for you; I'd be slightly impressed as well.

The question that has been haunting me this semester, or maybe in more positive terms, probing me, is "What is a person?"  I've been asking this question in many different contexts: philosophy, educational psychology, friendships, dating relationships, true love, family, community at Wheaton, and ultimately, relationship with the one true and living God.  And although I should be writing a developmental theories paper at the moment, I'm going to share not an answer but simply further inquiry.

Culture.  Culture dictates that we hide our hearts or follow them into sin.  Extremes.  But what if we can live in extremes without sacrificing that which is life-giving?  I've never been one to hide my heart, but I have succumbed to cultural practices that do so, I think more subconsciously.  For example, attraction.  Girls are told, as my brother just reminded me, to play hard to get.  To not let your emotion show or be too audacious.  What is this if not a covering of our true selves?  Listen, I'm not advising that we abandon all discretion in worldly pursuit of a person of the opposite gender fulfilling all of our needs, but I have also recently found a moral dilemma in letting guys chase, only to find the chase in itself was more exciting than the end.  Because this is a facade; the chase is never more exciting.  To get to know someone, to look deep in their eyes and see a beating soul, this is excitement.  And the chase that guys often settle for is anything but.  At the same time, because our culture is bound up in this concept, girls feel a resistance to be counter-cultural; to make their feelings known would be to....gasp, risk vulnerability, a feminine quality I believe comes naturally to most girls, if they have learned to truly live. It's actually funny that I'm even writing about this, because many people who know me probably think in the back of their heads that I'm obsessed with finding intimacy, with relationships, but this isn't my intent.  See, God has wired each of us for intimacy, and I have a passion for relationships...I used to find my worth in them, but this isn't that.  My question is deeper than that of a young girl searching for love.  I've found Love.  And this isn't about dissing guys who love the chase; we all need a good adventure.  I guess I'm asking why.  What is it that's so enticing about love?

A person.  Is an intrinsically, intensely complex being.  There is so much research in ontology, in neuroscience, yet we can't even seem to understand how we ourselves think, how our neural pathways are formed.  Why then, are we so oriented to sharing our lives with one other person who we understand even less than ourselves, who we are sure to come in conflict with, be hurt by, and even risk rejection for the mystery, or idea, of intimacy with them?  I would say culture (movies, books, magazines), and although I don't think it could indubitably be proven that it isn't culture, I think culture also represents the destruction of love.  I can watch movie after movie about lost love and broken relationships, yet still find myself longing for it afterward.  I would say for the pleasure of it, but I know from experience this can't be all encompassing either.  Last semester I went through a difficult and excruciatingly painful relationship-type experience, and even though this guy caused much distress in my life, the only reason I ended it was because I knew it wasn't honoring to God and it wasn't really what this guy wanted.  I loved him, and I wanted him to be happy despite my own lack.  I would say camaraderie, or companionship; who doesn't like to have a bunch of silly similarities with someone who intimately gets you, inside and out?  But if this was the sole reason, then friendship would be enough.  We would never want anything more.  I would say for certainty in security, but this too falls short.  Marriage doesn't make us secure; it doesn't fulfill us, bring us unending happiness.

So then what?  What is the common thread that ties us to this insatiable desire?  I think for me it's definitely a combination of those things, but more than all of those, it's a desire to be more like Christ.  It's a desire to take care of someone, to be mindful of someone other than myself, and to learn how to be loved in return.  It's an effort to see God in that which is tangible.  Underneath the rush of hormones triggered in a guy when a girl brushes her hand against the back of his neck, or in a girl when a guy gently places his hand on her lower back, bringing her to himself, is an intuition.  It's a recognition that this person cannot fulfill your every longing and cannot empathize with every situation in your past or even understand the depth of your emotion or logic but that they're willing to try anyway.  They're willing to try because they see a shadow of beauty, and they are willing to risk everything to draw closer to the everlasting.  They're willing to try because they feel it too.

Heart. Desire. Passion. Christ.  We love because He first loved us.  And perfect love casts out all fear.

1 comment:

  1. Deep thoughts for a saturday, and it took me awhile to get into it, but this was really solid. I know you've been thinking about this a whole lot, and sadly, that thinking rarely seems to bring answers, but in this case, it really seems like it did. I've never thought of love in this way, but I think now I will.