To truly be in relationship is a difficult thing. Our greatest desire is to be connected and intimate with someone and so, consequently, our greatest fear is that will not happen. This fear plays out in the many ways we throw up defenses that prevent intimacy from occurring. Why do we do that? Because we are afraid of rejection, abandonment, not getting the relationship we desire. Even when we have what seems like opportunity for intimacy, we protect ourselves from it to avoid risk. The risk is requisite to trust. Even in what we would call close relationships with trusted people, we activate defenses which prevent us from connecting.
At each moment, we are making a decision to either be in relationship or not. This could be called “turning toward” or “turning away”. Even if we make a decision to be in solitude, we can do so with deeper connection in mind, or to avoid connection and truly be alone. Furthermore, even if we choose to be near others, this does not necessarily mean we do so with deeper connection in mind. Sometimes, we choose to be with others in a way that breeds loneliness. In that case, maybe we are just using others to avoid real intimacy which could be better achieved in solitude.
To be human is to be broken and wanting. This keeps us in a perpetual state of needing and seeking. We get hungry, we seek food. We get lonely, we seek connection. We feel empty, we seek fulfillment. We are all addicted to something, and the deficits we experience daily cause us to be seeking our drug: attention, esteem, comfort.
Some anxiety is natural in this realm. When we are away from the One who sustains us, of course there is going to be some anxiety. And when we feel anxious, we immediately begin to seek security in various ways. We seek to have enough money, be esteemed by others, have all of our tasks completed, make sure our loved ones are healthy and safe.
The Presence is available to you all the time – to come in and quiet your fears. The problem is we are convinced that we have to do something special – be somewhere special, say something special, “do the right thing” – in order to get it. The thing about the Gift is that it is just that – a Gift. This is also the beauty of the Gospel: as soon as you want it, you can have it. It might take some practicing of the Presence, but what is more important and life-giving than that?