In my opinion, especially as a young adult, one of the most challenging and laborious tasks in our society is mastering true relationship. Here I’m speaking romantically or friendly. In both cases, there seems to be continuous encounters with others that are… well, awkward and just not genuine.
For some, there’s this perceived awkwardness of sorts, one that we make ourselves believe exists, but doesn’t actually exist… (if that makes sense). This could be avoiding talking to someone in fear of ‘leading them on’ or maybe they won’t remember you because the only time you talked was while being intoxicated.
Oh, and the infamous ‘turning the other direction so I can avoid small talk.’
We even try to mask situations with “moral excuses” like; ‘giving people space,’ ‘I like being alone,’ ‘I’m not getting emotionally involved,’ or maybe past hurts from others are too real and leave us with a hardened heart. And the sneaky ones too, ‘the fear of being humiliated, forgotten, or ridiculed for who you really are.’
It’s all resistance in opening up to others. We’d rather stay closed off.
While all such excuses are valid and reasonable for holding back on real relationships, it does have a downfall; it might begin to form emotional blockage. In this case, the heart is not being moved and expanded to its maximum capacity.
Even I recall being this type of way in the past. As long as I keep my heart protected, shielded, and free from hurt, it will be a guarantee I always be a-o.k! And this is the truth. Factual. I was always a-o.k. Yet my heart wasn’t growing as it should. Despite being o.k, I was growing numb.
We are made to experience relationships– all the kinds. What does that mean? Take the first step with others, initiate conversations, avoid judgments, say a quick hello in the random spots of our days, embrace and offer a reconciliation with someone that’s long overdue, have a heart ready to risk possible rejection, giving people a chance, experience the hurt, and offer your sincere self. Go outside your comfort zone.
You’re not crazy to find this hard to comprehend, and even harder to do. Likewise; even though I don’t know them, your reason for holding back in relationships are probably valid. Maybe your friend hurt you and did harm, or your last relationship left you scared of love. Unfortunately, one of the downfalls and wounds of civilization, since original sin, is the break of relationship. We have to work on relationships because they aren’t natural to us anymore. And each of us are broken and hurt in some way because of it. (Even at the expense of loneliness.)
With Christs help, we can overcome the wounds and this relationship dilemma. We can grow in relationship with Him too. In fact, to the extent we allow ourselves to experience a heart that undergoes an outpouring of love and hurts and rejections is the extent we understand and appreciate the greatest gift to mankind;
Recall a moment you were so incredibly and passionately in love with someone. Maybe you’re feeling such a way now. You long for the perfect way to show and tell them, to give a piece of your heart to them. And then when you find that way, maybe they have no idea the depth of what you just did. Maybe even showing minimal love in return, so far as rejection too.
During the last supper, Jesus’ heart is so full, so filled with compassion and love for his disciples (and humanity to come), that he longs to give nothing more than himself as a gift of love. He has no better way to offer his love than to make himself (and his love) available to the disciples as food and drink. The bread, basically his heart, is held out before them, broken and offered to them. Piece by piece. “This is MY body,” (my heart, my soul, my arms, my hands, my legs, my feet) all of me, my whole self “GIVEN up for YOU.” I love you.
Jesus knew he was going to suffer, he knew people would abandon him. Knowing all that did not stop him from loving (which, admittedly, would stop me and probably you too). He did not protect his heart and keep it safe. He freely gave it. In its totality– – holding nothing back. He even gave it during his last breath hanging on the cross.
He lays his heart out as a free gift.
And just like our efforts in love go unappreciated, we know quite well, others abuse Jesus’ gift of love with their sins and disbelief in his goodness.
Do not be afraid to love like Jesus. He is the way –the example of love we are called to imitate. Pray about ways you can offer yourself greater to the ones you love, the ones you’ll meet in the future (heyo, where you at future spouse???) and most importantly, do not forget to pray for the courage to love others without fear — whatever the circumstance of your current relationships may be, all its awkwardness and confusion. *Also, don’t forget about the effectiveness of clear and honest communication with others if necessary.*
To the extent you give yourself to others, avoiding the emotional baggage, you will be able to master the art of relationship, fulfill your relationships to new depths, cultivate virtue, learn the value of self-giving (the call of our very nature), and grow closer to our Lord’s likeness by growing in your ability to understand, imitate, and appreciate the mysterious love that is, the Eucharist.