See Part 1 of the series here.
2. “Life is about love…Intimacy is self-revelation: intimacy is me revealing myself to you, and you revealing yourself to me. Intimacy is to know and be known. But very often we don’t reveal ourselves…we hide ourselves…Why?…We’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us anymore. That’s our core fear…when they do come and say ‘I love you,’ in the back of our minds we’re thinking ‘no, you love the person you think I am…but if you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me anymore.’ And so even when people do love us, we’re not able to receive their love, because we haven’t revealed ourselves. What’s the opposite of intimacy? Loneliness…you can be in a crowd and be lonely, you can be in a relationship and be desperately lonely. You can be in a relationship that other people think is a great relationship, and still be desperately lonely, because you’re not known, because you either don’t have the ability or don’t have the opportunity to reveal yourself.” – Matthew Kelly, The Seven Levels of Intimacy (on CD)
So yes, we were created to love and be loved, and we know this deep in the core of our beings…but why is it so freaking hard? Why do we allow all the “urgent stuff” in our lives come before the fundamental purpose of our lives? Well, in our weaknesses, frailties, faults, flaws, scars, brokenness, and yes, sinfulness, we hide because we’re afraid to love and be loved, and Matthew Kelly nails it. We hide behind carefully constructed masks because of this fear, and in doing so we render ourselves incapable of accomplishing that fundamental purpose of love, of knowing and being known!
And not only do we do this with people in our lives, we comically and tragically try to do this with God too! It’s comical because even though God knows everything about us and is with us all the time, thought about us before beginning the work of creation, and knew us before he knit us in our mothers’ wombs, we still try to tell him that he’s unwelcome in certain aspects of our lives: when we go to Church, it’s all good with God, but when we’re at work, go out on dates, hang out with friends, watch movies/TV, go on the Internet, etc. we tell God to butt out. Or, because of bad decisions we’ve made in the past in certain aspects of our lives, we feel ashamed and we hide from Him. What’s tragic about this is he loves us perfectly; really, He does, and He wants us to experience joy and happiness in our lives, and in the new life to come!
And so, because we hide and cut ourselves off from receiving the love of God and of others, we become lonely. Mother Teresa once said that though she served among the poorest of the poor and bore witness to their poverty, those in developed nations suffer another type of poverty: a poverty of love. In my life I’ve witnessed this in people around me…and I myself have felt the desperate pain of loneliness. I know what it is to feel unworthy of love, to be hurt, to hide myself, and sink into loneliness. This experience of loneliness can drive us into despair, cause us to disbelieve in the power of Good over Evil, Love over Hate, even question the existence of real love…and that despair can have tragic consequences. We can get trapped in our loneliness and have no way out, and this experience of loneliness is the same experience Jesus went through, when he was betrayed by one of his top 12 friends, when the same people who celebrated his entrance on Jerusalem on Sunday turned around and cried out for him to be crucified, when he cried out to the Father on the Cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” Yes, this feeling of loneliness can be a brush with death, our own personal crucifixions.
So like cat in the picture, we’re afraid, so we hide…and then we can’t be seen. But if we’re invisible, we can’t love or be loved, and we begin to die inside. And not only do we start to die inside: our relationships, they too start to die.