Variety of Love Relationships

Married life is an excellent model for our relationship with God. For both relationships are centered in love. Both relationships take on many forms. In the marital relationship, couples are friends, lovers, mentors, helpers, economic partners, spiritual partners. And there is mystery pervading the relationship, the mystery of relating to one who is other than and different from oneself.

Likewise, our relationship with God can assume many different forms, one of which should include a deep sense of mystery. Perhaps, because the human heart has so many desires, we seek in the other or the Other a response to our variety of longings.

Further, for both marital and divine relationships, variety is not only a possibility; it is also the spice of life and a sure sign of a fully alive relationship. Also, for both there is the need for discernment to discover our hearts’ longings and the appropriate form of relationship for any given moment. In the marital relationship, discernment must take into account the heart wishes of both parties. In the spiritual relationship, we must not only pursue relationship with God, but we must always leave ourselves open for the Spirit’s prompts.

Some common ways of relating to God are: companionship, ongoing incarnation, communal presence, mentor, divine eros, romance, divine love center, compassionate presence, cosmic presence, ultimate beauty, and Mystery:

  • We relate to God as companion when we hang out with Jesus, who lives on in the Risen Christ, and experience his companionship as we enter into prayer or study or reach out to others in our efforts to bring them the Good News.
  • We relate to God as ongoing incarnation when we however briefly act beyond our capacities to be Jesus to others.
  • We relate to God as communal presence when we affirm the Risen Christ’s presence in community empowering us to growth through one another with the Spirit’s help.  
  • We relate to God as mentor and guide when we connect with the Spirit who conducts constantly a dialogue with us to let us know about what God wants of us. It is the Spirit too who helps us discern the movements of our hearts, whether they be holy or unholy, calculated only to hinder the work of the Spirit within us.
  • We relate to God as divine eros when we sense that the Spirit is directing arrows of love toward us to awaken us to the possibilities of love and to call us out of our tombs into new life like Lazarus.
  • We relate to God in a romantic way when we increasingly see the possibilities of divine love in the articles of our faith—Jesus’ birth, life, death, gift of the Spirit, incorporation into the Body of the Risen Christ. Or when we increasingly appreciate the abundance of God’s gift to us in creation. Or when we increasingly grow in faith and see God as our ultimate source of being and love and hope and enlightenment.
  • We relate to God as divine love center when we encounter God at the core of our being radiating out beams of love through our minds, hearts and wills so that we may see all through the eyes of love.
  • We relate to God as compassionate presence when we are fully present with a caring heart and attentive mind to “receive” God who is infinitely present in us and all creation with infinite love and infinite attention. And we gift ourselves to the Giver of all gifts.
  • We relate to God as cosmic presence when we encounter God’s presence and love radiating out through ourselves and all creation.
  • We relate to God as ultimate beauty when we encounter beauty in the arts, in nature, in other people and attribute that beauty to God.
  • We relate to God as Mystery when we surrender in absolute wonder and speechless awe to the One who transcends our knowing, who is beyond our understanding, as we do in centering prayer.

The possibilities of practicing relationship with God are endless. The very variety opens up for us countless points of encounter that can fill our day with God’s presence. The variety also gives balance to our relationship with God. The danger of focusing on one type of relationship is that we may make an idol of it. Worse, we may feel we own God, leaving us unprepared for the inevitable shocks of life.

Most importantly, practicing the variety of relationships with God drives us to engage in the Dance of the Divine Dance—Love radiating out, Love inviting and Love taking charge—three relationships flowing into one continuous movement of love, inspiration and action toward and for others.