Q: Relationships never work out the way I want them to and I always seem to end up disappointed. How can I pray about this?
A: I hear you. When it came to relationships, I used to be a mess. I remember this one relationship. I guess we were still technically “together,” but I knew it was about to be over … mostly because of me. And it wasn’t the first relationship that had ended that way. It seemed like no matter what I did, relationships didn’t work out like I wanted them to.
What does keeping divine Love at the center mean for my relationships?
My thoughts at the time were all over the place. If the right person wasn’t this girl I was with, was it this other girl I was interested in instead? What did I want to have happen with my love life, anyway?
I was listening to music, I remember, hoping for a tune that would mirror my “Everything stinks!” attitude. I just needed something to capture the angst I was feeling. And then a song came on and I found myself singing along to these lyrics:
“What made you think you’d have it your way?”
This song wasn’t Christian or even remotely spiritual, but it completely stopped me in my tracks. I mean, that sounds cliché, but that’s exactly what happened. I stopped what I was doing and even stopped ruminating about my love life. And I asked myself that question: Why should this all go my way and be about me? Am I really the center of the universe?
I thought: I’d rather have it be God’s way. He’s good. Pure good. Divine Love. That’s what I want at the center. In reality, God actually is at the center! And I wanted to know: What does keeping divine Love at the center mean for me? What does that mean for my relationships? My life?
About a year and a half before this moment, I’d had a really revelatory experience about the presence of God’s love. And I knew from feeling that love, and glimpsing more of Love’s vast, gorgeous view of things, that my own perspective was limited. I knew that a self-centered view wasn’t going to allow me to love God more, to feel more of God’s love, or to love my neighbor better—whether that neighbor was a romantic partner or a friend. Love knows more, and Love knows better.
God’s way is the big relationship “solver.”
As I applied this to my life in that moment, I realized that seeing Love at the center of everything was an active prayer about relationships—and it’s one that any of us can lean on. When I’d been thinking that I was at the center of things, it was almost like I had this backpack of love that I took with me into relationships and doled it out as I needed to, or depending on how the other person was acting. But having divine Love at the center of everything meant I could love as the impulse of Love itself—unselfishly, completely, and freely, no matter what the other person in the relationship was doing. As God’s expression, it was my nature to do so.
I must love because God is Love, and because the very reason I exist is to express divine Love. Wow! That shift in thought got me out of self-centeredness. Now, it’s not like the clouds parted with that realization. Everything wasn’t suddenly fixed with my then-girlfriend. But I stopped stressing about that relationship. And as I encountered each new step—moving out of that relationship and on to other ones—I just kept following the newly awakened impulse not to be self-centered and, instead, to be moved by divine Love.
What I saw in praying about relationships was something that applies to all of us. It might seem like having things our way is the only way we won’t be disappointed. But in fact, God’s way is the big relationship “solver.” Our individual relation to Love defines all our other relationships. And with that at the center of thought, we’re each free to respond to Love instead of reacting. This helps us love in a way that blesses all our relationships—romantic or not.