The universe is set up to help us succeed with our wish to realize the next level of consciousness; in short, to grow into successively higher levels of being. A relationship is the “vessel” of that journey – a ceaselessly changing vehicle that shows us the need to grow beyond our present level of understanding while delivering the vital self-revelations that make our growth possible. To start fulfilling this higher purpose of love, we must first realize there is no “self” outside of relationship, and relationships are how love expresses itself in this universe.
Second, we must understand that our relationships not only reveal truths about us but, with each successive revelation, give us to see that whatever quality we’re now aware of within us…has always been in us; we just didn’t know it. In this way, we’re re-united with ourselves, self-realized by agreeing to let love show us our native wholeness. Of course, we love to be shown qualities within us that are positive. But love often shows us what is un-loving within us, much as the light of the sun creates shadows. To understand this is to realize that even in the darkest moment of some unwanted revelation, we are never without love; it is always there, even if – as clouds sometimes hide the sun – it is momentarily obscured by our negative reaction to what we’ve been shown (about ourselves).
Love’s power of revelation
All of this leads us to realize that more than anything else, relationships serve a great single end: the ongoing revelation of the truth of ourselves. Our willingness to honestly examine what we presently love ¬– and what we are becoming because of our relationship with it – is the beginning of not only learning to love what is truly gracious, forever good, and kind, but also of loving to realize these truths about ourselves, whatever their nature. More than this, one cannot ask for; less than this… is to miss the purpose of having been given life.
Relationships reveal us to ourselves because they are “mirrors,” reflecting back to us qualities light and dark, high and low, some delightful and others self-compromising and self-limiting. Our relationships become “magical” as we realize that whatever remains concealed within us can’t be healed, and that our partner – our “mirror” in each moment – is actually the agent of these revelations that alone can release us from our limitation. Our resulting freedom not only liberates us, but also liberates our relationship from its former boundary, allowing both of us to grow into better, more loving people. Another way relationships reveal us to ourselves is expressed in one of my favorite quotations by George Washington Carver. He teaches: “If you love something enough, it will talk to you.” Whatever we love will give us knowledge of itself, allowing us, as if by magic, an intimate understanding of it attainable in no other way. Therefore not only do we find in the object of our affection something of ourselves, but also that proverbial missing piece of our perennially empty heart.
Why relationships fail – and the magic in applying love’s higher purpose
The main reason many relationships fail is the single – almost inescapable – false belief that our partner is responsible for our happiness. When they inevitably fail to live up to this impossible expectation, any fault in the relationship is easily blamed on them. The “magic” returns to our relationship as we realize the real culprit in our conflict with others is some impossible expectation we’ve placed upon them. As we see this and assume responsibility for our own negative reactions, resentment and misunderstanding move out while new self-understanding moves in. Blaming is common in relationships, but it undermines love’s true purpose. We blame each other because negative emotions want to continue on, but they cannot without having someone or something to blame for their punishing presence. The real root of our sorrow in life is not over what others have or have not done to us; our continuing stress over the “shortcomings” of others is simply what we have yet to understand about ourselves.
Refusing to blame another turns us into an objective witness of our own superheated emotions. From the safety of this higher awareness we see about ourselves what we couldn’t see before because of all the inner “fire and smoke.” Now conscious of our actual inner condition we “look before we leap” into any further mistaken conclusions. Taking this conscious pause – neither expressing nor suppressing any irritated thought or feeling – lifts us above the level of self that’s the real cause of our combustibility. Not only is our self-command restored, but it is heightened.
This is taking full responsibility for our relationships, and it begins with recognizing that resentment, fear, and regret choke the life out of our chance to unconditionally love one another. Further, it comes of realizing that running through these old patterns – while holding others accountable for the pain in them — has utterly failed. Acknowledging this truth initiates the birth of being fully responsible for our relationships, realizing, if we wish to have true harmonious relationships with others, then it is we who must change. Ultimately, we must face the fact that it is not in our power to change the nature of our partners in life. On the other hand, as their nature reveals in us what it inevitably does, those revelations empower us to change ourselves. Relationships, especially difficult ones, show us aspects of our own consciousness that would otherwise remain invisible; but, used properly, they can help reveal and then release us from parts of us we can see no longer serve us. This illumination is our liberation from any troubling relationship, whether with others…or ourselves!
How love’s higher purpose comes alive in us
It is in conscious relationships that we gradually grow – individually – into all that is self-sufficient and good, because it is through them that we become stronger and wiser, allowing us to transcend our unseen self-limiting level of self. What this means is that wherever our relationship unfolds (marriage, family, on the job, etc.), it is always here and now that we need to work. Nothing speeds up our inner work better than working with someone who helps us realize the need for change! The closer the relationship, the more likely this dynamic exists. On the other hand, our wish to work inwardly does not depend upon the compliance of anyone else, nor can any other human being impede it.
In a way, we are each both a “jewel in the rough” and the jewelers wheel, all at once. One moment, we are being acted upon, asked to see facets of ourselves that need to be polished; a heartbeat later, roles are reversed, and we are the wheel that reveals what needs to be healed in our partner. That is what love has always intended for us to do and to be with each other: to work as polishing stones so that each of us exits the moment of relationship more perfected than we entered into it. The more we understand and agree to embrace these roles and their revelations, the more magical all our relationships become.