My daughter said to me wistfully one day about her own child: “I feel sad that a day is coming when I won’t be the most important person in her life anymore.”
It got me to thinking about the fact that I am no longer the most important person in my daughter’s life anymore, just as when my own children became more intensely the focus of my affections than my parents. My children increased and they decreased. And so it goes, for generation after generation.
That banal realization in turn got me to thinking that no one is ever everything for anyone and no one ever can be. If we only understand that, and the reasons why God made it so, we will not pine to have it otherwise.
Every person is only one thing to another, by definition and by the laws of mutual exclusivity. If X is not Y, a person cannot be both X and Y to another. A brother cannot be also a sister, nor can a father be a mother. I am my brother’s sister but can and will never be his mother. A father can never be in relation to his offspring identical to the relation of the one who carried that child in her womb. A father can enjoy a paternal relationship with his children but never a husbandly one with its particular kinds of intimacies; that would be incest. A mother makes a wonderful mother but a lousy kid sister. Though I love my husband, there are memories and inside jokes I share only with the two humans I grew up with. Though I love my siblings, I have left them and they me for our respective spouses.
What I see in this God-ordained constitution of human relations is a deliberate limit to every relationship on earth. The divine arrangement is such that we may look to others for love, for help, for emotional closeness and fulfillment, but only in part. We get some of what we need and love from one, and some of it from another.
This is brilliant design. If we could get all we needed from one other human on the planet, we would suck him dry. If we could derive perfect satisfaction from one other human on the planet, why would we ever find ourselves in that fundamental loneliness that only God can fill? And so we turn to Him again and again when no one else seems to understand. And we are relieved to find that we are fully known.
There are things about you that are so personal and so deep down and so beyond expression and articulation that only you and God know them. And what a joy that is. So cheer up: Someone out there is your Father and mother and brother and lover and friend and shepherd and light and deliverer—and every other relation you can want.