Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
“He has also set eternity in the human heart.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
This past week I was listening to a love song that spoke about eternal love as a bride and her husband started off their married life together. The melody itself was soulful, lilting, and even sorrowing as it moved through my mind. It lingered there for a couple days, entertaining me and also asking questions. As I sat conducting a couples therapy session this afternoon, portions of the answers became more clear.
Being together forever in marriage is something that many long for. This dream fulfills a basic need, but it can be very difficult to achieve. That was the struggle playing out before me in the therapy session this afternoon. The couple could see glimpses of their initial dream for lifelong connection, while grieving for so many years of the dream unfulfilled.
I believe inside of us there is a desire and a capacity to love another person forever. We are made in the image of God, the eternally communing, eternally One, Triune God. So something deep in the fabric of our being already has a blueprint for eternal love.
The oneness that we had in infancy with our birth mothers, mirrors this to some extent. But we also know and come to learn that we must separate from our mothers in order to live out our full existence on this planet. We start off as infants, completely helpless and terrified of being alone. Being left alone is traumatizing, and it would also mean the death of us.
To meet these needs God created a wonderful bonding process during our infancy called Attachment. This bonding knits our hearts and minds with a primary caregiver, usually our mother. It gives us a sense of oneness and helps us know that we are not alone. Attachment brings comfort, reassurance, and strength. It also provides a launching point for us to begin to branch out and explore the world. We take small steps in venturing out through childhood which reach their culmination in adolescence. Our season of oneness with our primary caregiver draws to a close.
The childhood experience of oneness is only temporary, yet the longing for oneness continues. And so God created the covenant of marriage. This covenant is a vow spoken, a promise lived, and a life laid down until “death do us part.” When two lives come together and each one chooses this relationship of oneness, we are coming closest to experiencing the fulfillment of our innate desire for eternal love on this side of Heaven. It is a process and a journey that takes a lifetime together.
So, where does the sadness come from when we consider “eternal love?”
The blessing and the curse of the human mind is its capacity to think of a future beyond the present one. This prescient mind, thinks forward with joy and anticipation. At times it looks ahead with fear and also the sorrow of knowing that “good things come to an end.”
Our Creator steps into these places of fear and sorrow to meet and comfort us. He reassures our hearts with His promise, that He will “never leave us or forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6). In this life and as we face our own mortality, we need His still small voice reminding us:
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.”
Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
He speaks to us in the language of Attachment. We humans with our fears of being alone, along with our deep desires for oneness, are greatly comforted by His promises that He will be with us.
In Exodus God reveals himself to Moses as the Constant One stating, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12; NIV). Rabbi Harold Kushner says that this revelation was broader than the specific gift of God’s presence to Moses. It spoke to the very nature of God, the One who was, and is, and is to come. “I will be with you. That is who I am” (Kushner, 2006; p.15).
When we participate in the covenant of marriage, we embark on the fulfillment of our deepest needs as we embrace the oneness that God ordained. When we commit through Covenant, “to death do us part,” we are truly taking part in a forever love. Our lives become tangible expressions of His message to one another, “I will be with you. That is who I am.”
You can learn more about Attachment in marriage at www.facetofacemarriage.com
Kushner, H. S. (2006). Overcoming Life’s Disappointments. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Division of Random House, Inc.
W. Jesse Gill, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist who is passionate about marriage therapy. His book, Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage, integrates the truth of Scripture with the power of Attachment Theory to help heal and strengthen marriages. He is married to April, the love of his life; they work together to build security in their marriage and with their two children. www.facetofacemarriage.com