So you tried love. And it worked out okay… for a while. But after a few episodes of feeling star-struck and then blind-sided, drawn in and then disillusioned, you decided to be a little more careful. You discovered love wasn’t always reliable and you felt your tender heart preferred more guarantees. You needed some rules.
And for a while you had religion… which was nice… sort of…because religion seemed to be about rules. Even if they were a little confusing at times… but they also seemed comforting… and offered a sort of overarching reassurance that no matter what, God loved you… and Jesus loved you… and the church loved you… at least as long as you believed the right way and prayed the right way – according to the rules – everything would work out. And it did… for awhile… until it didn’t. And it was all good… for awhile… Until it wasn’t. Until you began to discover exceptions. Until you realized that sometimes, despite believing and praying and living according to the rules, your heart could still be broken. You could still feel betrayed… empty.
Many people experience those feelings with religion. And it’s often at this point where they decide to make a change. Although they can still feel a deep sense of spirituality alive inside them, they feel the need to separate themselves from all the inconsistencies and hypocrisy they discovered in the rules of religion. They vow to begin making their own rules. And with that vow, they go around and collect the various examples of lessons and practices they’d been handed about God and Jesus and prayer – and throw them all out the back door. The whole kit and caboodle. The baby and the bathwater.
They work hard to forge a new set of rules – their own set of rules… which they reason will be more reliable, leave them less vulnerable. And this strategy works… for awhile.
But, despite this, they notice still occasionally feelings of a familiar emptiness. And when they dare to get quiet enough, or take a really long walk or have a really honest conversation with themselves, they recognize that what’s missing is some inherent sense of belonging. Some connection that they know was meant to be theirs by birthright. And though they are rarely able to say by whom such belonging was promised to them or in what form it should appear, they go off in search. Until the day comes when they finally look out in the backyard of their own house and see, peering out from the tall weeds, an old man and a rusty old tub, out in the back yard where they’d been thrown away so many years ago. And they notice that old man staring back at them… expectantly… wondering if it’s finally time to have a real conversation about love.