The Calling Of Joy: Joy In Relationship
By Bruce Davis, Ph.D.
Nowhere is real food more apparent or more absent than in our partnerships and with our friends. In modern life when we carry so much of the daily world in our hearts, less and less of us is available for relationships. Many people live alone. Many more people, who live in relationship, feel as if they are alone. Our hearts are full of just about everything leaving little room for love. We offer and receive little because of the over crowding in our hearts. Relationships suffer as we suffer from our lack of joy.
Relationships are where we most easily find joy and seemingly most easily lose our joy. In our partnerships we see our joy and see where we compromise and give up joy. Many people, who live separate from the inner river of joy, struggle for and hold tightly onto a relationship to give them what they are missing. We look for someone to give the joy we cannot find for ourselves. When we find this person it soon becomes difficult. The love is not enough or now how we want it. The other person, no matter how much they try, cannot satisfy us. For a while the relationship works but sooner or later one or both of us get tired of trying to satisfy the other.
When we are our source of joy, our partner can be himself or herself. They can have good days and bad days. They do not need to hide parts of themselves or try to be different to try to please us. And we can be ourselves.
We support one another to have real food in our lives, to live our joy! In a new relationship or an old relationship beginning again, enjoying real food with one another and in one another makes the heart of the relationship.
It is beautiful to remember love’s beginnings. It is here that we get glimpses of love’s potential and our soul’s true nature. In the beginning, falling in love is the meeting of two souls. Concerns with the daily world do not exist. In these times, only love is real. Two souls are meeting in seemingly limitless possibility. We are excited in almost every cell of our body. Love’s abundance is everywhere. This is a reflection of the power and potential of our souls being fully present in our lives. When we are living our river of joy we quickly and easily say, “yes” to everything we are feeling and experiencing. With love, no obstacle seems so important or overwhelming. Love is greater than all. We discover so much energy, we can hardly sleep. When our lover leaves in the morning, we still feel their presence around us and in us.
During the day, we seem to know how they are, what they are feeling. When the phone rings we know if it is them calling. Love’s wonderful being is everywhere. Rivers of energy are flowing through us. Our creativity and ideas of what is possible are opened and pouring out non-stop. If only we could turn off our minds and feel it all! If only we could stop making plans, turn off our pictures, our fantasies of the future, and simply be present. If only life could be like this forever. Our families and fiends just think we are “in love”. More often than not, they tell us, “not to get hurt, be careful. Be sure it is right.” And sometimes we hear from those who know love, “enjoy it, play, have fun, be all you can”. Meanwhile inside of us something incredible is happening. We discover feelings we never knew we had. We find prayer unfolding naturally as if saying, “May this love feel every part of my partner, everything inside that hungers. May this love be a gift for all beings.” In these times it feels as if our lover, indeed everyone we meet on the street is a part of us. There is no separation. This joy is meant for everyone. We are souls. God is everywhere. Inside each of us is a loving God recognizing God in the other. In the nakedness shared with one another, love is blooming. We are amazed by how much love is moving our thoughts, feelings, changing everything in our lives.
Dare to Live in Love’s Ocean
In these times, our souls are unfolding. We think it is the relationship taking root in our lives. But it is more. The relationship is an impulse for our souls. Love itself is finding place in our being. It is taking its place against all our fears and the skepticism and judgments of those around us. If we have been living apart from our river of joy, we are afraid of feeling too much. Falling in love, the idea is great, but the experience is unsettling or overwhelming. When our inner river of joy is shallow or covered in worldly concerns, we try to control our falling in love. The new love is usually short lived or quickly brought under some limits. We quickly try to define the relationship. What is it? Where are we going? Is this a new friend of my new partner? We make categories as an attempt to limit and hold onto the experience. In modern culture, we usually try to limit love’s passion and be practical. We try to come back to normal reality. We do not trust love’s waves. We do not know love’s ocean. We quickly try to organize love so we are comfortable and the heart does not get too naked. The soul is briefly touched but usually not embraced for long. Soon the joy has nowhere to go inside. Fears surface. We are afraid to lose ourselves. Lovers quickly jump into making plans instead of living their newly found depths of being. They often rush to put the relationship into practical worldly limits instead of remaining open and available to where love leads them.
Love, God’s gift opens us to our true nature. Our heart is open, present. Our soul is unfolding perfectly, seemingly so naturally in our lives. Love has pierced our defenses, our normal personality. Love has raised the covers hiding our hearts. Everything is exposed. Love’s impulse is awakening the depths of our being. Our soul has never felt so real, so true. Surely nothing is an accident. Every moment, every encounter has purpose. What is real and what is only my imagination? Does the other really feel as I feel? Do I let go into the vastness? Is this real or a dream? Should I protect myself? Maybe it is all too much. Where are the boundaries?
When lovers or new friends meet and the special energy is honored, protected, lived as much as possible, love takes root. Trust in one’s self grows with trust in the other. Our souls come forward in our hearts, in our awareness and unfold in our lives. These times include feelings of being completely understood even before or without talking. There are moments of great nakedness, acceptance, vulnerability, excitement, and fulfillment. Every part of life seemingly is leading us to more love, more aspects of our soul. We feel as if our core being has been undressed. In the nakedness of the relationship so much is present.
These are sacred times. There is much more occurring than simply meeting a new friend or falling in love. Heaven and earth have come together inside of us.
Each soul is discovering places inside, a vast expanse of being, openness, purpose. There is a new kind of security that includes feelings of being completely insecure. Love itself seems to give so much including new confidence, knowing, trust, peace, a feeling of being connected with our selves, others, nature all around us. Love has penetrated the hardened places inside reminding us that we are much more. Joy seems to have an unlimited source within us. Two souls are merging and unfolding together. Or were we already merged and just didn’t know it? Aren’t we interwoven with everyone but too egocentric to realize it?
Love is unfolding our essence. Love’s simple being heals all kinds of separation. Joy is entering places where love has never been. Our bodies become joy’s body,
Love is making a true home not only for our partner but also for our souls in our hearts and in the world God has become physical.
What is this love? Is it only giving? When or how much should we receive? Is love selfish or selfless? Is love possible in a world that is practical first, responsible second, with love being way down on the list? How do we keep the mystery alive? Can we drown in love and still live in this world? In our fear, the questions seem endless. In love’s presence, everything is possible. There are no limits. Only in this moment is the answer. Love is lived one minute at a time. Love begins anew each day, loving the other, as they want to be loved. Yes, loving is loving the other, as they want to be loved.
This giving, freely out of our joy is the building block of a strong relationship. With our children, we know this. Our joy is loving the children, as they want to be loved. Of course there are times both children and adults need to have boundaries. Every relationship needs some structure, a foundation. This structure gives the relationship safety, trust, room in which to grow. Giving a relationship a clear structure gives love a secure place to fill. Lack of structure or unclear commitment or boundaries, creates misunderstanding and lack of trust. Children and adults can spend more time arguing over boundaries instead of enjoying the relationship. Relationships with minimal clear boundaries have maximum strong joy. Relationships with maximum boundaries, have limited joy. With too many boundaries, a relationship becomes a power struggle instead of a gift to be enjoyed again and again. Clarity in relationship builds strength. Relationships grow in joy, as there is safety. Safety gives trust.
We give to each other, as we would want to be given to. Joy is in the other’s face, the eyes and smile, as he or she is loved as they wish. Love is in the small things.
Offering and Receiving
Love is the offering of our selves but it is also in the receiving. This is the balance that is often missing. Love is the opportunity to offer our selves completely and also to receive deeply. In modern life our offering is limited because we do not know how to receive. Love begins again and again by receiving the other. Couples that really receive one another offer each other unending joy. Receiving is taking the time to feel the unique presence of our partner. Receiving is to have all our senses and heart present with each other. More than listening to the words shared, more than understanding the feelings expressed, receiving is to drink the special qualities, the essence and being. Receiving is like saying a great “yes” to our partner. This “yes”, this pure acceptance is food for our souls. The nourishment of the relationship makes the challenges and obstacles we encounter smaller, and not so important. We receive, drinking the other’s simple presence of beauty, their strength, their vulnerability, their grace. Receiving the other builds the foundation for relationship. This receiving is two souls realizing the oneness of being.
The separation we think divides us is really not true. We are separate bodies and personalities, but together in an ocean of being. In relationship, two souls are consciously letting go of separateness and being in love’s ocean.
Shared joy loves the person as they are, without conditions. However, few people know this kind of love because they never experienced it for themselves. Beginning early in childhood, we were rarely received and just loved. Very quickly we learned how to perform to do well for love. Love based on how well we perform quickly enters in relationships with each partner thinking they must do something to keep the other. Each person tries to guess what the other wants or sacrifices his or her wishes so the other is happy. Soon each is unhappy because they have given up on themselves. In the beginning the new partner is everything we always wanted and later the same partner can be everything we don’t like. What has happened? We have abandoned our own river of joy trying to please the other or hoping against hope the other will give us what we need. Most relationships suffer because each feels they are not loved for just being themselves.
How do we love the other, as they want to be loved without abandoning ourselves? How do we love our partner and not leave our own river of joy? The answer begins with what is our joy? What is this love? The simple presence of our lover is our joy. To receive the presence of our partner is to feed the relationship. As we receive the presence of our lover, the details of life find a path. Many couples are too busy with managing the details of the relationship and lose contact with the relationship itself. The presence of the partner gets lost in the business of daily life. Soon two strangers are living together. All the details of job, home, children are taken care of but we do not know whom we are living with. We are taking the time for everything but have no time to receive the other. This receiving is not in what we do together. This receiving is not in the taking care of the other’s needs. This receiving is in the silence that we share together. This receiving is beyond our words, beyond our activities. Receiving is having space inside us for the other.
To take our partner in our hearts, our being, this is the gift of relationship. To have someone who really takes us inside, appreciates us, holds us, this is relationship’s joy.
To be with the other, to feel their life, their work, their joys, their hopes and disappointments, this is receiving. Receiving is being together underneath all the chores of life. Love is going down to the river in each of us and going further into the ocean of being together. When we look into each other’s eyes we are looking into the ocean of life’s presence. This is the true relationship, sharing life’s simple presence.
Childhood Patterns in Adult Relationships
In the search for love, we often choose someone to take care of. We think if we sacrifice ourselves for them, they will do the same for us. At an early age, we tried to take care of mother’s or father’s needs and wishes. As children we were rewarded for what we did or how well we performed. Love was more about behaving a certain way than receiving the simple love of no conditions. As adults, we try to be the perfect partner. We do everything correctly. We try to take care of the other the best we can. WE perform and do everything hoping to find the love we are missing. As children no matter what we did or how well we performed, we did not get the love we wanted. And as adults, we still do not find the love we are seeking. We give up ourselves, our joy, again and again thinking there is some kind of trade or bargaining for love. We feel alone in relationship and without.
Some of us as children rebel and get in all kinds of trouble. We noticed the trouble we get into also gets parental attention. The attention is exciting; not very loving but at least it is attention. As adults we continue. We are the partners that are not available, that disappoints again and again. The “good” child finds the “bad” child and tries to change them. Often in relationships, we pick someone we think we can love and fix or heal. Then everything will be okay. Meanwhile, we are hoping and then disappointed time and again. All kinds of patterns for love are tried as children and tried again as adults. Some people find someone to notice them and to take care of them. They hope the love they want will stay. Others look for someone to love and take care of but the new partner takes the attention for granted and expects more and more.
We enter relationships unhappy and think the new relationship will make our lives different. Or we enter into relationships happy and often find ourselves suffering not too long afterwards. What happens? One day we are happy sharing our joy together with our new friend and soon we are struggling to keep the connection and become disappointed. Where did the joy go? Or more accurately, when did we abandon our selves, our river of joy? Often we quickly leave or lose our own feelings, our truth, the river of joy because we do not live it well ourselves. We try to satisfy and meet the expectations of the other and lose our selves. We try to satisfy and meet the expectations of the other and lose our selves in the process. The new partner meanwhile is doing the same, abandoning him or herself trying to keep the relationship together. Each of us has our own river to be in. How can leaving our joy serve the other? Of course, we cannot keep someone else in his or her joy. They must follow their course. We meet, joining together again and again. A true relationship is an abundance of shared joy.
The mystery of relationship opens again and again as we remember it is not what we do for each other. It is not what we do together. Love is not the activities and possessions we share. It is not a meeting of the minds. Love’s mystery is in the presence of love. It is the windows of the heart that open when we are together.
It is the communion, gentleness, understanding, peace, and joy we discover. The relationship is much more than what we say. It is more that our likes and dislikes, more than the feelings we have in common. The true relationship is learning to enjoy the presence of the relationship itself. Love is the innocence, trust, passion, devotion, and gratitude we feel when we are with each other. It is two people receiving the wonder of the other, joy’s presence in the other. This is the bond that holds two people together. No matter how far apart two people become, the moment one begins to receive the other, to let the presence of the other touch them, the relationship begins again.
Saying “Yes” to Each Other
In difficult times, sometimes we may think a new partner would be better. But what is really happening is that two souls are no longer touching the beauty and joy in each other. Joy may be easier at least in the beginning with someone new. But we still have our own challenge to live a life of real food. This includes learning to enjoy the real food in our partner. Whoever our partner is, we still have to learn to be true to our river and receive the river of the other. Differences of personalities, likes and dislikes have little influence when souls are receiving and enjoying one another.
Love is receiving the very best in each other. Love is being patient with everything human in ourselves and our partner.
Maybe the same difficulties we find in this partner, we will find with another. The parts of the other we do not like can be as much our problem as theirs. What we do not like about ourselves or about life, we often see in those closest to us. What we are most critical of and judgmental about, we often find and then focus on, in those living with us. The people we love the most, we can be the harshest with. Commitment begins with being true to our own river. This gives our partner the space and support to embrace his or her unique life of joy. Commitment is each coming deeper into our river meeting again and again in the great ocean of being, of relationship. This is a true relationship. Instead of making our partner our excuse for us not finding our joy, relationship calls us down to the river until we surrender to God’s gift, unfolding our soul in our lives.
Partnership is making each other bigger. This means seeing and supporting one another to be more ourselves, to be creative, powerful, joyful in the world. True relationships are as if saying a big “yes” to one another. Each feels more of their potential, life’s possibilities. This “yes” is to help keep the wonder and joy of love’s beginnings. “Yes” keeps love growing. “Yes” supports each to continue opening to and expressing our soul in our life. Partnership is not an excuse to remain as we are or to make the other smaller. The bigger, more passionate, more successful, more joyful one becomes is a gift for the partner to expand as well. There are all kinds of new places inside the heart for both to be touched and explore. This leads to all kinds of new opportunities to experience and express our hearts to in the world.
So often couples become fixed on what they want to change in the other instead of receiving the shelter of two souls living together. This shelter supports each person to reach further into his or her inner resources. This shelter supports each to risk more, to be vulnerable, free, and powerful in the world. Shelter allows one or both partners to do less in the world and be more with themselves, the journey of their soul. In a busy world, the shelter of relationship protects our innocence, our playful being. Personalities have softened, surrendered to discover two souls as one. This joining of rivers is very special. Each is made bigger, more complete. Two rivers have come together to discover the vast ocean within. Relationships fifty years old or new, realize love’s beginnings are never far away. The excitement, the mountains of creativity and life’s possibilities are here. A true relationship is new after every encounter, every meeting.
Family, partner, friends, each relationship is unique. A relationship is more than two people sharing some activity, our thoughts and feelings. There is a spirit to each relationship. The spirit forms a bond, touching, connecting two people. Each relationship is an impulse to discover new richness of our soul. The spirit of each relationship provides shelter, an experience of wholeness, and special nourishment. When the relationship is not recognized and freshly received, the spirit withdraws and goes away. A relationship, as each of us, needs real food to thrive. With nourishment, the spirit takes hold in our hearts and grows in our lives.
Most people leave a relationship to develop by chance. The potential is rarely realized. People get distracted, drift apart. Often two people find themselves just living together. Many relationships fall apart because the spirit is not appreciated. The relationship is not given real food. Love needs to be fed. Real food for relationships is found when two people slow down in the enjoyment of life’s intimate being.
Read food is in the silence in the midst of our activity. Real food is sharing the sacredness of life including the sacredness of one another.
Struggling partners so easily forget that relationships are gifts to be opened again and again. The spirit of each relationship touches a special part of our soul. A relationship can never be repeated or duplicated. When a relationship is not received, the spirit dries up and goes away. One day the relationship is over. To find, renew, or build a relationship, our souls must call and receive the spirit. The spirit of a relationship is greater than our thoughts and feelings. It is something much more than the emotions that push and pull us. Golden threads are weaving together in and out, and through each soul. Each is becoming more in the presence of the other. Real food makes the gold more golden. New colors are always flowing into the tapestry of the relationship. The unique spirit of each relationship calls for our attention, devotion, and appreciation. Each relationship is a special kind of joy that nourishes the soul.