The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

the pilgrimage: Henri Nouwen and my own topsy-turvy little heart

Day 30: Boy crazy.

Henri, Let Deep Speak to Deep:

When you “love” someone or “miss” someone, you experience an inner pain. Bit by bit you have to discover the nature of this pain. When your deepest self is connected with the deepest self of another, that person’s absence may be painful, but it will lead you to a profound communion with the person, because loving each other is loving in God. When the place where God dwells in you in intimately connected with the place where God dwells in the other, the absence of the other person is not destructive. On the contrary, it will challenge you to enter more deeply into communion with God, the source of all unity and communion among people.

It is also possible on the other hand that the pain of absence will show you that you are out of touch with your own deeper self. You need the other to experience inner wholeness, to have a sense of well-being. You have become emotionally dependent on the other and sink into depression because of his or her absence. It feels as if the other has taken away a part of you that you cannot live without. Then the pain of absence reveals a certain lack of trust in God’s love. But God is enough for you.

True love between two human beings puts you more in touch with your deepest self. It is a love in God. The pain you experience from the death or absence of the person you love, then, always calls you to a deeper knowledge of God’s love. God’s love is all the love you need, and it reveals to you the love of God in the other. So the God in you can speak to the God in the other. This is deep speaking to deep, a mutuality in the heart of God, who embraces both of you.

Death or absence does not end or even diminish the love of God that brought you to the other person. It calls you to take a new step into the mystery of God’s inexhaustible love. This process is painful, very painful, because the other person has become a true revelation of God’s love for you. But the more you are stripped of the God-given support of people, the more you are called to love God for God’s sake. This is an awesome and even dreadful love, but it is the love that offers eternal life.


Here’s the deal, Henri. I love you. But why the hell (excuse me) did you wait until 2012 to teach me these words I read today?

The words here remind me of the vast array of warm-colored greeting cards reserved for Valentine’s Day, or for that special someone. The someone who makes you complete, or who gives your life meaning, or who you cannot live without. As tempting as luxurious romance is, Henri suggests that when it overtakes you – when the need for the other can ruin your own self – something is off.

I have spent years and years and years as the independent, don’t-need-no-man, immune to lovesickness girl, full of self-love, who would never go boy crazy.

At 23, after a college degree and the start of a career path, I finally realize the truth. I totally am boy crazy. (Welp, who knew.)

I totally am boy crazy in the sense that as much as I do not want to believe these silly V-Day catchphrases and trite romantic comedy endings… deep down, they have ensnared me. They have taken root in the deepest places of vulnerability and insecurity and loneliness in my heart, and have told me that in order to be enough (good enough, beautiful enough, intelligent enough, enjoyable enough, and especially lovable enough)… there must be a man to prove it.

My hand must be warm from being held to be actually, genuinely lovable enough.
When my hand is cold, when the one who loved me is absent… there lacks the proof of my worth.
(Wow. It is an exhausting way to live. And I am tired of it.)

Lord, have mercy on me – and free me from the need to prove my worth through the presence of another flawed and imperfect human being, even if he is very very handsome. With maybe a nice smile, and strong arms, and a sharp wit, and some good facial hair, and who will want to take me on picnics and bike rides and flash that smile…

Oops. Lord, have mercy. ;)


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2 thoughts on “Day 30: Boy crazy.

  1. I love your humor. I agree with you, Jessica, but I do think that having a loving partner is fulfilling. When Jim dies, I will feel like I lost a part of myself. Is that wrong? I will know that God still loves me but after 46 years (plus 2 years of dating), how could I not feel like something is missing in my life?

  2. John 4:13-14
    Desire perhaps may never go away. Jesus calls the woman to ask for a different kind of Water, not to stop asking altogether. It’s just that the Living Water satisfies, sustains (and overflows).

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