Occasionally, we’ll ask Paul to unpack some of his thoughts about some lines from The Shack that intrigued or moved us. Hopefully, hearing more of his heart behind some of these words will stimulate more thought and reflection in your own life.
“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”
When you’re involved with another person, you’ve involved with a mystery. We are eternal people with eternally untapped mysteries. That’s because God has a high view of humanity, not a low one. Humanity is a high expression of who God is. When you realize that, it broads and deepens your appreciation of every person you meet.
I have six children, ranging in age from 34 to 22. My relationship with each of those children is absolutely unique because of who they are uniquely, and what they draw out of me. It is dependent on who they are, how they look at the world, what they like and what they don’t like. And the depth of those ideas, with each of them, is related to knowing them.
The deeper you get to know a human being, the more you realize that there is an intricacy there that you are never going to fully plumb. Every layer of that, every nuance, adds depth and richness to your relationship with them.
I think part of why we like to classify people into boxes is because that we don’t have to know them. All we have to know is what the label is and then we can excommunicate the label or annihilate the label without having to get to know a real person. This is why relational formulas don’t seem to work—because they operate on the idea of people as equations to be solved instead of mysteries to be explored.
But when you love someone, it changes all the rules. And that’s because there’s a depth to knowing them where it is beyond the labels. Now it’s a person that matters. We see it in our relationships with our children. We see it in our family. Our spouses. Our intimate friends. Loving people and knowing them is absolutely integral to each other.
How does the idea of mystery sit with you? Are you frustrated by the inevitable “unknowability” of those you love?
Do you think you have to know someone to love them, or can you love someone without truly knowing who they are?