We’re relational beings to our core. And certainly being part of any mature relationship includes a willingness to sacrifice the exclusive focus on our self-interests to care for the needs of others as well. But partnering with others doesn’t mean we completely give up our sense of self. The relational goal is union, not fusion.
For instance, in marriage the two are said to become one. And this oneness is best understood as a joining of differences and not a complete blending.
In fusion, elements are melded together to form a single new entity – losing all distinctions of the old along the way. While each flavors the final outcome, the rich variety of their differences can no longer be seen or appreciated, as everything has been blended together.
On the other hand, unity still births a new entity, but important distinctions remain. In fact, like a lock and key, the seed and the ground, or sexual intercourse, these complements are what make unity possible and strengthen the bond. For example, males and females don’t lose their anatomical distinctions in the act of sex. They’re united into one without losing the beauty of their differences.
And this is the relational ideal in marriage and all our other meaningful relationships as well. We get to retain the unique ways God has crafted us even as we learn to dance with those who are different. While perhaps it seems romantic to completely lose ourselves in our relationships, this is not what it means to love or to become one.
To be sure, we miss the beauty of God’s diversity, and allow bitterness to quietly take root, when we merely try to blend everything together.
In the end, celebrate the beauty of oneness throughout your life and relationships. And remember the relational goal is union, not fusion.