For a fast-paced culture in which news comes in a 24-hour barrage and busyness is worn as a badge of honor, often frenzy and instability are the norm. But to change the conversation, explore the heart of an issue, and potentially effect meaningful change, it is essential to dig deep and move beyond the ephemeral and temporary as we listen for that which is enduring. And when we ask the question of what is enduring, we come back again and again to this: our profound need for divine and human connection.

February is designated as a month to celebrate love—and if you cringe a bit when you read that, we understand. Because the ways that designation is celebrated, culminating in Valentine’s Day, are often cheesy and void of meaning (not to mention commercially exploited). Our culture presents us with a fantasy of connection, but more often than not, the solutions that promise to fulfill the fantasy turn out to be a bit like building a sandcastle in a hurricane. So it’s no wonder that many people, overstressed and under-connected, resign themselves—consciously or not—to the idea that “real relationships” take too much work, opting for the safety of familiarity and isolation rather than the naked risk of love.

But this we believe: to be human means to live in relationship. It is in relation to each other and to the world around us that we are most fully ourselves, most fully in tune with the image of God in which we were created. If we settle for the fantasy of connection, or reject the fantasy but spiral into cynicism, we lose access to core parts of our identities and callings. Deep, dynamic relationships, though, are not without risk; when we open ourselves to others and to our unpredictable world, we are exposing our own broken parts to the jagged and broken parts of others. This can get messy, to say the least.

All this month on the Intersections blog, we’ll be diving into that beautiful, terrifying, holy mess of relationships. And we’re not just talking about marriage or other forms of romantic love. We’ll be exploring the nature of friendship, the ways we relate to ourselves and hold our sense of identity, and what it means to let the steady currents of love move in the midst of fear, pain, and uncertainty.

So here’s to messiness, mystery, and a bold commitment to relationship in the face of empty fantasies and cultural disconnection. Because the need is too great, and the moment too urgent, to not take seriously our deep need for dynamic, life-giving connection with God, ourselves, and each other.