Needing relationships or abandonment

What is the difference between needing relationships and finding our significance in relationships?  We all need relationships, especially healthy ones that are life-giving. However, at times, it is easy to mistake this need for a sense that we are only significant IF we have this need met, even if in an unhealthy manner. 

It is a little like confusing needing food with finding significance in food.  There is a big difference between these two approaches to what we eat.  It is the difference between ‘eating to live and living to eat.’  If I try to meet needs other than sustenance through my food, the food begins to control me.  This is because I am seeking food to fill a deep hole in my soul for significance.  Food will never fully fill this need.  So, I eat and eat and eat.  I think I am beginning to understand this as I am seeking food for sustenance rather than significance.

This is something I have been processing in my life.  We all were created for relationships. In the Creation Story at the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 1 & 2), we are repeatedly told that after God creates everything into existence, he says, “It was good.” However, after he created a man, we are told he states, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2.18). So God created a woman to be in relationship with this man.  Here, we see what theologians have written for centuries about our healthy need for one another. 

We are social beings. Our need for others is as real and visceral as our need for food.

However, as with food, our need for others can become skewed.  I am beginning to learn this also.  Recently, I had three dreams that dealt with abandonment.  In one of the dreams, I handled the feeling of abandonment well; in the other two, I woke up feeling as if I had a deep insecurity that came from being left by the one I love. 

It is critical that we are all in healthy relationships with others in the form of spouses, families, friends, neighbors, and communities; much of scripture deals with these essential relationships.  Yet, due to painful experiences, we can allow our relationships to define as much as our food, or even more so.

As followers of Christ, we are to see ourselves as complete in Him.  In Paul’s few letters to first-century followers of Christ, he seeks to explain the life transformation that comes from being in Christ.  In his New Testament epistles, he uses the term “in Christ” 86 times.  He obviously thought this was a critical concept we embrace.  As I read these verses, I was struck by how all our needs for food, relationships, and beyond only come into focus as we seek our significance and wholeness in Him. 

I am learning to define myself more and more by this one critical relationship with God in Christ, which is bringing more and more health to all of my relationships with food and others. 

Next week, I hope to unpack this more, but suffice it to say that I am learning to walk towards my pain, not run away from it as I have done in the past.  In other words, I face the real need I am trying to meet rather than covering it up by other means like food, people, power, prestige, sex, money, and the myriad of other false gods which the enemy of our soul convinces us are what we really need. 

I am finding freedom as I do this.  As I have faced and dealt with the pain of my deeper needs, I am experiencing freedom more and more.

The Apostle Paul states this clearly when he says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5.1)

Thanks for listening to my thoughts on this difficult subject.






One response to “Needing relationships or abandonment”

  1. […] Last week, I wrote about how being in Christ enables me to maintain the tension of healthy relationships. As we are in Christ, we respond to his love for us by keeping his commands out of our love for him.  In John 15.9-10, he tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” […]

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