Christian Counseling: People Who Need People

Are you a person who needs people? If you are a member of the human race, the answer is yes, even though you may not feel it, want it or only marginally like people.

Since God is a highly relational Person and we are created in His likeness, we all start out in birth (save biological abnormalities) with an ocean size, unquenchable desire for meaningful relationship with Him and others. The problem for all of us lies in the series of universal, negative relational experiences (criticism, rejection, being made fun of, betrayal, used, and the like) resulting from people’s expression of their inherited sin nature and the evil that lives in this world.

There are those that can’t overcome or give up pursuing their need for closeness and connectedness with others. Some of these hopefuls get bruised and battered over and over, but hang in there in despite a deeply troubled relationship. In a verbally, emotionally or physically abusive relationship, too many hang in there in a cyclical, destructive pattern way too long. Most do so out of various beliefs and feelings, such as: “a bad relationship is better than no relationship,” self-doubt, financial worries, guilt and fear of being all alone. Often, anxiety and/or depression invade their personal lives and grab hold for a lifetime. In frustration, they sometimes wish they could be strong enough to say no to a person or a bad relationship and then move on to find a good one. The unfortunate reality is they usually make a major change in the relationship only when their love is spent and heart shredded, sometimes beyond repair. These persons frequently end up distancing themselves from others to protect what little is left of their heart and faith in humanity.

Deeply troubling life experiences tempt us to distance ourselves from others and even ourselves to protect us from further pain of grief, fear and anger. Defensive distancing is not just what we do with others, but also ourselves. We may desperately need relational connection and intimacy, but chose to deny it, cover it over, ignore it and/or hide it, so that it appears to others and even to ourselves that we really don’t have much relational appetite. Some channel their relational needs into one outlet, such as, romantic love or sex, much to their own trouble. Many distance themselves from others rather than facing their core of pain, which is seriously destabilizing and extremely painful, especially if they have little to no hope that the outcome of future relationships will be any better. They may reason that people will be people; that is, in the end or when the chips are down, uncaringly selfish. Isolation may feel safer than risking intimacy or needing people.

Whatever the thinking (“I can be fine without love” or “people”) and behavior (self-protective distancing), it doesn’t undo the truth that every human heart has a hole in it. It is the size of the hole in our hearts that distinguishes one from another. Consider the hole created by what some call “birth trauma.” Imagine the quiet and peaceful environment, the soothing, rhythmic sound of a beating heart and the 24-hour womb service from which we all are sharply awakened when birthed into a scary world of frigid cold, frightening noises and probing giants, who slap us into loud, startling crying, and having to suddenly learn to draw a first breath and eat from the mouth. To a newborn, earth is a seemingly hostile and unfriendly planet that is light years away from the pleasure and safety of the womb. It is not just mothers who have pain in childbirth. We all experience many traumatic moments in our lives that challenge our need for people and even God.

Are you a person who needs people and allows yourself to need them? Some wrongly believe they only need God, thereby, keeping others out of the depth of their lives. Do you see an alternative to self-protective distancing or hanging on to a destructive relationship?

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