You are not the source. You can’t be; you’re a creature, a created being. You cannot generate life from within yourself no matter how hard you try. Like a cut flower, you begin to die the moment you become disconnected from your source. So how can you find and maintain the lifeline you need to grow and thrive?
You know this is important. You may have heard reports of infants who had all their physical needs met, but without loving human connection they failed to grow and thrive. Among the worst experiences human beings can be subjected to is solitary confinement. The mind quite literally can go crazy without connection to other minds in some way. Children (or others) who are abused make emotional bonds with their abuser(s) rather than be cut off from connection.
Jesus pointed to Himself as our lifeline. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Maintaining intimacy with Him is our most important need.
And as humans we also need people. By itself intimacy with God was not enough even for Jesus. Time with His Father was Jesus’ first priority, but He needed and sought deep human connection as well. Relationships are messy; they were for Jesus too. But who are your Peter, James, and John?
Here are three ways we can respond when we feel the need for connection and intimacy.
Trying to Go It Alone
You’ve been hurt – by people. Who hasn’t? Welcome to the club. It’s part of the human condition.
AND, that kind of pain makes you put up walls to keep from getting hurt again. In some way, or in many ways, you hide – from yourself, from others, from God. People; who needs them anyway? But you do need life, goodness, satisfaction, something. So you scramble to work more, try harder, dig deeper, to figure it out and make it happen. You’re on your own.
And maybe that works for a little while. But sooner or later the emptiness is overwhelming and you turn again to any place that’s brought you a moment of relief – alcohol, porn, Netflix, food, buying things, work, entertainment, something.
We do this with religion as well. More Bible study or Christian media ought to fix me. Doing more good works for God should work, right? But sooner or later the spiritual high wears off and you feel just as alone.
How’s it working for you, trying to do it on your own?
Grasping for Nourishment
Or perhaps you go to people to fill you up. More social media likes. Parties with “friends.” Volunteering at church to the point it wears you out. If you’re in a public sphere, more influence and applause. You run from one relationship to another, perhaps sexually involved, hoping to find the right “one” to make you feel OK. Perhaps you get married, expecting Adam or Eve to fill you up.
Again, maybe that works for a little while. If enough people say nice things to or about you perhaps you can start to believe it. The sex floods your brain with feel-good chemicals. If you’re married your spouse is at least there (hopefully). But at some point the applause turns to criticism. The sexual high fades. Your spouse pulls away. And you’re left with the only human you will never leave – yourself.
Spiritually, this looks like begging God for help. “Please take away my porn addiction!” “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” “Fix my spouse!” Expecting God to do something by telehealth rarely works. And if it seems to work for a moment, it almost never lasts.
Learning to Stay Connected
The lifeline you need to grow and thrive is to stay connected. Remember, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.” God doesn’t ship wholeness, healing, satisfaction, transformation to you via Amazon Prime. The only ways to get life is to stay connected.
And that’s different from grasping, demanding God or others fill you up with some magic elixir from a distance. The invitation is to connect with a Person, and with a few persons. Getting filled up is almost a side effect. The branch does get filled with sap from the vine, but it’s not going after the sap; its effort is expended in staying connected and the sap comes. So it is with us and God and others.
With people, that looks like pursuing intimacy – letting the walls down around your heart, seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, learning to risk vulnerably, dealing with your own stuff so that you become capable of deeper connection, learning the give and take of messy but authentic human relationship. That’s first with your spouse if you’re married. And regardless of relationship status, that means finding your Peter, James, and John.
With God, that looks like being with Jesus in ways that bring transformation. Your brain may have a faulty picture of God, so you walk the sometimes long road to heal and change that. When your feelings don’t “feel” God, you pursue Him, wait for Him, and choose to believe He is there just like the sun is shining behind the clouds. You keep coming back and keep saying Yes.
The lifeline you need to grow and thrive is connection.
As humans, the connection we need that brings life is tenuous with people, but like Jesus we pursue it anyway. And with God, it’s much more the vine holding the branch than us doing the holding. Our stance is much more resting. You just stick around.
Don’t leave. Stay connected. That’s your life.
Your Turn: What have you been treating as a lifeline to grow and thrive? Are you satisfied with what you’ve experienced? How do you need to stay connected to the source? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- Trying to do it on your own won’t work. Desperately grasping to others or even to God won’t work. The lifeline you need to grow and thrive is to simply stay connected. Tweet that.
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