“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity» (Proverbs 17:17).
Because connecting is so difficult for us, we often try to replace it with popularity or power. We all need friends and deep, intimate relationships with other people. Connecting emotionally, knowing that we belong to a community, is as basic a need as eating or sleeping. This is supposed to be the case; it’s part of the original design! In the garden of Eden, before sin entered the world, God said, “It is not good that man should be alone: I will make him a helper comparable to him» (Genesis 2:18). We tend to forget that Adam not only did not have a wife; he also had no friends, distant cousins, or noisy neighbors. Even in Eden while enjoying perfect harmony with God, Adam needed other human beings. We were designed for this type of connection. However, because intimacy requires us to risk rejection, we often try to supplant it with popularity and power.
Popularity attracts us because it seems a lot like the feeling of being loved. To be famous, to be admired professionally, to feel indispensable: all this feels very similar to the sweetness of love. However, as thousands of rich and famous people can testify, it is possible to be surrounded by fans and followers, and still feel completely alone. A round of applause is not the same as a hug. A “Like» (or a million) is not the same as meeting someone and making a hundred percent commitment to a relationship come what may. Power, on the other hand, attracts us because it is very much like the sensation of feeling protected. We believe that the more we manage to control, the less we suffer. Ironically, while always keeping your guard up protects us, it also isolates us to a certain extent (and creates the pain we wanted to avoid).
We were created to live in a permanent connection with God and with others. Our great need to be hugged, understood, and loved by others is a reflection of divine design, not a symptom of spiritual immaturity. When we accept this reality and invest time and energy into developing authentic relationships, we grow spiritually. When we run away from intimacy (and try to supplant it with popularity and power), we become more isolated and hurt.
Dear Lord, thank You for creating me to enjoy a relationship with You and with others. I want to understand and honor Your design. If I’m evading vulnerability by using popularity, power, or other strategies, help me to notice it and repent. Needing others is not a weakness, but an essential part of my design. Thank You for creating me so wisely!