“All I ever wanted was for someone to love me.” It’s the universal cry of the human heart. At the core of who we are, we long for safe, loving, committed relationships. Creation was not complete until God said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion” (Gen. 2:18, MSG). Free…loved…intimate…one flesh…for a while, it was perfect.
But you don’t have to read very far in the Bible to realize that even in paradise, things can go wrong. Evil lurks, tempts. Eve bites the apple. Adam caves in. Soon they’re blaming each other—and this is before their children arrived on the scene, entangling them in a mess!
Sound familiar? The family landscape in America today is riddled with brokenness.•
Between 40 and 50 percent of today’s marriages end in divorce.
• 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
• 1 in 3 children live in single-parent homes or do not live with their parents at all.
So much today competes for and tears at our love in relationships. Growing up without dad, coming from a divorced family, being abused or hurt by someone you should be able to trust, and a bad breakup are just a few factors.
Before long, distance grows. Anger festers. Hearts wander. And love grows cold. Filled with hurt, and maybe with rejection and aloneness as well, we pull inward to protect our hearts. Empty yet expecting, we often fill the holes in our souls with work, play, entertainment, or addiction—other “lovers” to give us purpose, meaning, and value. But still, our hearts ache for something more.
Our need for relationship is just as powerful—and just as real—as our need for food. Researchers at the University of Dartmouth Medical School report that “from the time a baby is born, a baby’s brain is biologically already formed to connect in relationships.” At the heart of it, the modern day crisis is a lack of connectedness—with other people and with God. Recent advances in neuroscience show that our brains are literally hardwired for intimacy.
Life is all about relationships, including at work, in church, politics, sports, extracurricular activities, with friends, parents, and roommates, and in the context of dating, marriage, family and school. Relationships matter, and at the end of the day, they are all that really matters.
What makes for a healthy dating relationship? A strong marriage? Effective parenting? Intimacy with God? How do you get along with the people you can’t stand? How do you heal from broken relationships in your past that keep you up at night? How do you win friends and influence people?
How we “do” or “don’t do” relationships is deeply affected by core relational beliefs developed throughout life. The way we think, feel and act is shaped by how they answer several critical questions:
• Am I loveable?
• Am I worthy of being loved?
• Are others capable of loving me?
• Are they accessible when I need them?
Discovering how to answer these questions accurately has a tremendous impact on how we go through life. How we see God. Ourselves. Other people. How we connect in relationships.
We must commit ourselves to build deep, satisfying relationships. Often, we will feel “stuck” or will have lost hope. We are struggling to build solid friendships. To have a healthy dating relationship. To nurture intimacy in our marriage. To parent well. To cope with the loss of a family member or friend. To grow in our relationship with God.
Whether you help couples, dads, moms, kids, or college students, you have a huge opportunity to walk with alongside others in the journey of growth and change as they connect with God and with the people they love in a deeper way.
As you read this article, my prayer is that you will be challenged, encouraged, and equipped as you minister to others. Your work matters and it brings great joy to God’s heart to work through you to help people build deep, intimate, healthy relationships.