Even though I believe we could discuss Emotional Needs exclusively on this blog and still not touch on every aspect of it, I’d like to add just a few more thoughts before moving on to some other topics of importance in relation to modern Christianity.
In yesterday’s blog, I used specific and–I think–obvious examples (abuse, broken families, sexuality, addictions, et cet.) of where individuals in the Church are crying out for something more than Christian jargon. Why are these such big problems in our culture? Why have they so affected individuals and the Church? And how can we address the problem if we don’t understand it?
The connection that I wanted to make yesterday, and sort of glossed over, is that these issues can drastically distort one’s image of himself. I think I finally started to understand my own Emotional Needs several years ago when I dreamed that I was trapped in one of those Fun Houses at the circus. There were mirrors everywhere I looked, each one distorting my image. One showed me that I was fatherless; one, that I was not beautiful; one, that I had nothing to say; one, that I was worthless; another, that I was to blame. On and on, the mirrors screamed at me, and after years (in my dream) of looking at these distorted images, I realized that I no longer knew what I actually looked like. Thank heavens it was only a dream! Still, it clearly illustrated my twisted sense of self and my dire need for someone (for anyone!) to look at me and see something of worth!
In my case, it wasn’t enough to just believe that I was created in God’s image. I needed the Body of Christ. I needed those individuals who spoke words of hope and truth about who I was; those who listened enough to see past my defenses and understand how tragically I have loved my father; those who saw God’s handiwork in me and reaffirmed my place in the Kingdom.
See, we are all in process. I don’t say that as an excuse for sin or justification for not being accountable; I say it because it’s true. We are all in process. If God is finished working on you, you had better check to make sure you still have a pulse. If you are living, if you are breathing, then you are in the process of being recreated in His image.
On a dvd, speaking of her song, I Then Shall Live, Gloria Gaither (one of my only modern heroes!) talks about surrounding ourselves with people who call us to be greater. It’s so important that we find that balance where we can accept another exactly as he is, but also see the gifts, the seeds of life and purpose that God has planted in him, and call him to something greater. And I think it is that acceptance that allows us to see greater things in another.
When you garden, you don’t tear a grapevine out of the ground because it has bad fruit. You choose to love your grapevine. You prune it, changing the flow of nutrients and life, so that the fruit on the vine is full and sweet. But it starts with choosing to love your plant, with committing to another year (or two…or three…or four…I mean, really…have you ever tried to grow grapes?) of tending and pruning and singing to your grapes.
So what do you say? How can we change the culture of modern Christianity to address the garbled images we have of ourselves and others? Who are the people in your life that need encouragement, affirmation, words of life and hope, a calling to something greater? And if this is not the Church’s responsibility…whose is it?