As hard as it is for me to admit that I have needs, it is nonetheless true that not only do I need others, but they need me. We need each other, and this a good thing—by God’s design–for our mutual benefit. As God said in Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone.” I am increasingly convinced that this truth isn’t just about Adam needing a partner. And it isn’t just about marriage, either. I believe that it is a statement of fact—it isn’t good for anyone to be alone.
Yet it is also true that sometimes the truth of it isn’t tangibly felt…..
Many among us can think of countless times we felt a peculiar mix of need, despair, and helplessness that comes from wanting to belong, knowing we should be connected, even feeling disconnected to the Body of Christ. Yet at the same time we can feel isolation, despair, and loneliness that comes from not really fitting in, or at least feeling as if that was so.
I was ten when I experienced my first significant disappointment with God. I stood on the steps of a church in Colon, Panama Canal Zone (see photo above), after a ceremony that I understood to be my final commitment to enter a personal relationship with God and He would take care of me from there. As I pondered the events of the afternoon, my thoughts were comparing what I expected with what happened. Nothing happened internally for me. I concluded, “I’m not different, my parents aren’t different; God may be real, but He isn’t going to take care of me; I guess I am going to have to take care of myself.”
That’s what I believed about the world of faith and religion. I was a 10 year old agnostic, believing God may or may not exist, but it wasn’t going to make a difference in my life in any tangible way.
As time went by, living according to that belief for 17 years, the world was proving to be impossible to conquer on my own. In spite of hard work and the best intentions, life was continuing to disappoint. At 27 years old, I was thoroughly disillusioned, vacillating between anger and despair.
While in the despair end of my cycle, I choked out my own version of the sinner’s prayer:
“Lord, I know I’ve made a mess of everything in my life and for my kids. If you are real, I want you in my life. I never again want to make another decision without You. Oh, and God, I’ll give You a chance, but I don’t want anything to do with Your people.”
It’s been almost 50 years since voicing that prayer and now know even better than I did then, just how much of a mess can be made “taking care of myself.” When working in my own strength, even in ministry, I can identify with Paul, “I, the least of the apostles have been chosen.”
Some things have rooted themselves permanently in my soul and psyche. I still pray for the reality of God to permeate my life, not wanting to make personal or ministry decisions without him. I’ve come to a strong conviction of the rightness of the first three sentences of my prayer when I was first born into my life in Christ. I praise God for my salvation and his Lordship.
But the last line of my prayer didn’t stand the test of time. “God, I’ll give you a chance, but I don’t want anything to do with your people.” I’ve lived to regret that last line.
I was so wrong. The condition I placed on my commitment to God caused a blind spot that cost me greatly. Because I held His people at bay, not letting them know what was going on. I faced my husband’s alcoholism, my children’s abuse issues, my ongoing difficulties with my own personal healing, . . . faced them all without the benefit of the wisdom, comfort, and strength God gives through his Body. I remained closed.
The details of how I got from there to where I am now are for another time, another article. But I have changed; my mind and heart no longer believe as I used to about God’s people.
I began to see that the Lord has a purpose for me together with all the saints. I am part of the together-with-all-the-saints for them. And you, readers of this blog post, are part of the “together” for me and for them as well. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak.
Ephesians 3:17-19: “And you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
So what does it all mean? ……. I don’t know it all yet!
But one thing I do know: the Bible is true and it says “together with all the saints” we will have power to understand God’s love. “Together with all the saints” we can experience the breadth, the width, the length, the heights and depths of God’s love and live a life full of the fullness of God. That’s the plan.
It’s no mystery then, that Where Grace Abounds’ ministry is focused on group experiences for people whose lives are in conflict over sexual feelings and/or behavior or that of someone they love. People need to hear the thoughts and feelings of others who have waded in the same deep currents that they themselves are currently experiencing. We all need to know that we are not alone; the Lord has designed it so…to “bear one another’s burdens.”
Need to be convinced or to read more? I know nothing better than the scriptures cited herein, and the book of 1John, upon which Reuben Welch based his book: We Really Do Need Each Other, published in 1972, 1983, and again in 1990. Read it again and again; the world needs for us all to catch this vision, then live it out–we all really need each other.
Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.
Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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