For many people, that would be God who’s missing. He’s absent because they’ve hidden from Him due to an illusion they harbor (a voice in their head) that tells them there is either something they’ve done or some inherent component about themselves that makes them unacceptable and unlovable.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing wrong with anyone. God is always a forgiving God and He loves everyone.
Nevertheless, many of these people cling tenaciously to their presuppositions and it brings them unparalleled misery. It stems from personality changes that result from stinking thinking. We’ve been examining this process in detail (seeing as how our very lives are at stake) since mid-July, beginning with the post How the Devil Stole Your Soul.
The damage to one’s life has been easily apparent, as we’ve seen what happens when fear, anger, obsessing over the past, self-centeredness and an inability to communicate grips his or her persona. It brings havoc to every facet of life, ultimately tearing away the joy from its very center of life, which is relationships -relationships with God, self and others.
God tells us that relationships are everything; but these poor souls don’t experience them or what they do participate in is a hollow shell of what a relationship could be. Now, we’ll look at how they cope…
We’ve seen that people who do not love themselves, live in fear that relationships with others will mirror that lack of self-love. Feeling this way, they shrink away from connecting with others because they believe it will only bring pain. Thus, they busy themselves with religiosity, addictions or self-improvement – all in a fruitless search for happiness.
However, loneliness brings its own measure of pain as well. Eventually, most lonely people reach a point where they can no longer suppress their need for love and begin to blindly search for scraps of it wherever they think it may be found.
Yet their strategies are amiss.
One such strategy is to become a ‘people-pleaser’ – always giving, trying to show someone how you would like to be loved through your actions towards them. Still, it always seems to be a one-way street, one where your needs are never fulfilled. Instead, you find yourself performing for your partner to check their wrath, or to try to glean some smidgen of acceptance. Your hopeless hope is that if you do enough good things for them, they will magically figure out all your needs and meet them. Highly unlikely.
Another strategy (?) is to throw common sense aside and ditch your boundaries.
We are all one in the eyes of God, yet we are each unique – someone whom God created to bring a contribution to His children that no other person can bring. So there is a boundary that demarcates us as a distinct creation, a limit that says, ‘Within this border is me and outside my border exist others.’
When we’ve been beat up by life and scramble to find relief, we let our solid boundaries become ‘fuzzy lines.’ We lose the ability to decide what is good for us because we now base our level of happiness on the amount of acceptance we can get from others. In other words, we begin to mesh with the desires of others (whether or not they are good for us) and lose track of who is responsible for our feelings, beliefs, choices, or actions.
Thus we invite problematic relationships: idealizing even the most toxic kind, afraid of losing what is actually harmful to us, enduring punishment, shame, or condemnation in order to avoid abandonment. We try to compel our ‘partner’ to love us. However, you can’t make anyone love you.
Yet another strategy is to go one the hunt for ‘the One,’ you know, that perfect person who doesn’t have your flaws and will love you perfectly – the one who can save you.
If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t have to hunt. Love from others would be naturally attracted to the availability and invitation that your inner love would radiate outwards. But when you hunt, your desperation is palpable and it only attracts other hunters.
A hunter is loneliness personified – a desolation begotten from self-rejection. So the hunt begins for ‘The One’ who will make you whole and your world come together. Ironically, that voice in your head encourages you to hunt, because it is backhandedly implying that you are not able to provide the love you need for yourself, i.e. you need The One.
If you cannot provide love for yourself, you will have a difficult time recognizing it when others offer love to you. And should you think you found The One that voice will tell you that he or she is not, because true love means certain death for that rascal.
Desperate love hunters (and they’re all desperate), attract other hunters who live at the same level of suffering; and in the initial rush of attraction, they blind themselves to any ‘red flag’ characteristics their potential partner may possess in order to fill their aching need for intimacy.
Indeed, the hunter looks at ‘The One’ with rose-colored glasses, trying to paint the ideal romance – only seeing the similarities that they share with their new partner, (i.e. the things they like best in themselves). They think, ‘This is it!’ And they let their walls down, giddy with the notion of being in love.
Eventually though, each hunter’s stuff (their differences) begin to surface and the romantic dream begins to fray at the edges. The differences are perceived as problems that impede their agenda.
Instead of seeing how these dissimilarities might be seeds for growth, you begin to make your partner wrong for having them. Suddenly, you remember what was wrong with your previous relationship – mystified that the same problem is showing up again, refusing to see that you might be the creator or at least the co-creator of it.
Your answer for ‘fixing’ the problem may be to try to make your partner change by demonstrating for them the perfect way you do the things that need to be done. (At this point, you are judging them, blinding yourself to who they really are. You’ve formed an opinion steeped in self-righteousness. Thus, your partner must be wrong, and what’s wrong about them is the thing you see in them that you don’t accept about yourself. So, most of the time, it’s not your partner that’s the problem.)
Now, the relationship doesn’t’ feel safe and your partner can feel your mistrust. Resentment builds on both sides – each thinking the other should try to be more like them. Competition begins for both attention and control, each seeing the other as the malevolent perpetrator and themselves as the victim who makes all the sacrifices.
Survival strategies ensue – either passively modeling the behavior they want to see from the other or aggressively punishing by withholding love, spewing degrading or caustic speech, or distancing themselves to avoid facing their past once more.
The old hurts begin to surface and outward conflict begins. Each sees the other as the enemy but inwardly believes the relationship is failing because of some lack they themselves possess. Ultimately, one will either anesthetize him or herself, or they will walk away. Either way, the unresolved issues remain dormant until the next ‘One’ shows up and another cycle repeats.
Some poor souls will stay in these toxic relationships because they believe that what they perceive as scraps of love will be enough to survive on as they wait expectantly for that highly intermittent dole out. In that space, they say ‘yes’ to vile things, afraid that their ‘no’ would bring abandonment.
The only way a healthy nurturing relationship can work is if we make a continuing choice to be related, bringing our love and compassion to it, live out a commitment to be present with our partner, and stay awake to whatever life is offering.
Most people can’t get to that space because their focus is always upon their own needs. They bring no empathy, compassion, love or understanding. What they bring is self-defense and control. And then they wonder why their relationships don’t last.
When you practice relationship this way (and it’s hard work), you never have the presence of mind to experience the love you seek.
No wonder people have such a hard time with relationships and / or give up on them altogether. It’s because there is no love brought to the relationship because neither have invited God (through Christ) into it. After all, He is love, our primary source for love, and our model for sharing it.
So, is there a solution to all of the heartsick mind abuse that so many of us have heaped upon ourselves? ABSOLUTELY!!
Good night and God bless.