Many people struggle to have true intimacy with God or with their family. Today we’re going to look the root cause of our trouble with connecting with God, with our spouse, with our children, or with others.
God created us for intimacy. He created us in His image so we could know Him and have a relationship with Him. Adam and Eve were able to walk and talk with God in the Garden of Eden, naked and unashamed. At the Fall, sin brought shame and fear and broke the relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with God. Through them, all humans were separated from this intimacy of knowing God face to face. They forgot who they were as sons and daughters of God.
When this intimate relationship with God was lost, some basic needs started to become apparent. Before the Fall, our perfect Father God was exquisitely meeting these needs for His created children. But once sin alienated God and man, it was left to imperfect parents to meet these needs for their children and for imperfect adults to attempt to meet these needs for each other.
Four basic needs
In his book, Experiencing Father’s Embrace, Jack Frost discusses four basic needs that we all have. If they go unmet in childhood, we can have difficulty in developing healthy relationships with God and with others. This is because we tend to project our childhood experiences with the way we view and trust God, as well as how we relate to others, particularly those in authority.
- We need unconditional expressed love. We all need to be loved without limitations and without conditions. While it’s great if someone loves us unconditionally, we need it to be expressed. Children need to have love communicated in a way that’s meaningful to them. For instance, some children require a lot of physical affection to meet their need for expressed love – they may enjoy cuddling in Daddy’s lap or getting hugs and kisses. Other children may prefer that their parents express love in the form of time and attention, such as getting on the floor with them and building legos, having a pretend tea party, or teaching how to dribble a basketball.
- We have a need to feel secure and comforted. Children need to know that they are physically and emotionally safe, so if there’s a lot of anger and rage in the house, or frightening experiences, those things can become damaging to children – provoking insecurity and fear. We need an atmosphere of unconditional expressed love so that our emotional well-being is secure.
- We have a need for praise and affirmation. Children especially need that from their parents. Unfortunately, many fathers tend to be more critical than affirming, thinking this will develop children who are resilient to the challenges of the real world. In reality, a disapproving attitude sows seeds of doubt and insecurity. Dr. James Dobson, with Focus on the Family, actually says it takes 40 words of praise to counteract one word of criticism for a child’s heart. When children grow up in an atmosphere of praise and affirmation, they develop confidence in their own worth and abilities. They are better equipped to be successful in life than children whose value and worth have been sabotaged by incessant criticism.
- We also have a need for a purpose in life. Everyone needs a sense of value – a belief that their life means something and they can make a difference, and that they’re special! Every person has specific abilities and character traits that God has given them to achieve the destiny He has for them. Fathers need to cultivate these attitudes in their children, so they can be all that God wants them to be. This is where fathers can be resourceful, as they call these gifts and talents out of their children.
What if these basic needs were not met in my childhood?
Is there any hope that I can develop a true closeness with God? Can I have genuine intimacy with my spouse? Will I ever be able to connect with my children? Can I develop healthy relationships with others?
Yes! Absolutely! God put these needs inside all our hearts so that He would be able to meet them first! The good news is that Jesus has restored the intimacy that was lost when Adam and Eve first sinned. When Jesus died on the cross, He broke down the barrier between God and man. Once we were alienated, but now we have been reconciled and can walk with God as sons and daughters once again. We can have intimacy with God, and our relationships with others can be restored as well.
Even if your childhood was contaminated by anger, reckless words or criticism, or if you lacked unconditional expressed love, you do not have to remain in a prison of self-doubt, insecurity, or stunted emotional growth. You are no longer defined by your past – you are defined by who you are as a son or daughter of God, and what God says about you!
How do I heal? How do I nurture intimacy?
I promise you – the more you engage with His heart and know who He is as a Father, you will heal – regardless of what kind of fathering or mothering you had before. Your past doesn’t define you. It doesn’t define you at all. God will use it for your good, somehow, if you’ll let Him. You’ll have a testimony.
Engage with Father God and learn what He says about His unconditional love for you, and who He says that you are!
What does God say about me?
- You are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
- You have the hope of His calling – the riches of the glory of His inheritance. (Ephesians 1:18)
- You have the surpassing greatness of His power. (Ephesians 1:19)
- God is for you! Who can be against you? (Romans 8:31)
- In all things you overwhelmingly conquer! (Romans 8:37)
- Nothing can separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39).
Let your roots grow down into God’s love and make you strong. Begin to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. Experience His incomprehensible love. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
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