How healthy would you say your relationships are? What about your friendship with God?
Some posts back, I wrote about how we were made for relationships. This is the core of who we are. Think about how many people you interact with throughout your day, including the people at the grocery store, the drive thru window, or the airport.
How many minutes in your day involve contact with a person?
Contemplate that question and then I invite you to really contemplate the next one.
How many minutes of your day involve contact with God?
Really think about that question for a minute. If your answer is anything less than 1440 minutes a day, I invite you to reflect on it again.
God interacts with us in every minute of our day, whether we recognize it or not. His hands are all over everything in our lives, resulting in 1440 minutes a day of contact.
Now think about how many minutes of those 1440 that you actually pause to actively interactive with God through your senses, gifts and talents. That number will vary for each of us, some its many minutes and for others not as many as we would like.
What would our lives look like if we interacted more with God?
Would we have disordered attachments? Would our relationships be healthier? Would life look a tad bit different? Our sorrows turn into joy? Our fear into trust?
I’ve been reading a book called Changed Heart, Changed World: The Transforming Freedom of Friendship with God, by William Barry, SJ. In one section of the book he talks about healthy relationships with others and with God. One key point he speaks about is “inordinate attachments” caused by fear.
Fear can be just and right when it comes to meeting a bear in the woods and our adrenaline begins to rush to find a route of escape for survival. This is healthy and is an instinct God has given to us to act and protect ourselves. On the flip side is the unhealthy side of fear that creeps in due to lack of trust. This side of fear becomes harmful to our relationships, especially when it comes to our friendship with God.
When Peter began to walk on water and began to sink, it was the result of fear, lack of trust. Jesus was right there, why was he afraid? How often in our own lives does fear creep in and we don’t see Jesus with us in the midst of it. We don’t actively engage with Him, interactive with Him and our trust slips through our fingers.
I bet if you sat down and analyzed the things right now that cause you fear, you would be amazed at what would surface. Some people fear financial loss, illness, fear of loss in a relationship, fear of being an empty nester, fear of change, fear of your kids getting into trouble, etc. What about the fear of the next step, making the right choice in the next minute? All of this fear is a result of some level of mistrust – lack of trust in God, yourself or others. At the end of the 1440 minutes, it boils down to trust in those three relationships and primarily trust in your friendship with God. When we lack trust in relationships, disordered attachment in the world tend to sprout up like little weeds in our garden. These weeds may strangle or have short term or lasting impact on our relationship with God, self and others. How do we recognize them and how do we work on them to improve the health-o-meter in our relationships?
An example where fear can be a disordered attachment is being afraid that your spouse will leave you for another woman because you aren’t pretty enough. As a result, you do things to change your body and demeanor outside of who God created you. This creates some control over the situation for you in trying to prevent your spouse from leaving you for another woman. You become fixated on beautifying yourself, changing who you are in the perfect image of God because you are afraid. You are afraid of loss of a relationship and because of it, you impact not only the relationship with yourself and perhaps your spouse but also the your relationship with God.
William Barry, in the book gives an example of a friend who has said something about you and you are afraid to speak to them about it. It continues to bug you and creates a discomfort and lack of trust when you are around your friend. In order to free both of you in the relationship, it’s imperative for you to speak about it. Out of fear of loss, you are unable to resolve the situation with care of the friendship but do so out of care for self by not speaking to your friend, resulting in an unhealthy state in the relationship.
Does this happen in our friendship with God?
Instead of interacting with Him in conversation, our fears and sins create a mistrust in who He is for us, driving a wedge in our relationship. If we become fixated on these fears, we turn less to God and turn more to ourselves, creating a gap in that relationship. What happens when we lose that trust in God in our circumstances and take control of the wheel? Do we become more open to disordered chaos and vices in our lives, our relationships?
What do we do to squash disordered attachments such as those created by fear?
Prayer, in my book, is always the number one step. Ask God to help you to see where there may be disordered attachments, where fear has crept in. Let God begin to uncover the weeds so that you can work on removing them, allowing new life to sprout in the garden of your heart.
After praying about it and seeing what God reveals, the next step is to create an action plan to reorder this attachment in accordance with God’s Will.
The third step would be to simply take action. Use the tools God has given you to bring life and health into all your relationships – with God, yourself and others.
One of my latest favorite songs is “The God Who Stays” by Matthew West. Take a minute and listen to the lyrics. In the song he describes a God who never gives up and never leaves – a God we can trust to always be there even when we feel we have lost the world around us. This very God knows all the things we have done, yet never abandons us. So why should we abandon Him. When fear creeps in, interact with God and find an exuberant amount of trust in “the God who stays.” After all, He is interacting with us 1440 minutes a day.