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Why am I so needy? Is there peace?

You are obviously in a great wilderness in which all the paths appear to be the same; that is, they go nowhere. The path to peace is found in getting God’s perspective on your life – past, present and future.

Most of our problems can be traced to a belief system that is “out of kilter“. When we consider that we entered this world dead to the true source of love and acceptance it becomes obvious that we are going to develop a belief system that is not lined up with God’s belief system. You may remember a passage in Hebrews (3:1-13) in which God states that in 40 years in the wilderness with Israel they failed to learn His ways and thus they would never enter His rest. Please do not hear me trying to heap guilt on you. I am simply pointing out that the way to peace and rest is in understanding God’s ways (His belief system) and discarding our own.

Because we have such a long history with our belief system it is very difficult sometimes to distinguish truth from fiction. For example, as a child you may have experienced a dad who was aloof and never held you or told you how special you are to him. This is an indirect form of rejection. God has wired each of us to have a need to feel that we are special to someone. As a little kid we look to mom and dad to communicate that to us. If we don’t receive it from them then we develop a belief that we are unlovable and worthless. We then begin to do things to try to milk our love needs out of others. Some might do it by forcing themselves on others. Some might do it by becoming a “door mat” to someone they view a potential source of love.

Sometimes the problem becomes worst after we become Christians because of bad teaching about God’s belief system. For example, some might believe that God planned from the beginning for mothers to work at home and not in the business world. Is this true? Is it found in the Scriptures or is it a belief that was “picked up” based on experiences with mom and the teaching from the pulpit and radio? Way back in the 1600s, an English preacher – Richard Baxter stated, “In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity (unconditional love and acceptance).” The point is simply this: if the scriptural evidence is not hard and incontestable then God has granted us liberty in this area.

I realize I am only dealing with a symptom when I deal with this particular issue, but I hope by chasing it to a conclusion you will be better equipped to deal with other related issues. The scriptures teach that we are to train our kids in the way they should go, we are to rear them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (specifically written to fathers) and we are to teach them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise up. One might conclude that both mom and dad should spend all their time at home to pull off this monumental responsibility, but that’s not practical. Neither is it always practical for either mom or dad to be home always with the kids. Our God is a practical God. Yes we are ultimately responsible to communicate God to our kids, but there is liberty to use all the resources at our disposal, including the church programs, the school programs, grandparents, etc. to fulfill that obligation. Yes God has laid a burden on us, but it is not heavy. He has provided many supporters to help us shoulder the load.

What is most important is that you reach a state of mental and emotional peace. Let’s look at God’s prescription for a fulfilling life to find out how.

Take the time now to read Romans 11:36 through 12:8. I’ll wait.

11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him {be} the glory forever. Amen.

12:1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship.

12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

12:6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {let each exercise them accordingly}: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

12:7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

12:8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

OK. Let’s look at what Paul is saying. First, you need to know the purpose of your existence, the reason you are alive. Paul says in 11:36 that the reason is that God might be glorified (honored in everything we believe and do). If you are going to find peace in your life you first have to establish in your mind this inescapable truth: I exist for the purpose of bringing honor to my creator and Father. Ask God to make this truth real to you. Say it over and over until you know in your heart that you believe it. Allow the images of your spouse, children, church family, work associates, etc. to cross your mind as you pray this prayer over and over.

Next, notice in verse one that you are urged to “present your body (the totality of your being) as a living and holy sacrifice.” What he is talking about here is a total surrender to God of whatever your perceptions are of what your life is suppose to look like and be like. God is asking you to lay all of your experiences (good and bad) on the altar. He is asking you to lay your hopes and dreams on the altar. Empty yourself out on the altar. Do it verbally in prayer. Recite to God all of your hopes and dreams. Recite to Him the disasters and the joys of your life. Tell Him everything that is on your mind and authorize Him to use it all to His glory. Notice that you are urged to do this “by the mercies of God.” Chapters 1 through 11 are about His goodness and mercy toward you. He saved you from the road that would take you to Hell. He forgave you of all your sins. He crucified your old self in Christ and created a new life in your spirit as your spirit and His became one. He gave you power over Satan and the ability to experience peace. These things He did because He loves you and accepts you unconditionally. He can be trusted, this is why you are urged to “present your body.” He has a good plan for you, so trust Him and dump it all on the altar for Him to consume.

Third, in verse 2, be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The mind needs to be renewed because it is full of half truths and lies. There is a lot of stuff that we believe “that just ain’t so.” Let me recommend a few good books to help you sort through some of this. In all that you read be prayerfully discerning. You also might consider visiting with a discipler at one of the counseling offices I will list at the end of this letter. This is where you work out the past so that you can practically leave it behind and move forward. Let me point out a key element essential to your ultimate success: Remember that true peace is a “knowing” and not a “feeling.” When Jesus was at Gethsemane praying just before His crucifixion, the scripture says He was sweating drops of blood. His emotions were at a 15 on a 10 point scale. Had He lost His peace? No, He had a peace of mind and a resolute will to live a life that would honor His Father. In His mind He knew the truth (that His Father would ultimately rescue – not from crucifixion, but from death) and the truth gave Him peace so that in the midst of His intense emotional struggle, He chose with His will to submit to His Father’s will and press on. You, too, will have to bite the bullet from time to time and declare that your feelings are out of line with reality and by an act of your will you must choose to go God’s way. This will be a test of your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ. It is a test for your benefit, not His. Know that He believes in you.

Often when we are struggling it is fairly common for resentments to deny us peace. Resentments are usually the result of our placing an expectation (law) on someone else, believing they owe us the fulfillment of that expectation. If they don’t or won’t then we feel frustration, anger, resentment and finally bitterness. Paul says, “And my God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Certainly God intends to use your family and friends as part of meeting your needs. The point, however, is that He wants you to look to Him and allow Him to decide the best way to satisfy that need in your life. To get past resentments four things are required: (1) Confession to your Heavenly Father that by looking to others to meet your love needs you have behaved idolatrously, (2) You need to receive His forgiveness, (3) You need to forgive those who have hurt you and failed you and (4) Determine never to remind them of their failures toward you again. This will provide the same kind of relief to your soul that it provided to God when in Isaiah 43:25 He states, “I am the one who wipes out your transgressions [forgive the hurts you have caused me] for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins [never bring them up to you again].“

Fourth, in verses 3-5, “do not think more highly of yourself than you ought.” Another way of saying this, develop an accurate view of yourself. Great, how do you do that? Again go to God’s word. If you can discern how God sees you, then you will know how to see yourself. God says that you are a new creation, holy, blameless and beyond reproach (or accusation), that you have died and that your life is hidden (protected) with Christ in God and that Christ is now your life (the source of your courage, strength, love, goodness, fulfillment – all that you need). This is not a cause for personal pride but for humility, knowing that God loved you so much that He chose you and has done everything necessary to draw you into a deep and intimate relationship with Him.

Also, implied in these verses is the absolute necessity of understanding what spiritual gift(s) the Holy Spirit has assigned to you. Notice that he says “all members do not have the same function.” Our function within the Body of Christ is determined in large measure by the spiritual gift(s) which we have been given. It is through these gifts and your unique personality that Christ expresses Himself to the people around you in a life changing way. Study the passages related to spiritual gifts carefully and read the book I have indicated at the end of this letter.

Finally, in verses 6-8, exercise your gift(s) appropriately. Satan will attempt to cause us to abuse your gift(s) in hopes of offending or creating dissension. This can be avoided by obtaining a proper understanding of the purpose of the gift(s). They are there to be used to fulfill the Great Commission by revealing Christ to a lost world and to equip (mend, heal and train) believers for the work of Christ within the Church.

These things must be done in this order, but it is not a magic formula. God may zap a fix in some areas and appear to do “nothing” in others. What we are talking about here is your practical sanctification. Because of your salvation, God calls you a saint (a holy one) and you are at the depths of your being. The practical working out of your sainthood is called sanctification. Paul says we should work out our salvation (sanctification) in fear (awe) and trembling (amazement) because it is God in us working to cause us to operate in ways that will bring glory to Him. In fact the bottom line reason you feel that you are “so needy” is that God in you is causing you to search out the truth about yourself and Himself so that you can experience the freedom that is yours in Christ simply to be yourself…the precious life God intended you to be. Know that God is proud of you.