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Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Journey Through the Book, "The Marriage Builder," Part 2 My Response to Legitmate Personal Needs

I wanted to write down some more of my thoughts from the book, “The Marriage Builder,” by Larry Crabb. As I mentioned in previous posts, Dr. Crabb acknowledges that all human beings have legitimate personal needs--such as security and significance—that can only be met through relationships. He states:

Most of us, when we look within, can put our finger on a strong desire to love and be loved, to accept and be accepted. When we sense that someone genuinely cares about us, or when we ourselves sense a deep compassion for someone else, something profound is stirred within us I suggest that our longing for love represents one set of needs that partly defines what it means to be a person or spirit. P. 28
On page 30, Crabb contends that human beings often deal with such personal needs by any of the following means:

1. Ignoring them

2. Finding satisfaction in achievement

3. Attempting to meet their needs through another person

4. Depending on the Lord to meet these needs

Crabb says that ignoring our personal needs leads to personal death just as ignoring physical needs leads to physical death. He notes the symptoms of personal death as being “feelings of worthlessness, despair, morbid fears, loss of motivation and energy, turning to drugs or sex or alcohol to numb the pain of dying and a sense of emptiness and boredom.” P. 30. Similarly, Crabb points out that attempting to meet our personal needs through achievements also fails us as it leads to “shallow relationships” that do not satisfy at the “deepest level”. P. 31 Crabb also states that attempting to meet our needs through another person is equally disappointing. For example, he says:
A marriage bound together by commitments to exploit the other for filling one’s own needs (and I fear that most marriages are built on such a basis) can legitimately be described as a “tic on a dog” relations. Just as a hungry tic clamps on to a nourishing host in anticipation of a meal, so each partner unites with the other in the expectation of finding what his or her personal nature demands. The rather frustrating dilemma, of course, is that in such a marriage there are two tics and no dog! P. 32
He goes on to say:
Every person alive has experienced sometime the profound hurt of finding rejection when he or she longed for acceptance. We come into marriage hoping for something different, but inevitably we soon encounter some form of criticism or rejection. The pain that results is so intense that it demands relief. So we retreat behind protective walls of emotional distance, angry with our partners for letting us down so badly, unwilling to meet again at the level of deep needs for the fear of experiencing more pain…A variety of behaviors can function as protective layers. Some of the more common ones…are: unwillingness to share deep feelings; responding with anger when real feelings are hurt; changing the subject when the conversation begins to be threatening; turning off, clamming up, or other maneuvers designed to avoid rejection or criticism; keeping oneself so busy with work, social engagements, entertainment, church activities or endless chatter that no deep sharing is possible. P. 32-33
Wow. I found these observations fascinating and I would venture to say that all of us default to at least one of the above three responses when it comes to dealing with the holes in our heart—our deepest non-physical needs. Do you see where your heart tends to default? My heart tends to default in having other people meet my needs. Since my needs cannot be met by another, my heart is easily disappointed and I quickly build up protective layers that inhibit intimacy—truly knowing and being known by others. As I have discussed in previous posts, this intimacy is something that God desires for His people to experience—firstly and most deeply with Him, secondly in marriage, and thirdly in the family of God.

The fourth option of dealing with our personal needs is to depend on the Lord to meet them. Crabb rightly points out that:

Our personal needs for security and significance can be genuinely and fully met only in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. To put it another way, all that we need to function effectively as persons (not necessarily to feel happy or fulfilled) is at any given moment fully supplied in relationship with Christ and whatever he chooses to provide.

1. We need to be secure. He loves us wit a love we never deserved, a love that sees everything ugly within us yet accepts us, a love that we can do nothing to increase or decrease, a love that was forever proven at the Cross, where Christ through His shed blood fully paid for our sins to provide us with the gift of an eternally loving relationship with God. In that love I am secure.

2. We need to be significant. The Holy Spirit has graciously and sovereignly equipped every believer to participate in God’s great purpose of bringing all things together in Christ The body of Christ builds itself up through the exercise of each member’s gifts. We are enabled to express our value by ministering to others, encouraging our spouses, training our children, enduring wrong without grumbling, and faithfully doing everything to the limits of our capacity for the glory of God. We can live in the confidence of knowing that God has sent out a path of good works for each of us to follow (Eph. 2:10) and that our obedience will contribute to fulfilling the eternal plan of God. These truths, when realized and acted upon, provide unparalleled significance. P. 34-35
Wow!!!!! Christ has truly met our need for security and significance in a way that really satisfies. Why then do we still look to things that do not satisfy?

Psalm 34: 8-10 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
How true is this! Why do I forget?

As Crabb says in his book, "Our dulled eyes of faith strain to keep these spiritual realities in clear focus.  We have a remarkable capacity for failing to lay old of ideas that I suppose would seem clear to undiluted faith."
What would my relationships with others (and especially with my husband) look like if I constantly remembered and lived out of this reality?  

Do you see how this book is about so much more than marriage?  More on this next time...

1 comment:

Scott Pierce said...

I haven't wondered through the whole of your site but curious since this was written back in '09 if you have any further insight given the time that has passed?