The Power of Relationships
It is a well-known medical and scientific fact that life without significant relationships is not only meaningless, but very unhealthy.
In his book, The Broken Heart, James Lynch says, "Most of the people I deal with have at the root of their physical problems the problem of loneliness. They may well be living with someone, or indeed in a busy, bustling family atmosphere but they do not know what it is to experience a close relationship. The lonely are twice as likely to suffer physical problems as those who enjoy a warm relationship with at least one other person."
Dr. Bernard Steinzor in his book, The Healing Partnership, says, "The person who feels completely alone and has lost hope of a relationship will become a patient in the wards of a mental hospital or bring their life to an end through suicide."
Sydney Jourard in his book, The Transparent Self, said, "Every maladjusted person is someone who has not made himself known to another human being and in consequence he does not know himself. Nor can he be himself. More than that, he struggles actively to avoid becoming known by another human being. He works ceaselessly at it day and night. And it is work!"
Selwyn Hughes wrote, "We come to know ourselves only as we know how to relate effectively to others. A person who is known in a loving, trusting relationship by at least one other human being, is rich indeed and will have little fear about facing the world."
Hughes also wrote, "We all need to be close to someone, so never apologize for the longing that you find within you for a relationship. It was built into you by the Creator and is therefore part of a divine design." I certainly agree with Hughes in that "only in the context of relationships can the deepest longings of our being be met and satisfied."
The reality is that we not only need a right relationship with God but healthy relationships with one another. This is why open, trusting, accepting and non-judgmental groups are such a powerful entity at a time when much of life has become technical and impersonal.
Rowland Croucher, writing in Grid, said, "More than 85 percent of small group participants of all ages say that as a result of their participation they feel better about themselves, are more open and honest with themselves, are better able to forgive others, and have been helped to serve people outside the groups."
We can live successfully without having to be in a romantic relationship, but we cannot live a worthwhile life nor can we grow outside of meaningful relationships. As the Bible teaches, "It is not good to be alone." If you can't find a small group in your church, may I suggest that you start one yourself. An effective group, however, is where people are open and honest, share their struggles and sorrows as well as their joys—and where members listen, love and accept without any kind of judgment, sermonizing, giving advice—or trying to fix people.
"The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'"1
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to find a safe group where I can be truly connected to caring and loving friends. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Genesis 2:18 (NIV).