What has become evident to me over the past four years is the similarity of the progression that takes place during these times of connection. There is a specific prayer request (presenting problem) that usually morphs into an underlying deeper issue. Although the content changes from individual to individual, what is common to most is a deep desire for intimacy and safety, both in the moment and in life overall.
This need to be both known and safe is universal – and it is why many seek counseling. It is also a primary motive for many to join together in small community groups, such as our ‘life groups’ at our church. We need to know that we matter, that our pain and our successes do not go unnoticed. We need to know that our failings are not a reason for rejection and ostracism – but rather that we can be cheered on to do better. In short we need an environment that fosters growth because we are secure in the belief that we are accepted.
When this primary need for intimacy and security has been unmet, or worse yet, violated by people that are supposed to protect us, it may become difficult for us to form a trust bond. And forming that bond is a foundational requirement for close relationships.
How are we able to get past old wounds and begin to trust again in the wake of ruptures?
The best way I know to restore these broken places is to form new bonds with safe people. This means taking some relational risks, and cautiously opening up with a few new people. Don’t be in a hurry to go too deep too soon. Ask God to reveal to you who might be a safe person and listen intently for His response. Sometimes it is necessary to begin even more carefully, with an individual person or counselor.
Most importantly, become a safe and trustworthy person for others, and be aware of those around you who might need the comfort of your friendship.