Being in relationships is a normal desire. However, relationships do include risk, the risk of rejection, unmet expectations or betrayal to name a few. Aloneness can be a defense mechanism to the hurts of relationship. Once people have been wounded in a relationship, they can isolate their self as protection from not being hurt again.
People often isolate their self from God when they don’t like or understand what God is doing or allowing in their life. Like a small child they misinterpret God’s feelings or actions toward them.
The problem with the defense mechanism of aloneness is it dooms a person to a life that, “is not good,” for they are living contrary to God’s design – alone. Or at the least they live a life of superficial relationships driven by the fear of intimacy. We are created for intimacy with God and usually with at least one other person. Intimacy is Adam and Eve in the garden, naked and unashamed before each other. We are fully revealed to another, nothing hidden, and still feel accepted and safe. To live without intimacy can be illustrated by the words of an old Simon and Garfunkel song, “I am a rock, I am an island – the rock feels no pain and the island never cries.”
Life is about relationships
If life is about relationships, what is a person to do? Risk the pain of potential betrayal that comes with relationships or play it safe and be alone? The answer is found in starting an alone relationship with God. That is where the first man started because that was all he had: Adam alone with God each day in the cool of the garden. Adam wasn’t seeking another relationship. He was enjoying his relationship with God each day. God in his wisdom eventually brought a relationship to Adam. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t place yourself among people and put yourself out there for possible connections. It means to focus first on developing an intimate and enjoyable relationship with God.
Our relationship with God will prepare us for our relationships with others. God eventually brought Eve into Adam’s life, and his life was richer for it. Eve didn’t compete with Adam’s God relationship but complemented it. Adam was a better husband to Eve because of his relationship with God. God then gave the two of them a life mission to fill the earth with other people who could be in relationship with each other and God. New families would be created who would live in harmony with God, one another and God’s creation. All of these relationships would be a source of physical and eternal life. As long as Adam cultivated his relationship with God, his relationship with Eve went well.
The key to healthy relationships
Herein is the key to healthy relationships. I must make an alone relationship with God the number one priority of my life. By building an intimate relationship with God, my life functions according to God’s design. Adam didn’t start having problems in his marriage and family until his relationship with God deteriorated. People didn’t start having conflict with each other individually and on a national level until their relationship with God became dysfunctional. Don’t just isolate yourself from others out of fear. Isolate yourself from others so you can be alone with your heavenly Father.
This is following the Jesus model. He had regular times and places when he withdrew from others to be alone with his father in prayer. Here Jesus would process his emotions, find comfort, strength and receive direction to re-engage with others. By the end of his brief 33 years on earth he had fully obeyed all of God’s law, which he summed up as love God and others. Obedience to God is all about relationships.
The paradox of aloneness
The paradox of aloneness is you have to learn to be alone in order to avoid being alone. In building an intimate alone relationship with God, you will learn all you need to learn about building healthy relationships with others.
Your relationship with God is the safety net that gives you the courage to take the risk of attempting relationships. Like a trapeze net, it gives me the confidence. If the relationship fails, I won’t die or be seriously hurt – God will catch me. His love and acceptance carries me through any relationship accidents. Learn to get alone with God, talk with Him in prayer and allow Him to talk with you through His word. Then you won’t fear being alone.
Dr. John Hawkins, Sr. runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach along with his son John Jr. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.