So what does it look like to not be a vampire?
Who are the People who are safe?
John 1 :14 gives us a definition of what someone who is not a vampire looks like.
“The word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
People who aren’t vampires are able to dwell with us. They are able to connect to our heart. They connect in a way that we know they are present to us.
People can accept me without shame and condemnation. Grace says you are accepted just as you are and you won’t experience shame or wrath for what you are going through.
This is people who can bring heat to a relationship.
People who can bring force. They can be honest and real with one another and live out the truth of God. Many people think healthy relationships are ones where there is just grace. We need people who can accept us but who can also be honest with us without condemning us.
Relating to one another is a spiritual activity. In the great command Jesus tells us that spirituality is a life of love both with him and with each other. What you hold in your heart relationally is as important to God as how your prayer life is going.
We need to ask the question when we are evaluating our spirituality: “How am I going with other people?” “How are my relationships going?” “Who am I relating to?”
How we are going relationally is important because God made us incomplete. He made us to need one another.
- We get fuel from relationships.
Sally suffered from chronic fatigue. But her doctor felt that her chronic fatigue was emotionally caused. Whenever Sally entered into situations that had conflict or where someone wasn’t approving of her she began to feel worthless and unloveable. As that feeling increased she withdrew from everyone.
As she isolated herself emotionally she did not have the fuel from others that she needed.
In Colossians 2: 19
“They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” We are actually supplied with energy, fuel, what we need from one another. We were made for connectivity and for spirituality with one another. I believe a lot of anxiety, depression, fatigue, weariness, soul fatigue is caused by disconnecting from people who are able to Dwell with us.
Some people can give you advice, lists, friendship but because they don’t know how to dwell your soul doesn’t feel fuelled or refreshed in their presence. That’s what dwelling does — it refuels souls. It’s a being, a presence. Vampires can’t do that.
2. God uses people to provide us with comfort.
Many times the Bible tells us to comfort others with our presence, help and words.
- Strength for setting boundaries
One of the greatest needs for emotional and spiritual health is to have healthy boundaries.
Linda was married to a very controlling man. It was hard for her to express her opinions. She tried to be loving but whenever the relationship required something other than love she was at a loss. She felt controlled by her husband and overrun. The only time the relationships worked was when she centred her life around him and his needs and wants. But this meant suppressing so much of what she needed and wanted.
Linda got into a support group and she began to see how she could make a stand, how to handle the conflict when it came. She knew that she did not have to fold because her friends were there for her.
“Therefore strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
Hebrews 12:12, 13
I have over the years seen many people’s lives and families change dramatically when one family member gets support from a good group to make a stand against things that are not right.
- We need a Foundation for aggression.
Aggression can be good. It can help us achieve our purpose in life. Passive people do not know how to use their God given aggression to go out and attack life and accomplish the goals that God has for them.
Sam was raised by a passive father and a domineering mother. He had the familiar passive man syndrome. He couldn’t stand up for what he wanted. He wanted his children protected, he wanted to tell the truth about his divorce to his children, he wanted to lay down the law with his ex but he couldn’t because he folded or procrastinated when he needed to make a stand. As he got connected with church and safe people he saw other men who were able to take a stand in a gentle and loving way and he began to have modelled for him what his father never gave him: modelling to be strong and face life.
- Encouragement and support
“Fighting the good fight” is discouraging and often we need direct encouragement. We are never so spiritual that we don’t need encouragement. Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12
9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart
Many people come from families that don’t teach and model God’s ways. So many people are unequipped to do the things that life demands that we do in order to be happy and successful.
It might be we never had compassion modelled, or empathy, or marriage, or career development, fun, talents, forgiveness, sex role development.
This is why God looked at us and said, “You guys need more than help you need to start all over again.”
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
We can’t just pick up where we are and that is why the Bible tells us we have to be born again and become like children. We need to learn to live all over again. Life is all about learning how to do it.
That’s what church is about. God gave us people to parent us, to teach and mentor us. To begin again.
One of the major pieces to healing is grief. We need to grieve painful events, painful losses, love that will never be realised, dreams that have been crushed and many other hurts that life inflicts on us.
We cannot grieve without something new to attach to. This is why so many people never get over the emotional hurts from childhood, or forever seek the love and approval of a parent who is unable to give it. They have never been able to grieve because there is a lack of something new to replace what they need to grieve. I think social media compounds the grieving process. If you break up from your wife or girlfriend you can still see what they are up to on social media. Once upon a time the break ups were more definitive.
Grieving takes a new relationship. We must have God and others to connect to in order to let go of what we have lost.
“Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O. Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained by your own affections. Now in a like exchange – I speak as to children — open wide to us also.”
Many people do not get healed because they never open wide to others. Healing doesn’t happen without grief but grief doesn’t happen without support and new love.
That’s why we always have to have open hearts to let people in and to form new relationships. If you say, “I’m never going to let anyone in I’ve been hurt too much,” you will never heal.
- Confrontation and Discipline
The areas that we most need to change — we either:
- Are unaware of,
- Know but are resisting owning
- Openly rebellious against changing.
All 3 of these stances God will use people to make us aware of our behaviour, confront our denial and take a stand against our behaviour that is not okay.
This is the power of force in a relationship.
- Good Deeds
We do not just think of good deeds. We are stimulated by each other to do good things. Our relationships should help us to live lives of service. We need to be around others who help us to grow and become the people who God made us to be.
- Rooted and Grounded.
I don’t know how many times over the years we have gotten phone calls from people where their church, organisation, mission, or business is about to hit the wall. Devastation, hurt, betrayal are all emotions expressed down the phone line. Each one of them have had their back to the wall. It has been a long recovery, not an overnight fix.
We have heard stories of people stealing funds from them; we have heard stories of people they trusted mismanaging; we have heard how people who promised and who told them God told me I’m to support you and help you withdraw their support when it started to get hard; we have heard the pain of gossip. They have rung not because we have solutions but they have rung because they needed to be grounded in love. When their world was being turned upside down and all the structures that they had know were disappearing they needed to know that they had people who were grounded and rooted in love with them.
They needed to know that no matter the season they had people who were still 100% for them. People who could dwell with them. They knew that whether they had made mistakes or not we were there for them, willing to hop on a plane and do relationship with them. When all the structure of their known has gone they needed to know that they were still rooted and grounded in love. It has cost us over the years. It has cost us time, money, effort but for some of these leaders we have been doing this with them for over 15 years. Rooted and grounded in love with them for decades and in all seasons — the good, the bad, the sweet, the ugly.
Jesus wanted us to have this kind of love first and foremost and that is why he prayed for unity. He knew that we needed to be a safe unit for each other. Faithfulness and perseverance are two characteristics that God values.
The 11th commandment in our family has always been faithfulness. Our kids were not allowed to do the he doesn’t like me, I’m going to be nasty routine. When they were rejected or passed over for the new fad friend we insisted that they remain kind and loyal. They had to learn to return evil with good, unkindness with kindness, disloyalty with loyalty and they had to learn to forgive. When they committed to something they had to see the season through. They had to learn to be faithful.
In relationships we learn to love. We receive love and this teaches us how to love.
As Christians: “We love because he first loved us”.
Loving people are loving because they have been loved and they have followed that example. This is what Jesus taught us, to love others as he loved us.
It is in relationships that we learn how we fail to love correctly. It is only as we relate intimately to others that we find out how unloving we can actually be. They tell us, we apologise, we receive forgiveness and then try to do better. Through the process of failure, forgiveness and growth we find out the areas and ways we need to change and God is then able to change us.
These are all the reasons why learning to love is an act of spirituality.
Safe people know that they need all of the above. It is not about perfection. Its about acknowledging that we all need heat and force and that we are designed for relationships.