In his book The Importance of Being Foolish, Brennan Manning writes:
“What keeps me feeling insecure are my addictive emotional needs, which must always be satisfied. When reality does not live up to my expectations, I become frustrated, angry, bitter, anxious, and resentful.
“For example, say you meet me on the street and tell me you found this book to be a complete waste of your time and money. Your criticism triggers my inside programming, and I sink into a swamp of sadness, self-pity, and depression. Reality has not lived up to my expectations. I anticipated at least constructive criticism, possibly appreciation, and maybe even praise.
“But you are not the one who has destroyed my inner equilibrium. I did that.
“Inordinately attached to my preconception of what I need to feel secure (in this case, your approval) and willfully convinced of the way the world should run, I have needlessly deprived myself of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the abundant life that Jesus promised.
“The Lord passed through the world as a figure of light and truth, sometimes tender, sometimes angry, always just, loving, and effective, but not insecure. Spending time with those who attracted the disapproval of all, he never wavered from his desire to offer them his kingdom.
“When we cling to a miserable sense of security, the possibility of transparency is utterly defeated. The kind of trust that depends on the response it receives is a bogus trust, one based only in anxiety. Jesus Christ calls us to hand over our autonomous selves in complete confidence. Only when that decision is ratified . . . are transparency, certainty, and peace achieved.”
Searching my own heart
Manning’s insight is like a merciful mirror for my soul: Am I expecting others to satisfy my gnawing appetite for understanding, affirmation, and security? Am I too easily affected by others’ responses to me?
No matter how close a friend might be, no human being was created to satisfy the cravings of my heart. Instead, these cravings are beautiful invitations to enter into Christ’s presence and find what I need in him.
To put it rather humorously….
So the McD’s chicken nugget wasn’t a juicy steak. What did you expect? Don’t hate on the nugget—you’re just trying to fill up on the wrong meal. Let that poor little nugget make you all the more thankful for the fancy steak dinner at your fingertips!
Who’s the chicken nugget in your life? Who are you putting God-shaped expectations on? Who are you letting “destroy your inner equilibrium”?
Instead of grudging over their shortcomings and expecting them to be who they cannot be, let their human frailty highlight God’s jaw-dropping goodness. Go to God and get your heart filled up. (Here is one sweet and simple way of doing that.) Our frantic attempt to find security in one another is not only an anxiety-inducing relationship buster, but it is also proof that God is who we need most.
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.” Psalm 73:25