Mollie, our golden retriever, came to us at 4 years old with a rough story. Put out in a woman’s backyard, rarely brought in and poorly fed, she was a victim of the heat, cold, and severe weather. Though we have certainly spoiled her in every possible way, she is a bottomless pit of need. She’s always begging for food and paws someone for attention relentlessly. Though she came to us a bit withdrawn, once she got a taste of love, she couldn’t get enough. She watches us eat our meal as she sits eye level with the table, her ears perked up, waiting for a morsel of something. She’s hard to resist and finally we fall for it. I’ll say to Ron, “Just give her one piece so she’s satisfied.” I should know better. Once she’s had a bite, the pestering gets worse.
People are a lot like that. All of us grow up with imperfect relationships. Those with happier childhoods don’t seem to live with that gaping hole in their heart but if you come from profound deprivation, you are aware of a bottomless pit no one can fill. The more you’ve been hurt, the higher the expectations you have of the people in your life. Why? Probably because the stakes are high. You don’t want to be hurt again so you feel the need to make the test for love and sincerity steep! If you have not found your home in Jesus, you experience needs that feel monumental. You might think that one gesture of love, one compliment, one affirmation will make a dent in making your heart feeling fuller. But nothing satisfies because the void is God-shaped. Other’s compassion can easily morph into an unhealthy attachment.
Are you in a relationship that is unsatisfying? Perhaps you’d admit that the other person has often come through for you but they just don’t do it often enough or well enough. What has been meaningful in the past is blurred by your ongoing need for more. You want more proof, deeper proof, that you are important and that their love is true. The unfortunate thing is that the more you need, the more the other person backs up. Anger and distrust are soon to follow.
High expectations are met in the love of Christ but let me qualify. He has already proven His love. He came to me when I was His enemy. He died for my crimes as if He committed them Himself. He’s given me His heart, His nature, and shares His eternal inheritance. This love exceeds all expectations. So, I have to be careful that, in my immaturity, I don’t come to God with a list of demands. “If you love me, then You’ll do ‘this’.” His love is already perfect. Picking up my cross is not the same as God withholding. He is not a Father of deprivation but of extravagance.