SHANE: "I just don't feel like I have any real friends," said the woman sitting across from me in my study. "Why do you think that is?" was my question.
"I don't know," she said. "But it has made life so difficult, so hard."
We are created to be in relationship. From the beginning of Genesis, the Creator intended for Creation to be intertwined, needing one another just as the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit need one another. That is the "image of God" talked about in Scripture and the critical connection that all of us have to God and to one another.
The chronic life disconnects us from God and from one another. With the other six worries at play, it is easy to see how people find themselves in a pattern where relationships are either hard to come by or difficult to sustain or both.
The real nature of the gospel is that we will find community among those who have believed and followed. That is why Scripture is so intent on reminding us that we have all fallen short of what we were intended to be. We have all missed the boat, so to speak.
But missing the boat in our spiritual walk is just part of the pain the chronic life inflicts. The other side is that we also experience a void of real community and meaningful relationships that then hinder our ability to build and participate in valid, productive interactions.
Does that mean we are anti-social? It can, but not always. Some people are very good at hiding their broken nature and thus never really connecting to anyone.
No, the real result is a series of relationships that are either unhealthy or unreasonable in terms of their objectives or expectations. That is why so many marriages and friendships fail when the chronic life is running rampant. No one will ever be enough to fill the void inside of us. No one. But that does not keep us from saddling our spouses, our children, our parents, and our best friends with those expectations, playing directly into the hands of the Adversary, who by this time has us exactly where he needs us.
The definition of a chronic life is one who consistently participates in a series of actions, deeds, or impressions that become a pattern for defining the self and the relationships in which we participate. Living in these worries, drowned by these self-focused issues and expectations, crumbling under the pressure of addictions, habits, hurts, hang-ups, and self-made gods, we are unable to become what God needs us to be—what we were intended to be from the beginning. In the eyes of heaven, it is a travesty of cosmic proportions.
This worry of the chronic life, like all of the others, is about disruption of our God-given rights, our imago deo, our place in the family of God as one of his beloved children. And no matter how many times the world tries to convince us otherwise, no matter how many times it steps into the middle of our lives and causes trouble, no matter how many lies it tells and how many times we believe them, the chronic life is not normal. God has something better in store. God has the CURE.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE Manning, Brennan. The Ragamuffin Gospel. Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, 2005.