The Impact of the Fear of Abandonment or Rejection
Looking through the first five chapters of the Gospel of John we meet four people who are each so very different from one another. And yet Jesus spends time with each one.
First is Nicodemus, an influential leader of the Jewish religion. He comes representing a group of religious leaders to interview Jesus. “We know that you have come from God…” This leads to Jesus talking to this great teacher about a subject that he doesn’t know much about – the spiritual world, and of being born into that world through a second “birth.” “You must be born again,” says Jesus. Stunned, all Nicodemus can say is, “How can this be?” But Jesus takes time with this teacher of Israel and walks him through the lesson.
Then Jesus meets the “Woman at the Well” as she is known. She is as different from Nicodemus as one could be: not influential but isolated; a woman – a Samaritan woman at that; raised in the Samaritan culture and religion (a rejected off-shoot of Judaism). “What are you doing even talking to me, let alone asking me for a drink out of my cup?” asks the woman, as she is trying to protect Jesus from making a social blunder. And yet Jesus spends more time talking alone with her than with any other person in the entire gospel of John. She becomes the first “evangelist” and tells her village about this “Prophet” who is the “Messiah.” Although we don’t know her name, Church tradition has named her “Photine,” or “the Illuminated One.”
The third person is simply described as a Nobleman – a man of distinction, honor, power. But not powerful enough to help his young son who is dying. So he personally comes to Jesus to ask him for help – to heal his son. But Jesus won’t budge from the place that he is staying, near Cana where that wedding had been held previously. So the Nobleman keeps asking. And finally Jesus heals the son “long-distance” and sends the man home. His entire household is amazed and all believe on Jesus as the Christ.
Finally to this point, in Chapter Five of John, we come to the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda. He has nothing going for him. He has been crippled for 38 years. No job. No honor. Someone takes care of him but we don’t know who, or why. He is alone at the Pool, until Jesus seeks him out. Think of that: Jesus. Seeks. Him. Out. He walks right past everyone else at the Pool hoping to be healed by the waters, and comes to this person – this crippled man – this nobody.
Jesus asks the man a great question, “Do you want to be healed?”
This question deserves a simple “yes” or “no” but instead we get the man’s life story. Like many people today, perhaps he was confused by the question. Many people today are also unsure whether they want to be “healed” or not. Often people find their sense of identity in their disability or illness. Of course they get upset when that is pointed out, but the reality is that they have stopped doing things that might help them to get well long ago, and they have just settled on survival. But Jesus Christ is a healer.
The first thing that this man says to Jesus is very revealing. He says, “I have no one to help me…” Sad. “I have no one…”
And this is the heart of many people – what some call an “Orphan Heart” or “Orphan Attitude.” “I have no one to help me…” becomes the theme or filter for their lives.
Here is a Handout Looking at this Attitude
“I Have No One…”
- Feel Like an “Outsider” without Parents, or Family. Feels “there is no one to help” through life
- I have to take care of myself to survive
- Strive to be Accepted by Others
- Compare Myself to Others, then often Reject Myself – Not Good Enough
- Jealous of Others’ Success, Glad When they Fail
- Feel Unimportant
- Critical of Others to make Myself Look Good
- Jealous, ENVY, Critical, Stuck
- Toward God
- God is my Master
- I must earn God’s Favor
- I “Must Be” Pure and Holy to have God’s Approval, But I’m Never Good Enough
- Because I Cannot Measure Up I Look for Counterfeit Sources of “Legitimacy” such as High Income, Alcohol, Busy-ness, Religious Activity
“Dearly Loved Child”
- My Legitimacy as a Person is Grounded in Who God is and How He Sees Me
- God is My Loving Father, who Accepts Me, Provides for Me, Cares About Me
- I Am Seated with Christ in the Heavenly Places, a Place of Honor and Authority – part of the King’s Royal Family
- The Holy Spirit Lives In Me and Empowers Me
- I am a part of the Family of God
- I can rest in God’s Favor and Acceptance of Me
- I enjoy Pleasing God and Putting a Smile on Father’s Face
- I Represent my Father’s Kingdom, and can reach other to others as the Hands and Feet of Jesus Christ
- I can value others, as they are loved by my Father too, and I can be happy when they succeed, and grieve in their failures.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
Professional Christian Counseling