your need is your glory

One of my favorite places to experience God is in nature. I remember a trip I took with friends to Zion National Park. Standing at the top of Angels Landing (pictured below) I was blown away by the array of colors and vastness of the landscape. It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that God made this. Such beauty in a broken world made me wonder what this place might have looked like before the Fall. In the history of the world, only Adam got to experience creation in all its perfection. He took in the glorious scenery of the garden with all its sights, smells, and sounds. He walked with God in the cool of the day. It all seemed too good to be true. Then God uttered a statement that I find startling, “It is not good that man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18).

God tells Adam that he shouldn’t be alone, but how could this be? He’s surrounded by beauty. He has total and complete access to God. But somehow, God was unsatisfied with the intimacy Adam had with him and knew that Adam needed relationship with another image bearer. From this point onward, a central undeniable reality emerges that we need relationship with others. Needing connection with others is part of what it means to be human because we’re made in the image of a relational God. Relationships—whether marriage, friendship, or family—can cause our heart to sing and have the capacity to heal deep wounds. And yet, just like Adam, there are times where we still feel the pain of loneliness.

Loneliness is something I’ve been reflecting on lately. I’m a newer counselor, and the past couple years have been filled with lots of change. New job, new city, new home, new church, new everything. In navigating the newness there’s been times where I’ve felt profoundly lonely, wondering how long it’s going to be this way. How long before things stop feeling new and start feeling the way I long for them to feel: settled, at home, relationally connected. It’s in those moments where I’m confronted with a question: What am I supposed to do with my loneliness?

As I sit with that, I imagine God coming to be with me in the middle of my loneliness. I’ve started to consider how he might look at me, or what words he might say to bring a sense of calm and peace. Imagining his presence has taught me to honor my design and therefore my desire for relationship. Shame wants me turn on my need for others through cynicism or despair. It wants me to deaden my desire and see my neediness and weakness as a problem. But I’m learning to embrace the fact that my need is my glory. That’s what Paul says when he calls us to glorify our neediness and weakness: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He calls it good because God designed us to need others, and being vulnerable enough to go to them with our needs and ask for care brings God great delight.

For me, this is still very much a work in progress. Part of me feels deeply uncomfortable with how God has made us to need others, while another part of me sees immense beauty in needing people. Still another part is having to confront dysfunctional ways I try (or don’t try) to get my needs met. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: your need itself is not the issue. It is your glory. It is how God made you. Bless your need for human connection. Go to God with your loneliness and allow him to empower your need for relationship.




Emmett Richardson joined Barnabas Triad in 2021. He earned is MA in counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary and his undergraduate degree from Presbyterian College. Prior to counseling, Emmett spent 5 years working in college ministry.  Emmett is married to Molly and they live in Greensboro with their dog Sophie. Outside of counseling, Emmett enjoys CrossFit, exploring local restaurants and coffee shops, and spending time with friends and family.

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