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Changes That Heal

15 "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:1-8

As a child growing up in a very dysfunctional family I learned the lifestyle of living as an isolated hermit.  My parents were not communicative and in fact loathed the idea of anything intimate or transparent.  We didn't talk at the dinner table, sat silently in front of the television and suffered through life not having a single individual as part of your life that you had a "bonded relationship" investment.

Despite having many people in my life and ministry, I was essentially "alone" and isolated.  I felt, at vulnerable moments in life, cut off from human life feeling loved and valued by others.  In fact during much of my adult years I could actually sense that there was something that seemed to prevent me from feeling a deep sense of connection towards God and with other people in my life.

Many people have asked me what was it that you discovered during this journey through life?  My discovery about myself produced the realization that, "I had definitely failed at learning to bond in relationships."  Bonding is the ability to form a spiritual/emotional connection or attachment with another person.  It is the ability to relate to another on the deepest level of relationship.  When you have bonded  with another person you have the ability to intimately share the deepest thoughts, dreams, experiences, painful memories and emotional feelings without any fear of rejection, ridicule, rejection or judgment.

Bonding in relationships is a basic human need.  It manifests itself as "deep hunger"  for intimacy, transparency and vulnerability.  People who may never have experienced a bond or connection with other people may actually suffer from famine of the soul!

As a Christian man and former pastor for over 30 years it took years and much painful discovery for me to come to terms with the famine in my own soul.  I finally discovered the truth of connection as formulated in scripture and illustrated in John 15:1-8  in reference to the importance and necessity of spiritual and emotional connection with others.  The four main truths or components found in this portion of scripture are as follows:

  • Bonding or Fruit-bearing (connectedness, maturity and wholeness in life) comes from relationship and not the duty of religious service ( verse 1-5).
  • Spiritual and Healthy Emotional Life cannot really begin without experiencing bonded connections with people we love and depend upon, without it the end result is "a withering connection or disengagement of any feeling or want to invest in relationship"  (verse 6)
  • Greater relational and emotional growth will not be possible without "greater depth"  In relationships (verse 7).
  • True biblical discipleship really begins with a bonded connection with the heavenly Father that produces a vital connection in which we manifest his character, the fruitful life (verse 8).

Now, if you are reading this for the first time you may be asking yourself why do I feel so isolated from others in my life?  Why do I resist reaching out to others, or getting involved in any meaningful relationships at church or work?  So a good way to answer these questions is to ask the following!

Digging Deeper

1. What was your family of origins like growing up, relational, isolated or dysfunctional?
2. What are some of the emotional dynamics growing up that caused you to shrink away from people?
3. Would you like to enjoy people and have intimate, caring and connected relationships with others?