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The Needs of the Heart Paperback – July 11, 2016
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As I have internalized the information in this book and its companion, The Voice of the Heart, and have begun to implement it, I have found the changes personally encouraging as well as seeing my husband and children responding differently to me and to each other. Furthermore, this has made me much more willing to allow human relationships into my life because I no longer fear that I'll be reduced to dregs because I have to allow my relational partner to suck me dry. Like all good things, the information in this book could be used by the emotionally unscrupulous to bludgeon others into meeting their demands. That is not the fault of the book, but the fault of the individual wielding it as a weapon. I do not see this as a spiritual/scriptural matter, but as an issue of emotional maturity. We can't use this to break the bonds of sin, or to improve our "self" to be acceptable to God, or to be a "better Christian". That is Jesus' business, requiring a death and resurrection to reconnect us to God, a generous dose of the Holy Spirit and walking in newness of life. Rather, It is a relational skill like learning to communicate effectively or identify and respect personal boundaries. While initially I was reluctant to purchase it due to the high ratio of cost to number of pages, I have found this little gem to be immensely helpful!
This is an except from the preface: "Living our needs start with confession. Confession means to agree that I am human, that I am full of feelings and needs. Our needs will never be met unless we are human in order to have them met. Simply, living in need starts with us admitting we have them. If we don’t admit our needs, what I call living in refusal – we spend our lives using others as a drug that allows us to hide from how we are made. When we live in refusal, we spend our lives trying to figure others out, so we can use them as counterfeit fulfillments. Many couples spend a lot of time trying to demand the other figure them out and anticipate their needs, so neither has to face and confess them. Beginning to live out of our emotional and spiritual cores involves living in confession of our feelings and needs with those we love, rather than spending our lives trying to figure each other out and survive. No one can “fix” us, but others and God can meet us in our needs."
The author indicates that if we do not admit our needs, we are living in refusal. Well that could be. But the primary sins of man are lust of the flesh (sexual sins), lust of the eyes (coveting), and boastful pride. Most people, I think, and most problems occur by people demanding TOO MUCH. That is why God calls on us to deny ourselves. Our base nature demands to be fed. It does not refuse to acknowledge needs. So I am struggling with the base concepts of this book and this Spiritual Root System.
If I may go further, I have a spouse who has severe emotional problems (in secular psychology it is called Borderline Personality Disorder). Such individuals are very demanding of their needs, and due to dysfunctional emotional issues, are incapable of recognizing the needs of others. (She cannot even recognize the emotional needs of her own children.) Therefore, around such an individual, me "confessing" and declaring my needs offers nothing. However, I do know the God will meet my needs, and I know that God is in control, even when those around us fail.
This experience makes me look at "needs" differently. My biggest concern with this book: there is no mention of humility. Humility as a virtue is a major Biblical theme. Not the confession of needs but instead the demeanor of humility is what is needed to live in peace and harmony with others. Humility dissipates anger and heals wounds. Humility allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God's people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power-seeker. God calls on us to be humble.
In closing, the author's Spiritual Root System as a way of thinking may be helpful to some. And the premise that we must "confess" our needs to live a life of fulfillment may be true for some people. But the majority of sin and conflict occurs by people demanding, not yielding. And the concept of humility is understated in this book.