Monday, 12 November 2012


What is your biggest need?

Sometimes, foolishly, I think that I’ve got nothing better to read on a train journey than a glossy magazine which generally leaves me with the unnecessary impression that I should be richer and prettier. I do, however, enjoy flicking through the brightly-coloured ‘affordable fashion’ pages, particularly when it turns out that my orange suede wedges are still ‘in’.  A little while ago, at Peterborough train station, one article in Glamour caught my attention.

The magazine asked: ‘What’s the secret to being happy and single?’.  The unhelpful and untruthful assumption made by this question is that life is intrinsically less fulfilling as a single person. However, in answer to her own question, the writer offered up the following solution: ‘Meet your right now needs’.

Glamour champions the self-sufficiency of modern independent women by encouraging its readers to ‘stay sane’ and fill the ‘man shaped hole’ by issuing the following advice: ‘call your friends more often, invest in a ‘battery-operated boyfriend’, go bowling, swimming, shopping or simply spend a few weeks with the men in your life who might be up for a friends with benefits arrangement’. 

The writer rightly recognises the error in attaching our sense of identity, self-worth and fulfilment to relationships with other people. Although we can have good and loving relationships, it's often true that when we rest full weight on them, we inevitably let each other down. In some ways, Glamour is right; there is more to life than Mr (or Mrs!) Right and, it is possible to be both single and happy. However, the magazine appears to suggest that without a boyfriend fulfilling my physical, social and emotional needs, It’s my responsibility to ‘fill the man-shaped hole’ and make meaning for my life another way. I’m uncomfortable with this, but determining whether or not the ‘man-shaped hole’ exists is a secondary issues compared to the underlying question posed by this article; what defines me?

Everyone has something, someone, or some combination of factors that defines their identity, sense of happiness and self worth. What defines you? Friends or family , a career, sporting, artistic or musical talent, physical appearance, academic success, a boyfriend (or lack of?), or any combination of the above? This truth begs the question; what, or who, do you rely on to meet your ‘right now’ needs?

However hard I might try, the bible says that it is impossible for me to meet mine without Jesus. All of the gifts he gives me will fail me if I make them my motivation and my ultimate goal. I might secure or lose my dream job, break or make up with ‘mr right’, loose the use of all my fingers or become a professional harp player, but none of this says anything about my biggest ‘right now need’

My ‘right now need’ is a restored relationship with the holy and just God I turned away from. Equally I need daily reminders that Jesus has achieved this for me, through his life, death and glorious resurrection! Thank God that he took the initiative to redeem and reclaim his people as his own, so that we can find our identity in him alone. What a struggle, but what an encouragement to remember that having begun by faith in Jesus, we can continue to live as God’s children, not based on what we do, but by faith in Jesus alone!