Emotional Black Holes...
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, NLT)
Have you ever met someone who loved to suck up your effort and attention and care with no thought of returning those gifts? I call them “emotional black holes”. Like black holes in the universe suck up light for it never to return, these emotional black hole people suck the life and joy out of you. They are always in emotional need and extract what they can from those around them. They never seem satisfied with themselves or their situation, so they are constantly lacking contentedness. Then, they go looking for contentment and satisfaction and joy from others. They hunt for compliments. They cry, looking for you to bring comfort immediately. If you have a problem, they seem to have a bigger problem. They are always needy. You can never give enough comfort to satiate their insecurities or emotional needs.
Those who are emotional black holes love faithful people. They know you are loyal and trustworthy to God and honest as the day is long. They use this to manipulate you. They know you are a giving person, so they make sure to find ways to take their emotional needs from you whenever possible. When in the presence of an emotional black hole personality, you will often feel tired or weak. You will give of yourself, but it will never be enough. You can show love, but it will never suffice. If you are married to an emotional black hole, you will suffer and get depressed and tired and weak. Chances are you will close yourself off at some point or lose yourself in the process. If you have a child who is an emotional black hole, you might enjoy being the hero at first. However, with time you will see that emotional black holes (even if they are your children) do not return your love and concern and comfort. If you work with or for a person who is an emotional black hole, you will feel exhausted when you leave work. Even during vacation, you may not have enough time to recover from the exhaustion of working for or with one of these people.
Some people read the scripture for today and believe that we are to “comfort others” as they want. This is NOT how you do it nor what the scripture reads. 2 Corinthians 1:3 mentions that Jesus is to be praised because God is a wonderful “source of all comfort”. That is so true. God brings a comfort that the world and worldly possessions cannot equal. When in God’s presence, peace and hope and security are natural byproducts. The scripture then goes on to expect that as God has comforted us, we are to “give the troubled the same comfort God gives” (2 Corinthians 1:4). God expects the faithful to comfort others with a godly love in response to HIS love. So, how does this relate to emotional black holes? You shouldn’t give them what they WANT. You should feed them how God needs. Being an enabler won’t help comfort an emotional black hole manipulator. It will only make them less likely to be faithful. And that’s just it. In your relationships with others, comfort them AS GOD WOULD, rather than AS THEY DESIRE.
Joan’s best friend Carrie was brought up in a dysfunctional household. Carrie was the youngest child. She was an “oops baby”. She was the result of an undesired pregnancy of a woman in her mid-thirties. Growing up, Carrie’s parents were busy with the other children and didn’t take much time with her. Since Joan and Carrie were the only two girls on their block growing up, they naturally gravitated to each other. They played with dolls together. They played house together. They enjoyed each other’s friendship.
As Carrie grew into her teen years, her insecurities started to take center stage. As a result, Carrie constantly desired more and more attention. At first, she started to consume Joan’s time. Then, Carrie found the attention of teenage boys. Carrie was a pretty girl. As she got older, she used this to her advantage. She would shyly smile and show her dimples and get what she wanted. Even though Joan and Carrie were best friends, this bothered Joan very much. Carrie often desired attention from everyone and got it. When she didn’t get attention from boys, Carrie would crave it from Joan. This began to put undue pressure on their friendship.
Throughout High School, Joan and Carrie were both in youth fellowship. They often came to church events together. However, when Carrie became the center of attention, Joan was relegated to the bench. Carrie only came to her when a boyfriend broke up with Carrie or when Carrie needed a friend to accompany her to an event. Sadly, Joan let this one-sidedness continue in the relationship. Joan convinced herself that as a Christian, she needed to be there for Carrie. What she didn’t realize is that Carrie was an emotional black hole. All she did was suck the life from Joan until Joan was tired and depressed and lonely. This dysfunctional relationship with Carrie took a big toll on Joan in High School.
I have seen this scenario time and time again. God desires that you comfort others. This does NOT mean that you cater to them or allow them to manipulate you. God brings comfort to you so that you may comfort others. God doesn’t shower you will blessings and comfort so that others can suck the life out of you, leaving you empty! God doesn’t give you the gift of love and hospitality and sharing so that you can throw it away on others who will suck it up for themselves and leave you exhausted.
It is crucially important that when God comforts you that you also comfort others. That is the message for today from 2 Corinthians. However, when you comfort others, remember that you want to do so without enabling or manipulation or allowing yourself to be used in some way. You may have to STOP YOURSELF from giving away blessings to emotional black holes so that you can give your love and comfort freely to those who truly need that blessing. Giving freely to emotional black holes who will simply suck in the blessings but never use them or even appreciate them stops the giving cycle. Giving freely to those who need and deserve God’s blessings will result in paying it forward over and over down the road. Remember, you are called to comfort people, not to enable their insecurities and manipulations!
How well do you bring comfort to others? Are you comforting the right people from God’s perspective? Who might need some godly comfort today? How might you deliver that best? Are you an emotional black hole? Meditate on these things.