Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Missing You

An Arkie's Faith column from the July 24, 2019, issue of The Mena Star.

Maggie, my Golden Retriever, was out of sorts. Usually, she wants a lot of attention, but today she wanted nothing to do with me. Immediately after eating, she went upstairs. I had to call her back downstairs so I could let her outside before I left for work. When she came back in, once again she didn’t want my attention but ran back upstairs. For the next two days, this scenario repeated itself. When I would come home from work, Maggie would not be there to greet me as she usually was. I would have to call her down from upstairs to let her outside.

After several days of this unusual behavior, something seemed to change. Instead of ignoring me, Maggie now wanted constant attention. When she wants to be petted, she is very insistent. If you stop petting her, she will put her nose under your arm and lift it. It now seemed that I could not give her enough attention. What had caused these unusual behaviors in my dog?

Maggie and I were spending the week by ourselves. My wife was out of town, visiting family. I knew that Maggie was acting the way she was because she was missing my wife. She wasn’t the only one missing my wife. Over the past forty-five years, my wife and I haven’t spent much time apart. I don’t like to be alone. Texting and phone calls weren’t the same as being together. I prayed, “may the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” Genesis 31:49 (NIV) When I picked my wife up at the airport, my world was all right again. When we walked into the house, and Maggie saw my wife, she was wagging her tail so hard that it was creating a breeze. Maggie and I were happy again.

Why do we miss someone when they are away? There is a scientific explanation. Our bodies produce chemicals such as hormones produced by our glands, and neurotransmitters produced by the central nervous system. These chemicals help us form emotional bonds like friendship, intimate relationships, and parental relationships. The hormones related to relationships are estrogen, testosterone, and oxytocin. The neurotransmitters most closely involved are serotonin and dopamine. Your body naturally produces these chemicals, but when you are with someone you love, they surge. When you spend time with someone you love, you become addicted to an elevated level of these chemicals. Robert Palmer was right when he sang; “might as well face it, you're addicted to love.”

If your body is addicted to these chemicals, can you imagine what happens when you are away from the person you love? Your body stops producing an abundance of these chemicals, and withdrawal happens. How does this withdrawal affect your emotional state? It usually mimics symptoms of depression and anxiety. When this happens, many people say, "I don't feel like myself," or, "I miss my other half," because their body has become used to certain stimulation that they are no longer receiving. When you are missing someone, remember that you can't help it. You were designed to be addicted to love. In the book, What is Love, Kay Knudsen wrote; “Love is missing someone whenever you’re apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you’re close in heart.”

We miss people that we love when we are not with them. When we are not with God, he misses us. He tells us, “I created you and loved you even before you were born. The day you came into the world, I was there. Every moment of your life, I’ve been there, but what I long for is a relationship with you. I want to be a part of your life. I want you to talk to me, to include me in your life.” King David understood this. He wrote, “You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” Psalms 139:13-16 (NCV)

Sometimes, separation from someone we love happens because we have made mistakes and hurt them. Sometimes we feel separated from God because we have made mistakes and done things we regret. We think, “how can God love me when I have hurt him like this.” Sometimes we give in to temptation, and it feels like things could never be made right again. You might have felt at one point that God is angry with you and could never forgive you, but that isn’t true. “God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NCV) “I am sure that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us. Not death, not life, not angels, not ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, or anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38,39 (ICB)

Have you ever had an old friend, someone that you haven’t seen for a while, but when you do see them it’s like you were never apart? With some people, it will feel like you’ve hardly missed a day. They know you so well, they understand you so well, that communication picks back up without missing a beat. Think of God as a friend like that. If you haven’t talked with God for a while, don’t be nervous about talking to him again.

Gentle Reader, God is ready to begin a relationship with you or to pick up where you left off. Whenever you are away from God, he misses you. He wants you to be with him and never to be separated from you. He has promised that “when everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:3 (NLT)

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