Speaking of marriage… I’m a cup-half-empty kind of girl who married a cup-half-full kind of guy. Or more accurately, I’m a cup all-the-way-empty girl who married a cup all-the-way-full guy. My husband doesn’t just see the positive side of every situation, he can’t even fathom that a negative side exists!
The origins of this test, used to separate optimists from pessimists, are unknown, but the results are often spot on. Those of us who look at life through a general lens of “have” tend to see that the cup contains something. And those of us who look through a lens of “have not” tend to notice that the cup is missing something.
But science tells us we’re both incorrect – because the cup is actually full. Even if there isn’t a single drop of liquid in it, it is always filled with something – air! And air isn’t nothing. Air is matter – it has mass and takes up space. It is made of molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, and other gases. It may look like “nothing,” but, given the fact that we can’t survive more than a few minutes without it, it’s more like everything!
When Paul wrote the closing of his letter to the Philippians, he took some time to thank them for their generosity toward him and his ministry. He reported that he was now “amply supplied” because of their choice to “share in [his] troubles” by sending him aid “when [he] was in need” (4:14-18).
But as a teacher, Paul did more than just thank them – he also took advantage of the opportunity to educate them on an important spiritual truth:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (4:11-13)
As a follower of Christ, Paul looked at “content” through a general lens of “have” rather than “have not”. Even if the Philippians had not supported him financially, he knew “the secret” was to see his glass as always full, even if its contents were invisible to the physical eye.
We all want to be content, and for many of us, “content” is what will happen when our cup gets filled – a.k.a. when we get married. As young (or not-so-young) single people, we dream of meeting the “one” who will complete us and be the puzzle piece that fills up all our unmet needs.
And then we actually get married – and find out that’s not the case! After elevating our spouse to a god-like level, idealizing their need-meeting abilities, their idols come toppling over – and we fall right down with them. Every time I sense frustration and discontent in my relationship with Tim, I know it’s because I’ve been expecting him to fill a cup he was never meant to fill.
Laurie Krieg and “Hole in My Heart Ministries” compiled this list of the core needs God placed inside of humanity before the Fall in Genesis 3. These needs are present in all humans, and, though they can be met in part by other humans, are only met fully and completely by God Himself:
I need to be . . .
Affirmed: Overwhelmingly approved of
Desired: Specially chosen—no pretense necessary
Included: Wanted in this group, team, or partnership; belonging
Loved: Unconditionally accepted
Nurtured: Cared for; held
Purposed: Filled with a sense of profoundly mattering
Rested: Re-centered and reset in mind, body, spirit; includes having fun
Safe: Unafraid; trusting everything is under control
Seen: Noticed inside and out
Unique: Delightfully special
(Read more about these at: https://www.himhministries.com/core-needs.html)
As a follower of Christ, I want to believe that He is all I need, but when I have this other human right here who could meet those needs, I want him to do it! I tend to look at like this: Tim fills my cup first and then Jesus can fill what’s left. But the reverse is true: Jesus has already filled my cup, and anything Tim adds is only the overflow.
Your cup is constantly full – even if it looks and feels like it’s empty. When Paul said “I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” (4:13) he wasn’t talking about receiving supernatural power to succeed in life or reach his goals, he was talking about receiving the supernatural vision to see the air as a thing. The contents of your cup may not always seem tangible, but they’re necessary to your survival!
Which of the “core needs” listed are biggest for you?
Which have you been depending on others to fill, rather than God?
Which can you thank God for already filling today?