I’m not a fan of pop psychology and I’m not always self-reflective. But in When people are big and God is small, Edward Welch has a way of asking practical questions that turn introspection in an interesting (and helpful) direction. He put his finger on my pride and self-doubt in a most uncomfortable way. I generally try to avoid being convicted by questions in anything that remotely resembles a "self help" style genre. But he just kept asking and kept asking and didn't let me get away!
The popular image that Welch explores is that humans are shaped like cups. (I think I’d be a coffee cup!) a cup that needs to be filled. I look for affirmation, acceptance and safety. But my cup never seems to runneth over. I seem to have sprung a leak. Welch uses the phrase “leaky love tanks”. My need to be filled leads to fear of man, leading to peer pressure, co-dependency and people pleasing. I’m never satisfied when I look to others to fill me. And sometimes I’m not even satisfied with God’s love for me. It feels like a shallow answer because I feel like a blackhole that always sucks in more and more and never fills.
Welch diagnoses fear of man as a universal problem. The answer isn’t looking to others. The answer is not self-love. The answer is not a trite 'God loves you'.
Welch proceeds along a practical counseling path first examining the reasons how and why we fear others. The radical treatment is fear of the Lord. The application leads to service and love of God and others. But he tantalisingly hangs those answers out at the end of the first chapter before starting our journey there.