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6 Relational Needs That God Always Meets

6 Relational Needs That God Always Meets

I don’t know about you, but I have a really difficult time connecting with God as a loving parent. It is something I am always growing in, but it is absolutely my natural default to see God as a disappointed father, shaking his head at me from far away. Or worse, some kind of amorphous, abstract orb floating out there in the Universe, completely out of tune with me.

I’m so grateful for how grounding Scripture is and how directly it can expose Satan’s lies for the silly, wisps-of-nothing that they are. Because the idea of a distant father, out of tune with what his children need, is the complete opposite of what God is.

The truth is, all humans come into this world needing love, because God designed us that way. We were made in his image; therefore we are deeply relational, just as he is. We can’t get by without loving relationships.

Psychologists, therapists, counselors, and others have different names for the aspects of healthy relationships, like felt safety and containment. My point isn’t to delve too deeply into each of these needs or what they mean, because I am not a therapist. But I am a daughter of God in need of attachment to him, and this framework from Christian counselor Adam Young really helps me to see how closely God walks with me and parents me, no matter how old I get.

Adam Young states that these 6 relational needs are at the core of every secure parent-child relationship:

1. Attunement with your needs

2. Responsiveness to your emotions

3. Engagement with your heart and your person

4. Ability to regulate your affect

5. Ability to handle your negative emotions

6. Willingness to repair the relationship when needed

After I heard these for the first time, I realized how much I needed to know that God met these needs for me. I needed to see it laid out in Scripture, since it is so easy for me to naturally believe the opposite.

Here are the verses I found that show how abundantly God meets every one of our relational needs.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Ben White

Psalm 139:5

1. Attunement

Attunement with your child means being in touch with their inner world, and reconnecting when you fall out of step. God does this with us so perfectly.

He is always in step with us, always completely understanding about what we are going through. He is able to meet our every need because he is so in tune with us – infinitely more than our parents ever could be.

Here are some Scriptures to help you picture how closely God is in tune with you.

Psalm 139:1-7

“O LORD, You have searched me
and known me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You understand my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down;
You are aware of all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, O LORD.

You hem me in behind and before;
You have laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?”

Psalm 23:3b-4

“…he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”

Isaiah 30:21

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

Isaiah 40:11

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”

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scripture verse image psalm 23:6

2. Responsiveness

Responsiveness is about a parent moving towards their child with kindness and comfort in response to their child’s inner world needs and desires.

Although it might not feel like God is always responsive to our needs, because sometimes it seems like he isn’t answering our prayers, he is always meeting our needs. He is always meeting us with kindness. He knows every aspect of our inner world, and he moves to meet our needs before we even know we need it.

Here are some Scriptures to keep in mind when it feels like God isn’t meeting your needs. We can trust him with all of our hearts.

Psalm 23:1-2; 6

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul…Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Psalm 91:15-16

“He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

James 4:10

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Exodus 16:12

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

Additional Scriptures:

Psalm 20:6

Psalm 21:1-2; 6

1 John 5:15

Jeremiah 29:12-13

Psalm 66:17-20

Isaiah 49:8, 14-16

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Luke 15:20 Scripture card

3. Engagement

Parents who engage their children pursue their hearts and have a desire to truly know their children.

God engages us in such meaningful ways. Even though he is omniscient, he truly desires to know our hearts, our personalities, our hopes and dreams and fears, through experiencing us in relationship. He is always pursuing us, even when we don’t pay him any attention.

Here are some Scriptures that remind you of how relentlessly God seeks after you.

Genesis 3:8-9

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”

Psalm 139:1

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.”

Luke 15:20

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Luke 15:3-6

“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

Additional Scriptures:

Romans 8:34b

Zephaniah 3:17

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John 14:27 Scripture card

4. Regulating My Affect

Something so interesting about babies is that they cannot regulate their own affect. What that means is, they are completely dependent on their caregivers to soothe them when they are panicked, and to stimulate them when they are shutting down.

God regulating our affect is such a beautiful picture of intimacy. He is so in tune with us, and knows so specifically what we need, that he is able to comfort us and stimulate us as soon as we need it.

And not only is he able to, but he cares about us so much that he wants to! Here are some Scriptures to soothe you and inspire you.

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 66:13

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

Additional Scriptures:

Lamentations 3:22-23

Romans 15:13

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Psalm 23:4

1 Peter 5:7:

Isaiah 49:15

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Psalm 69:30, inspirational image

5. The Ability to Handle Negative Emotions

Good parents are able to handle their children’s tantrums, especially when they’re directed at them (think teenagers slamming doors and yelling “I hate you, Mom!”) They’re strong enough and stable enough to not be so reactive when their children have big, negative emotions.

God is the same. Imprecatory psalms show us that it is perfectly safe to go to God with big emotions like fear, disappointment, rage, bitterness, and desire for revenge.

God can handle our anger, even when it’s directed at him. Here are some Scriptures to encourage you to go to God with all of your emotions.

Genesis 32:24, 30

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak…So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’”

Job 37:17-18, 38:33, 26, 40:1-5

“You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?...

…Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?...

…Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?...

…The Lord said to Job:

‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!’

Then Job answered the Lord:
‘I am unworthy — how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.

I spoke once, but I have no answer —
twice, but I will say no more.’”

Psalm 69:18-19, 22-24, 29-30

“Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes.
You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you…

…May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever…

…Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them…

…I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Mark 15:33-34

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”

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john 3:16

6. Willingness to Repair

Every parent messes up sometimes. Often, even. But the thing that sets apart parents with good relationships with their children and those with not-so-good relationships, is their willingness to repair.

Being willing to own up to disconnection and seeking after reconciliation actually makes the relationship stronger than it was before the disconnection.

Of course, in our relationships with God, he is never the side of the relationship that causes disconnection. However, that doesn’t stop him from being willing to repair the relationship – to the point of sending his own son to die for that disconnection!

God seeks after reconciliation with us in powerful, amazing ways. Here are some Scriptures to show you how.

Isaiah 65:2

“All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations…”

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Hebrews 4:15-16

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God truly is a good, good Father. Read over these passages as often as you need to help you form a new picture of who God is – a loving parent who delights in you, walks with you, responds to you, comforts you, seeks after you, and does everything in his power to have the closest relationship with you possible.

What Scripture stuck out to you the most? Lean into what God is showing you about himself!

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Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is a former editor at She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earrings on Instagram and her website for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.