Written By Yang Ming, Singapore
The team dynamics was great—something I had not experienced at my previous job. My heart swelled with exhilaration whenever I worked with my colleagues. They made me feel loved and wanted. I quickly became emotionally attached to my group of lovely colleagues.
But my contract was not renewed.
“You will be looking around, right?” my director remarked when I asked her casually about my job contract.
My heart was broken. The thought of being separated from my colleagues left me completely distraught and I didn’t know how to deal with the gamut of emotions I was experiencing. To prevent myself from becoming overly attached to people again, I closed my heart. I stopped letting people into my life. I set up arbitrary boundaries around my personal life and made sure no one stepped over them. I used to be a cheerful person, but I became reserved. Even my walk with God was affected, and gradually, my ministry suffered.
Eventually, I moved on with my life. I found another job and forged new friendships with my colleagues, but still, I didn’t open up my heart to them. I learned about their personal lives, but I hardly ever shared about my own. As a result, they knew what was happening in my work life, but knew next to nothing about my family. I was a one-dimensional character to them. And I was fine with it.
It wasn’t until last year that things changed. I was again working at a new place and met new friends there. We were like-minded individuals who enjoyed the arts and other literary pursuits. We talked about our interests over lunch, and I began to share more about the things I loved.
Over the next couple of months, a phenomenal change began to take place in my heart, and I slowly began to open up my heart again. I eventually became comfortable enough to share my personal stories and aspirations.
My new friends and I shared a deep connection, and I felt a sense of belonging with them. Just as it was with my previous colleagues whom I loved dearly (and am still in regular contact with), our mere work relationship blossomed into friendship. It was a breath of fresh air after the past two years of closing my heart
But unknowingly, I had become emotionally attached to my new friends. I was hit hard when everyone left for greener pastures. As happy as I was for them, I was stuck in an abyss of emotions. Once again, I suffered the pain of emotional attachment.
During this time of affliction, I was angry at God for taking away the people I had learned to love and wrestled with Him. Ironically, the only way for me to cope with this pain was through prayer, as I knew I had no one except God.
How I Became Entangled in Emotional Attachment
So how did this happen? Why did I keep allowing myself to become entangled in emotional attachment?
You see, God created us as relational and emotional beings. However, one of the consequences of the Fall is that our emotions have the tendency to become misdirected. Instead of submitting them to God, we begin to attach them to the things in our lives. As a result, we hold on to things or people dearly, and became unwilling to let go for fear of losing them. Children have their soft toys or figurines, and I had my friends. Even temporary detachment could at times cause a tinge of heartache.
People who are emotionally attached are terrified of losing what we love—and therefore losing our purpose and identity. With all our human strength, we try to hold on to these things or people. In order not to lose my close and new friends, I spent copious amounts of time with them for fear of having too few memories. The looming end to our gatherings greatly distressed me.
When I finally left my job, there was a sense of loss. The same sense of loss and loneliness lingered in my quiet moments. Even though I was attending church and cell group regularly, there was still emptiness in my heart.
As time went on, I began to indulge in my emotions. Some days, I spent time relishing those good old memories, which rendered me to tears. Some nights, I cried myself to sleep. Initially, my emotions seemed validated; they made me feel better temporarily. However, over time my emotions of sadness, disappointment, and hurt increased instead of going away.
That was when I decided to share my struggles with my cell leader. We spent some time praying for healing and restoration. However, after a while, I stopped sharing about my struggle, since it didn’t seem to get any better. There was something lacking in my heart, which I couldn’t explain.
As my friends were busy with their work and I didn’t want to bother them, I didn’t know who to confide this to. I was becoming spiritually exhausted from this struggle, and I was sick of feeling depressed all the time. To put an end to it, I decided to turn to God and rely more on Him.
Finding Comfort in God’s Word
I started spending a lot of my time poring over God’s Word for comfort. It dawned upon me that all these years, the reason I had been so emotionally attached to people is because I based my value as a person on them. But once I looked to Jesus as the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I realized that my identity should be in Him alone.
I failed to understand that God is the giver, and the people I love are gifts from Him. While God’s gifts do enrich our lives, we are not supposed to hold on to these gifts so tightly.
As I read through God’s Word, I began to see that even though Jesus loved and cared for people during His ministry on earth, He never became emotionally reliant on anyone. I realized that while I cannot control my circumstances, I can control my emotions, as difficult as it may be.
In the beginning, it is hard for us to let go of things that we hold on to emotionally. We feel a sense of uncertainty as we face changes in our lives. But letting go of my emotional attachment to my friends doesn’t mean that I won’t see them anymore; it means trusting that God is the one who’s in charge of my friendships and my life. Jesus loves us more than we can imagine and He knows exactly who we need in our lives at any point. We can trust that He has our best interests at heart.
When I surrendered my emotional attachment to God, I felt less anxiety about the way our lives have taken us down different paths. But I would try to keep in contact with them, understand their needs, and bring them before God in my prayers. Slowly, my heart was at peace. And even though I can’t control the paths of my friends’ lives, I can take comfort in the fact that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Through my quiet time, God began to work in my heart and reveal to me that I’m worthy in His eyes, and I can never experience perfect love from other people, only from God.
Today, I still get to hang out with my friends after work. We share joy and celebrate each other’s milestones over a satisfying meal. Instead of looking to my friends to satisfy my needs, I want to be a blessing to them as much as they have been a blessing in my life. I won’t deny that there are days I still struggle with my emotions and the strong attachment that lingers in my heart. There are still times where I feel uncertain, lost, fearful, and less valuable as a person. It is at these moments that I realize that I am again placing my own desires before God in my heart.
When that happens, I need to ask myself: What is my heart’s intention towards my friends? Is it to gratify my selfish desires?
As I was processing these questions, God reminded me of Psalm 62:1-2, which says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
These verses reminded me that I can make a choice: either let my emotions take over me and make irrational decisions—such as working at a company near my ex-colleagues’ office, even though I do not believe in the company’s vision—or let myself be led by God and find my rest and satisfaction in Him alone.
I choose the latter.