I have four boys, and they love physical contact. My days are full of wrestling matches, sword fights, and lego man battles. In the midst of all the playing and running and jumping on each other, sometimes one gets hurt. Oftentimes they’ll brush it off and keep playing, but other times the hurt one will look at me, run over, and fall into my arms, tears streaming down his face. I hold him close, wipe his tears, and tell him it’s going to be okay. After a couple minutes, he’s back up and running around with his brothers again. As his mom, I would’ve liked a little more cuddle time, but he felt good enough to jump back into playing. He knew he had a need to be comforted, so he came to me. Once that need was met, he was ready to tackle the world again.

Just like our bodies have physical needs like food, water, sleep, etc., our souls also have needs. Here are three basic, universal needs for the soul:

1. INTIMACY 

Intimacy is being close, familiar, and usually affectionate with another person or group. One way to remember it is to break it down like this: into-me-you-see. It’s allowing people to see you as you are and love you. If you’re feeling overlooked, overwhelmed, insignificant, or unknown, you might be needing intimacy.

It’s easy to be misled into thinking that intimacy only comes through sexual or romantic relationships. That may be the only way we have experienced it in the past. God actually desires us to be intimate in other ways. Finding ways to relate to people on deeper levels of understanding (not just talking about the weather, but hopes, fears, and dreams), is how we become known. Of course you don’t have to do this with everyone, but to talk about these things with people you trust can be life-changing and meet that need for intimacy.

2. CONNECTION

Feeling connected comes from knowing that our story is not an isolated story and that we were born for a reason. We need to know that we are part of something greater, and our story is part of the eternal plan of God. We were not made for isolation and independence; we were made to thrive within a family. If you’re feeling alone, isolated, stuck on yourself, or like no one accepts you, you may be needing connection.

The first place to get this need met is with God. He fully loves and accepts you for who you are. We need connection with others as well, though. We need to interact with people face-to-face, help people in need, celebrate people, and allow them to celebrate us. Ask God to help you find healthy people who can know you, speak into your life, and influence you.

3. COMFORT

Comfort is the need to be soothed, reassured, and encouraged. You don’t have to be on earth too long to know what it’s like to feel pain, sorrow, rejection, or grief. Comfort for our soul helps us feel safe and secure in unstable circumstances. If you’re feeling pain, sorrow, or stress, it may help to find something or someone to comfort you.

Brace yourself, I’m about to get really spiritual here: maybe finding comfort means taking time for a cup of coffee in the morning, getting a massage once a month, or taking that vacation you’ve been dreaming about. Okay, that wasn’t that spiritual, but denying your soul the comfort it needs is not spiritual either. God knows we need comfort sometimes, that’s why He sent the Holy Spirit to be our “Comforter” (John 14:16). Don’t deny yourself comfort, but find healthy ways to make sure this soul need is met.

You may be wondering what all these needs have to do with sexual purity. We sometimes mistakenly identify these needs as a need for sex.

It’s important to pay attention to these needs so that we can take care of them before they escalate to more than we can bear. It’s at this point that we’re often tempted to settle for easy fixes to get us out of pain like porn, masturbation, or a one night stand. Don’t settle for things that don’t satisfy, but learn to steward your soul needs and seek out the One who does satisfy.

We may not be like my little ones, having a mom and dad in our lives to help meet all of our needs, but we do have a good Father looking out for us. We are not orphans. The One who designed us for intimacy, connection, and comfort will be faithful to help us meet our needs. It may not be easy to take the first step and ask Him for help, but just as I held my little one when he ran into my arms, God will not deny His children the comfort, intimacy, and connection they need.