Within your disciple is a conflict between his need to belong and his fear of rejection. He is constantly searching for a group to which he can safely attach while at the same time keeping his guard up because of the painful memories of disappointing relationships. This double message he transmits to others confuses them to the point that they do not know how to respond to him. He then senses their awkwardness and becomes even more insecure. Sometimes in a brave or impulsive moment he may guardedly attach himself to a group with an optimism that these new friends maybe different, only to be disappointed once again. The more disappointments your disciple accumulates the deeper his despair, which opens the door to erratic and self-destructive behavior.
Man is made to belong. Being an image bearer of God he is designed to belong to God and to others as demonstrated in the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The degree of your disciple’s relational pain corresponds in direct proportion to his need to belong. Evidence of the importance of belonging is seen in the void he experiences in its absence. The reason why rejection hurts deeply and its sting endures is because of the vast capacity God has given us to love.
The good news about Jesus is that he makes it possible for us to belong. Paul explains:
For he (Jesus) himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-18)
Jesus destroyed barriers and walls of hostility so that we can be united with the heavenly Father and become one with one another.