Needs are a scary thing for me. Because really, the word “needs” is only one letter away from being a word that I’ve long feared personifying: needy.
From my youth, I have had guy friends. Often, more guy friends than girlfriends. And from the beginning of the male-female relationship emergence in our lives, I’ve heard them talk about one specific type of girl that was to be avoided above all others: the needy girl. The description didn’t really go too much farther than that; I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be needy, I just knew from the experience of my male friends that I didn’t want to be that.
Fast forward ten years. I’m twenty-six years old and happily married to my very best friend. And despite the fact that it seems as though it should have by now, life has not lent much definition to that vague word of my adolescence. So at some point, you start to devise your own definitions. At this point, I think it means “Be independent; be you; have interests and joys and pursuits of your own, separate of any other being outside of you and God Himself.” And yet, between the time that I first started hearing about and mulling over this needy thing and these past few months when I’ve adopted that definition, a bad, bad thing happened. In my youth and my inexperience and with my lack of a definition for an important teenage vocabulary term, I decided that “Don’t be needy” meant, more or less interchangeably, “Don’t have needs.”
So now, when my darling husband asks me what I need from him, I have no clue what to tell him. I know that there are these unmet longings, but I can’t put a finger on them or define them. In fact, I’m quite near afraid of them. Because they must be bad, right? Those deepest longings of my heart must make me that girl. That needy girl. And it must be infinitely frustrating for him, to genuinely long to know and meet my needs, and to see me unable to put a voice to them. So I go on needing and he goes on not knowing how to meet those needs.
Why has society drilled into our heads so thoroughly that our job is to not need anything from anybody? This idea that women are weak if they regard another human being as necessary…it’s soul-killing at best. It isolates us and makes us alone. Maybe we feel stronger somehow, more independent, more sufficient…but we feel all those feelings from a place of deeply rooted loneliness. Self-inflicted loneliness, to make matters worse.
I don’t want to live in self-inflicted loneliness. I want to be strong enough to reach out to the people God has lovingly placed in my life and tell them that I need them. That I wouldn’t be entirely okay without them. Because at the end of the day, that’s my heart’s longing as well. To be needed. To know that someone, somewhere, would not be okay if I stopped being around. Why would I deny that from someone else? Why would I assume that my husband and my family and my friends don’t need to know that I need them? Why would I assume they don’t want to be needed? That’s ridiculous, when I think about it in these terms.
God, shatter my pride and clothe me in humility. Teach me to see the depth of my need, first and foremost of You, and also of the people you’ve placed in my life; may I embrace it and learn to love others through it, rather than be afraid or ashamed of it.