You know what hit me like a load of bricks at church Sunday night? I am really needy. Like really really really needy. Probably more needy than most people I know, because most people I know seem to have their stuff together. and right now, i’ve got NOTHING together. And when I walked into church on Sunday, I was SO far from having anything at all together.
You know what I try to do? In my friendships…i try to be slightly less needy than my friend. Just enough, but no more. Because if i’m more, than I turn into that burdensome friend who just is asking for way too much. The “have to” friend instead of the “want to” friend. Wow…that must just be SO freeing for them, huh? That must just be an open invitation for them to be needy back, no? i really don’t want to be that way at all…but i’m scared of the alternative. So, wanna be my friend? JK. But really, what is it that scares us about being needy?
You wanna know my reality? I can pretend all I want, but I…AM…NEEDY!
I walked into church on Sunday night, and I felt it. I felt so unbelievably needy. And for some reason, which is not often true of me, I wanted someone to ask me how I am doing. But not just a courtesy ask…you know the one. The one where you only ask because you are conditioned to ask and not because you really want to hear the real answer. But that night…I needed someone to press…ask how I’m REALLY doing.
Let me pause and address my real-life friends, who at this moment may be feeling guilty for not asking, and for not being able to read my mind and know that I needed asking. (that was sarcasm at my expense, btw.) “Dear Friends…if you know me well enough for this to make you feel bad, then you also know me well enough to know that my introverted, keep it all together, scared of emotions self ain’t always gonna let my emotions be worn on my sleeve, thereby giving you ZERO indication that I needed the asking. In other words…it’s not you…it’s me! and i’m not writing this in the hopes that everyone from now on will always ask me how i’m really doing. i’m pretty sure that would just be super messy, and i’m not sure i really want that all the time.”
it just so happened, on this one particular night, i saw and felt my neediness, and it unnerved me. and i wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
let me explain:
I walked into church (late) with this happening:
my kids not talking to me. They were fighting as we left the house. I lost all control (like I had any to begin with) and I took away their coveted 1 week free subscription to Club Penguin, which they have been saving for just the right time…ie: after they had meticulously gathered and hoarded enough coins beforehand in the “free, non-subscription” (read…very limited) game so they wouldn’t waste any time during their 1 week subscription and could immediately snag up the coveted Rainbow Puffle which you can only get if you have a subscription and enough coins, and enjoy all the benefits of said Puffle during their blissful week as subscribers, because their mean-y parents won’t pay $7.95 per month for them to have unlimited access through a subscription…Oh the sheer horror. (take a deep breath. That was one long run-on sentence.)
If you don’t know what the heck i’m talking about, consider yourself lucky…or google a Puffle to find out (which is what I had to do as it had become the newest nickname for their baby sister). And…just for the record, I think Club Penguin (or CP as my kids call it in code, so they think I won’t know what they are talking about, when in fact, I am (sometimes) smarter than a Fourth and First grader)…anyway, CP…its down right adorable. And innocent. And made by Disney, which means its magical. And i’m pretty thrilled that my almost 10 year old likes to play it. Stay young, my boy. Adulthood has the lure of fun, but there’s nothing like being an innocent kid where your only worry is if you gathered enough coins to buy your Rainbow Puffle a new toy. Enjoy that kind of stress free life as long as possible.
And so mean momma that I am, I took away their last 3 remaining days of their week long subscription. (in my defense, I started with 1 day, but things just kept escalating, and before I knew what was coming out of my mouth, the consequences I was doling out ended up taking away all the remaining days. And now that I type that, my heart hurts for them, and I’m battling being a good parent and sticking to my guns and valuing discipline, or giving in with a bleeding heart and somehow figuring out another way…ugh…parenting is hard.)
to say they were mad at me is an understatement. “You ruined everything!” is what was said to me as we were getting in the car. And that, my friends, is what could’ve made the junk hit the fan (cause I didn’t ruin everything, my dear precious son. You, my son, dug your own grave), but I remembered that I was on the way to church, and the junk hitting the fan 10 minutes before pulling into church would just make me feel guilty the whole time. So I shut my mouth and took away all remaining days plus some. So there. That’s how that happened.
I walked into church stressed, with my kids fuming at me. All except Berkeley, who in moments like that, is my favorite, until I leave her in the nursery, and she is ticked too, so then all 3 of my kids are mad. At me. For the love of all things good and holy….
and then I walk into church, carrying a baby, and a diaper bag (that weighs 10,000 pounds. What the heck…why?!) and a water bottle, keys and sunglasses (because I didn’t yet have an extra hand in order to stick them in the bag), and a baby blanket, that i’m pretty sure is dragging on the floor, which makes me even madder cause then I’m thinking about how i’m gonna have to go home and wash it, and an Ergo, just in case said baby cried for 10+ minutes and I had to get her from the nursery and bring her back into church with me…which happens Every.Single.Time. (no…of course i’m not bothered by that! I love that sinking feeling when that number pops up on the screen, and that moment when I reach for my ticket to double check that its really me…like I even need to check…and the numbers match and then I get to walk out of the church in full view, while fielding the combination sly and pity-ful smiles from my fellow mommas…you know the ones…”so sorry its you, but really glad its not me” looks.) (love you girls. Don’t worry…your time will come. And i’ll be giving you the same look!)
and my husband, who was preaching that night, and who (which I fully understand, but don’t necessarily like…cause Lord knows i’m a BEAR when i’ve got to do something like that…but not just that day, but for WEEKS beforehand) is totally busy with that, and couldn’t come help a sister (wife) out. And plus, i was kinda offended that he didn’t save me a seat next to him (not that he even should’ve or needed to, especially since in past months i sit in the back with Berkeley, but in that moment, i was just simply mad that there wasn’t one…so how’s that for complicated?), and being that i’m really good at being stubborn (like really good. Like I could win the gold medal in stubbornness, or at least reside as President of Stubborn Club…anyone want to be my VP?) and I like to throw myself pity parties, even when i’m the only one invited…i went and sat by myself as far away from my husband as possible…in the back. Alone. (insert blowing a party horn…just for effect.)
and plus…i am feeling REALLY jealous over missing out on something that I really want to be apart of, but its just impossible right now. And when I walked into church I got to see all the other people who get to be apart of it, and it just reminded me that i’m missing out, and how i’m not supposed to be sad and jealous, but in fact very happy for them, and then I get all stressed over trying to be happy when all I really want to do is punch them all. Not really. I don’t want to punch them at all. But I don’t want them to be happy without me. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)…yeah…that’s me.
Oh yeah…and we’re moving. To somewhere. Someday very soon. so there’s that…
so…its not even big stuff. well…moving is big, but…its just all the stuff that was running through my head, and all these feelings that were compounding on top of each other, and I just feel heavy. and then i feel guilty for feeling heavy and mad and sad over the little things when there are much bigger fish to fry in this world. but right now, if i’m honest, I feel like i’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, but if I explain it to people, it doesn’t even sound like that big of a deal, but for some reason, its a huge deal to my heart, and my world feels like its being flipped upside down, and then I just feel misunderstood, and foolish.
And alone. And Lonely. And the tears were burning my eyes, and my throat was burning like fire as I try to hold them back. You know the feeling…
And so I walked into church on Sunday, very needy. I needed someone to ask me, I needed someone to stare into my eyes…the windows to my soul…and see beyond the fake smile and ask me…no really…how are you?
But you know what? The problem isn’t that someone didn’t ask. (I do not go to church with mind readers, people.) the problem is this: if I had been pressed…I would’ve either burst into tears like a lunatic, you know the kind…where the emotions have just been held in for so long and they are simmering just below the surface, ready to erupt, and all it takes is one word and its gonna spew everywhere and tears are gonna flow all over anyone within a 20 mile radius. That would’ve happened, or I would’ve plastered on the fake smile and said “great! And you?” And so, I didn’t let on. I smiled. I laughed. I played the game. I wanted to be asked, but I surely wasn’t gonna just come on out and tell of my great neediness. Its all a game I play, people. One that is killing my heart.
But sometimes we just need someone to ask, right? but maybe its more…maybe we need to ALLOW someone to ask? maybe we just need to stop pretending that we are all good, its all okay, and let someone just press in, a little deeper, and then not being scared when someone keeps pressing even when you try to pretend…
Neediness…it’s a fact. You can deny. You can pretend you aren’t. But if you have a beating heart…if you are alive…I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you…but you are needy. And what’s more, we were created that way. Just listen to these needy people from the Bible:
“I called on Your name, O LORD, out of the lowest pit.”
“In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”
“They were hungry and thirsty; Their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses.”
“and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.’”
2 Chronicles 14:11
“LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You…”
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.”
“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
see? We are a needy people. A people carrying heavy loads, a people in trouble, a helpless people, a people in BIG TIME NEED!
sometimes we just need someone else to come help us carry it. Or better yet, we need a Big Capable God to carry it for us. And I think that’s why I wanted someone to ask how I was doing. So I could tell them, and then they could remind me that I AM NOT ALONE!
How many people walk into church each Sunday and need someone to ask how they are really doing? I would bet….perhaps…EVERYONE??!!
but how many of us live under the covering of, No way, not me. I don’t need you, I don’t need God, I’m great!! Life is grand! Nothing wrong here!
i’m calling your bluff, my friends. Or to put it another way, B freakin’ S!!!
I love these lyrics from that song Hosanna, by Christy Nockels:
“Open up my eyes to the things unseen.. show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours…”
that’s not meant to place burden, or a mandate to go ask everyone how they are really doing. Don’t do that. It might not be pretty. We’d have a church of crying lunatics, flowing tears like lava! Its really more this…an awareness of my own desperate neediness, so surely there are others who are bearing their own burden too. So maybe just a sensitivity towards my own neediness, which by sheer cause and effect, might make me more sensitive to others. Perhaps?
I got mad at a cashier in the store the other day. It was over something silly, but she just wasn’t doing what I thought it was her job to do. I could tell she wasn’t happy to be there. And don’t go thinking that I asked her how she was REALLY doing. But…i did wonder. I looked in her eyes (i’m sure she was thinking, What a freak! And I wouldn’t blame her, cause who’s grocery store run includes ONLY Talenti Gelato and organic avocados? That doesn’t even make sense…) And I wondered her story, because I know she has one. Cause I have one too. One that weighs me down like a 10,000 pound diaper bag. And my heart bled just a little bit for her, as I wondered…maybe her story feels like it weighs 10,000 pounds too. Or 100,000 pounds.
I wonder if she, like me, knows a God whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Who gives me rest by willingly taking on my burdens for me, if i’m willing to hand them over. And sometimes even when i’m not willing, he graciously snatches them up anyway. (Matthew 11:29-30)
and then there’s this thought…that i’m not sure I can ignore:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
of course, we are called to bear each other’s burdens. i mean…do we do that? and do we let people do that for us? but i’m just not talking about packing boxes for a move, or babysitting each others kids or cooking a casserole when a baby is born (although all of those are SUPER valuable, i know from personal experience of recently having them done for me, and they certainly are a HUGE part of bearing each other’s burdens…)
but what if we take it a bit deeper. what about carrying each other’s emotional burdens? even more, what about us LETTING people carry our burdens? letting people enter in deep enough so that they actually see our DEEP neediness, and then giving them the privilege of walking beside us in it? instead of pretending we don’t have burdens that we are carrying. do we allow people to do that for us, bear our burdens with us? like really really do that for us?
one of my least favorite feelings in the whole entire world is to be a burden on people. i hate it with a passion. so this verse…its hard for me. i don’t like to feel like i’m adding more to people…or even worse, that i could possibly be too much. so i was so struck on Sunday night, when i was longing for someone to enter in, which is unlike me. that longing…it was from God! i think He was proving this very thing to me…that this life life isn’t supposed to be lived alone…or under a mask of self-sufficiency and “got it all together” or “its not a big deal, i’m good.” it was almost like i was at my breaking point, and my heart just knew that i couldn’t carry it on my own, even though i was trying hard. it just makes me wonder…
could bearing each other’s burdens really just mean caring enough to press in deeper? and on the flip, being free enough to LET others care enough to press in deeper? letting others enter into my own neediness and letting them bear my burdens too? And then pointing each other back to the Only One who is able to bear our burdens?
I am a needy person, my friends. And that just feels darn right scary. But if it weren’t for my neediness, I would miss out on trusting the great Burden Bearer! And if it weren’t for y’all’s neediness, I would miss out on the privilege of being a burden bearer for you. See, that’s how this game is supposed to be played. Not pretending, not suppressing, not denying, but living fully as needy peeps, needing Jesus desperately, and needing each other to press in and walk beside.
So…I ask you…how are you really doing? are you willing to be honest? Wanna know how i’m doing today? today…I am conflicted. And my heart feels torn between two loves. And I want to trust God but I’m afraid at the same time. and i feel like i could fall apart at any second. and i have NO control over anything, and i don’t like that. And i’m tired and stressed and sad. And one moment I feel hopeless, and the next I hear God’s whisper of, “I’m near. So very near.” and i’m praying desperately today that God will “do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine.” (eph 3:20) whatever that looks like…
So I’m inviting you into my neediness…and hoping that it encourages you to look deep into your own. Its unnerving, this neediness of mine, but it is so very life-giving to admit. So be needy, my friends. Tell someone. Free them to be needy too. And then run to Jesus together…after all, He knows we are needy. That’s the very reason why He came.