I have had a blind-spot. I didn’t know its name, but now that I do, I know that I have felt its presence for a very long time. Sometimes certain aches are so familiar to us that they cease to press into our conscious thinking; they just dully throb in the background, a rhythm so consistent it mirrors the beating of our heart.
“What are your needs?” the conference speaker inquired. It was a rhetorical question but it grabbed me hard. “You need to be able to name your needs, and also your wants. You need to be able to communicate these to the people who love you, so they can help you.” I have been paralyzed by this question. This issue of personal needs has been coming up consistently since that day in early November and when something keeps coming up, I consider that a prompting from the Lord to visit with this thing further. I also immediately recognized, albeit reluctantly, that this is an area in which I feel lost.
I can name my standard needs: nutrition, exercise, rest, devoted time with God, my family and my spouse, time with a few close friends. These needs I constantly monitor and protect. I am tuned-in to each of these areas pretty closely and visit with these issues in the presence of God for guidance regularly. You could say they are an ongoing dialogue between Him and me. Yet what I feel tender about is somewhat different: what are those needs that I cannot manage or meet within myself? What areas within me are starving simply because I ignore them or channel them into the needs I can meet? Like how often might I really need someone close to me to tell me I valuably contribute to their life yet I blindly channel that need into a desire to tune out in front of the tv? Or how often might I need to be reassured that when the time comes that I cannot hold myself up that there is another person close to me who will stand in that gap, but I numbly pour that need into an overwhelming sense of fatigue and a need for a nap? How often do I need some person to tell me that even if I really blew it today as a mother, my best that day was good enough but instead I reach for the cinnamon-covered almonds instead?
As a child, I was strangely self-aware, very in-tune to the needs which I could not manage myself. I asked for help from the people who should have been able to provide some measure of assistance, yet they remained paralyzed somehow. At eighteen, I basically thumbed my nose at God and people and said, “I’ll take it from here, thank you very much.” Of course my devastation only increased. Any legitimate but ignored need will become a driving engine within you. During my complicated pregnancy with Jake I learned to accept help from people again but I was pretty prickly about it. I hated needing others. I had never wanted to need anyone again. Over the next few years I gradually felt safer with good people and began to feel I might be part of their tribe after all. Then a season of utter devastation descended and after a while, I stopped asking for help. Last week I realized that around eight years ago, as I came to know God in an entirely new and deeply intimate way, I must have inwardly resolved never to need people in a deeply significant and vulnerable way again, that now that I knew Him in this way, I would only need Him. And I found myself wonderfully comforted with this. After all, He is more than enough, BUT…
But He won’t allow Himself to be used in lieu of substantial human relationships. He will not allow His presence to replace our need for a few committed humans to really love us deeply and love us well, to fly with us in our dreams and to prop us up in our moments of no strength . He leaves in us a need that He requires be met through fallible human hands. You can see evidence of this when He created Adam, communed with Him deeply, and then said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” What??? Adam had a perfect world plus complete and unrestricted access to God. Yet Adam needed… not just a mate, not just to propagate. He needed someone with skin on, skin like his. I’ve taught this concept and understand it. I love healthy community. But what God is pointing out in me is this issue intimacy, not community, interdependence, not just relationship. I have a few good friends in my life and a mate who loves me in the most unselfish way I could even dream. I am very loved. I feel more love now than I have ever felt in my entire life. And I have known I need healthy, substantial relationships and have these. This goes beyond that need, to more humbling needs, the need to make myself vulnerable with one of these wonderful people in a way that nakedly lays before them a tender, unprotected place within me and requests that they come into this place in a significant way.
Yes I have needs, needs that I must learn to feel, recognize, name and actually sit with while in the presence of my God. They are normal, they are to be expected, and they cannot be filled or managed by myself without becoming destructive. The process must begin in His presence and proceed with His guidance, but… God has placed some needs within me that He requires for me to humble myself with one of my safe and healthy people and request help. I have a hunch that these unnamed and aching needs are what fuel my occasionally compulsive behavior that I later regret or feel vaguely guilty about. I think God is opening my understanding to yet another area where I can experience a new freedom, but like every freedom I’ve gained, there is something that must be let go of. I don’t know if it is pride or if it is self-preservation after having been deeply wounded, but I know this: it has to go. Now that I am aware of this area, I am responsible to God to follow Him closely in it, cooperate with His process and surrender whatever He asks me to release. It’s no longer a blind spot, not entirely. It has a name and it looks like this: As a human being, I have some needs that I cannot meet, needs I must name and then request help for … from someone with skin on, skin like mine.