Need can be a dangerous word.
I was sitting in church yesterday, and as Jim was launching into the sermon, I was connecting bits of what he was saying to other themes that have been springing up in my life of late.
I was thinking about how if you believe that you need something, you put all of your hope and security in it. And then Jim said this:
‘Whatever you worship owns you.’ He said that anything you worship that isn’t Jesus is effectively dead, making you that thing’s slave.
I love it when someone sums up so much in so few words, and these words certainly hit me. I’ve seen first-hand the damage done by misplaced hope. In money. Success. Relationships of all kinds, especially. On that note – friends, if I could offer you any advice, it would be this: Stay away from people who tell you, or behave in any way that indicates neediness on their part. No matter how valued that might make you feel; no matter how flattering it is, it will inevitably be destructive for both parties. You are a human being. You are not infallible and you will eventually shatter the ideal they see you as. And needy people will not take that disillusionment very well.
Such advice is so contrary to the way the world views relationships – particularly romantic relationships. People look for someone to ‘complete’ them and fill voids in their lives. How long can anyone keep up such a fantasy? It’s hardly surprising that there’s so much brokenness everywhere. It’s twisted.
Friendships, too. Neediness in friendships is unhealthy, there’s no nicer way of saying this.
It all boils down to this: need is a dangerous word when you apply it to anything but Jesus. We weren’t designed to find total satisfaction in anything but Him, yet even Christians are quick to forget this. I know I’ve forgotten it. At the very least, I’ve excused neediness in others.
So what’s the solution? Surely we as humans are designed for companionship; to give and to provide and to support and to encourage. I believe God gave me a gift for counselling people. I’ve been, quite literally, a shoulder to cry on for several people this year (this is not intended to sound boastful; it’s incredibly hard to witness such pain and feel so helpless). I look back over some extremely challenging months and recognise that without some dear friends sitting with me in that darkness, it would have been darker still. Friends are a blessing and a joy and I would never tell you to go it alone.
But we are still limited. I can listen and sometimes, when it’s called for, offer advice, but I cannot fix people’s problems. So this is the point I’m slowly arriving at: All that we have and find fulfilment in is God-given, and ultimately He is the one deserving the glory and thanks for it. There will always come a point where human effort, material comfort or worldly success fails. But God does not. James 1:17 – ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’
I am quick to forget how much I need God, particularly when things are going well. Last week I got back my final essay marks. One of them received the highest mark I’d ever had in my four years of study. My seminar leader was very impressed and considering I’d written that essay in about two days under a lot of personal stress, I was admittedly feeling a little smug.
The next morning I woke up early to get to work (a shift at the university nursery to make up for lost hours at my other job). I managed to spill coffee everywhere, then also knock over my glass of water. Fail. And whilst at the nursery, despite loving kids, I felt out of my depth more than once. Writing essays about the concept of the Bildungsroman in the novels of Charlotte Brontë is apparently my forte; undressing wriggling babies is not. Haha. I feel like God was reminding me that day that I am by no means self-sufficient. Stay humble, my friends.
We are utterly dependent on Him, every day, whether we recognise that or not. But far better if we do.
You know, the above anecdote is obviously relatively minor; there have been moments in my life where God has had to strip everything away from me for me to fully understand how much I need Him. That’s not a fun place to be, but I can promise you that in those moments I learned that God is enough. Despite the likelihood that I will once again forget that and do another stupid thing, it is a comfort to know that He is truly the solid rock upon which I can stand.
Love as always.