This guest post by Mary DeMuth first appeared here.
This is one of those posts I am starting that I don’t know how it will end. During this time of COVID, racial tension, and employment worries, I (like you) have had some space to observe my life. And something has bothered me.
I get mad when I see someone offer grace to a struggling person. And that makes no sense to me.
Why wouldn’t I be heartened? Why wouldn’t I rejoice that grace is being shown to someone who needs it?
As I dig a little deeper, something even more outrageous surfaces. I get mad at the needy person for being needy. I don’t direct this their way, but internally I feel this anger.
And then I dig to the bottom of all this, uncovering this truth: I despise neediness. If I peel it away even further I realize I despise it in myself.
I hate being needy. I hate ME being needy.
Because I’m not supposed to be.
I’m supposed to be resilient. Strong. Capable.
I grew up in a space where I was allowed only positive emotions. Neediness was not simply punished, but despised. To need someone meant failure because more often than not, my need was met with how inconvenient my pain was.
So I learned how to be spectacular. I learned how to persevere. I practically tattooed the word TENACITY on my heart.
Getting back to being angry at a person who calmly demonstrates their need: I think I’m angry because it points out what I didn’t have. I remember talking to a father about his daughter, and she faced some very difficult struggles. He lamented there wasn’t more he could do. His tenderness stunned me, and I teared up. But then I steeled myself. In my mind, I thought She should just get over her pain. She is inconveniencing her father. Why can’t she just move on?
Now I realize those are words I speak over myself.
I should just get over my pain. I am inconveniencing my Father. Why can’t I just move on?
To acknowledge a father’s kindness toward his daughter is to realize I have to mourn what I didn’t have. So I push it away. I strive to be perfect so I can be “perfectly” loved.
This is not wholeness.
Instead, I’m learning it’s okay to be needy. It’s okay to say I missed being nurtured growing up, and that created a wound in me. It’s okay to shift my beliefs about God–from believing I’m a colossal inconvenience to celebrating his genuine care for me, his precious daughter.
Maybe you need to know that too. Maybe you need permission to look at some of your strange reactions to situations and dig a little deeper and ask why. Maybe you simply need to know it’s okay to be needy, and God’s love doesn’t change based on your ability to endure. He doesn’t love you less if you openly hurt. He doesn’t love you more if you hastily bandage the wound and pretend it’s not there.
The truth? God already knows your neediness. He does his best work in and through it. Instead of despising it, see it as the welcome mat to his affectionate strength.
Friend, it’s okay to be needy. You are loved right now as you read these words on a screen. I struggle with this too. We’re on this journey together. I just wanted you to know.
Mary DeMuth is an international speaker and podcaster, and she’s the novelist and nonfiction author of more than 40 books, including We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Harvest House Publishers 2019). She lives in Texas with her husband of 29 years and is the mom to three adult children. Find out more at marydemuth.com, and join her 21 Days to Healing email series at https://marydemuth.ck.page/86b4f07cae.