Being Needed vs. Needing

I’ll be honest: I love being needed.

I know as moms we like to say, if I could just be alone and not be needed! Put me in a hotel room alone for days so I can sleep and eat and watch what I want without being interrupted! But it’s all a show. At least for me. (Not saying I’d hate it; just saying I always crave coming home to my needy rugrats).

In general, I find if I’m not needed…well…I’m not exactly sure what to do with myself.

My kids are getting older. They’re ten and seven now. They are gone at school all day. They take quick showers vs. me giving them baths.  They pick their own outfits, get dressed, and pitch in with chores around the house like laundry and dishes. They don’t beg to be entertained all the time. They can play outside alone without me worrying they’re going to run into the street. They get their own snacks. They can get their own breakfasts in the morning, and, if we’re lucky, our oldest will bring us coffee in bed on the rare occasion she wants to butter us up for something else she wants.

Instead of relishing this independence, I definitely have an internal struggle.  While on one hand, I enjoy it; on the other hand, I feel a sadness they don’t need me as much anymore. I am sure this is a normal thing for mothers to feel as their kids get older.

 But I’ve found something else recently that has really surprised me. When I am not needed, I have the time to realize that I’m the needy one.

My sort of self-sufficient, cute kids.

This pandemic has thrown us all for a loop. We’re having to suffer through things we never imagined we would. I have friends grappling with new babies and toddlers who have never met family members. I have friends managing grief and pain in a very isolated time. I have friends living in fear that COVID will devastate their family and its high-risk members. I have friends who have had to postpone funerals for months, reduce a dream wedding to a zoom call, cut off family and friends because a disease endangers their health, and completely rearrange work and lifestyles to manage e-learning and lost jobs.

Even if you haven’t experienced any of those, there is still a general sense of non-normalcy. If you’re anything like me, you were managing ok until the holidays. The holidays are when it really stung the most: not seeing family, not taking holiday trips, skipping some of the normal traditions, etc.

I’m grateful daily for what we do have: our health, our home, our healthy family members we are trying to protect, and the togetherness and joy we’ve had in movie nights, lazy days of puzzles and legos, daily walks, and more screen time than I would have ever allowed years ago.

But around Christmas, it felt like too much. And I got in a funk. And I cried. A lot. Like every other day. I was still working out. I was still eating well. I was still getting outside and being with my family and writing in my gratitude journal. But this time, I couldn’t shake it.

Recently, I finally sat down and, in my prayers, admitted to God how frustrated I was with it all. I am sure I echo many of you when I say that I’m weary of it, I’m angry about it, and I’m tired of it. I poured out my feelings in my prayers. And after I listed out every single grievance I could manage, I had no more words except, “I need you, Jesus.”

And somewhere in the back of my heart, I heard the whisper, “That is where I want you.” Relief came to me, and I felt the burden of “managing it all” during this weird time lift from my shoulders. I do not have to thrive right now. I do not have to define all the lessons I’m learning; I do not have to “be strong” or get creative or search for hidden meanings in this time. It is a hard time. The end. I can feel the grief and pain of it along with God. He does not take pride in a proud heart. But He comes close to the humble.

I don’t know that anything in recent years has stripped away the fabric of culture as much as this pandemic. We see that our schedules, our money, our successes, our trophy cases, our badges of honor, our social media highlight reels, our followers, our amazing marriage, beautiful kids, big trips…none of it saves us.   We may feel like we’ll be happier and steadier if we have those things, but the truth is, we won’t. Maybe temporarily but not long term.

Culture tells us that we have the power to make our lives whatever we want, and that we can have it all.  But the truth is we are all subject to chance, as we’ve seen in this pandemic.  Those things, even though in and of themselves aren’t bad, will will not bring us peace in a tumultuous time.

As for my kids, I realize they do still need me. They just don’t always know it (or like to show it). And how similar am I to them? I don’t realize I need God until I’m at my lowest; and just like I will always be there for my kids, God will always be there for me with a listening ear and guiding light when I need it most.

Jesus brings us peace. Rest and quietness and trust in Him brings us peace. He leads us through times and places that push us closer to Him. Be still, and trust He is using all circumstances, all pain, all trials for good if you’re a believer. Trusting God is hard, and sometimes painful, but it is all we have.

In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Remember how the Lord your God fed you all the way in the desert those forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger, and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during those forty years.” Deuteronomy 8:2-3

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