Tuesday, October 4, 2011


A theme I have been strongly reminded of lately is one that used to be part of the foundation of how I operated, and yet somehow disappeared over the past two years. The idea is that we are all terribly needy people.

Maybe sometimes it takes failure (or the ever-present threat of failure) to prove how greatly we are in need. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we need things. We need food and sleep and shelter from day one until our frames our lifeless, our eyes asleep. On a less tangible level, we need love, we need something to hold on to. And if you’re Mary, you also need significant amounts of coffee and music.

And a symptom of need is often pain. It’s like the dizzying headaches I get when I don’t drink coffee, or the slow, steady ache when I haven’t been sleeping. There is a need (whether legitimate like the need for sleep or self-imposed like my need for coffee), and it is not being filled. We feel an emptiness. We feel an ache.

I think there is an inclination for many of us to see “I need” as an unforgivable sin. And definitely in some cases, it is wrong. Most would agree that a heroine addict’s withdrawals do not justify the lengths he will go to in order to get a hit, and most would even say that severe coffee addiction is probably unwise. Many of our needs are self-created, self-imposed. But I am beginning to understand that some needs are necessary. We’re supposed to have them. They are built into who we are.

I find it interesting that in the Biblical account, before the fall, before things break, Adam and Eve are not independent. They are actually more dependent on God then. They need Him, and they know that. But after the fall they hide... after they tried and failed to do anything outside of God (and indeed in opposition to Him).

C.S. Lewis says that we were created to need God, and that part of loving God is needing Him and recognizing that need (reference The Four Loves). God does not need us, but we desperately need Him. It is in that embrace of utter inadequacy and complete sufficiency that wholeness is possible. No more hollow places. No more aches.

I don’t like being dependent, and if we are honest, I think most of us would say the same. I did not realize how fiercely I guarded my independence until I started dating. There were times when I would be incredibly upset for no discernible reason, and then I would realize I was simply angry that for the first time in years I was doing something that by its very nature required another person. It was not entirely of my creation. For this relationship to exist, I had need of someone else. And that was a terrible (and absolutely necessary) blow to my pride.

And so I am almost beginning to enjoy, on some painful level, watching God dismantle the things I once thought I had achieved. There is a quiet peace in the breaking that happens when we realize how absolutely we need and how incapable we are of filling that need on our own. I am a terribly prideful person. I am finding that one of the best antidotes for pride is being confronted with how deeply, endlessly, and painfully I need God. It is a paradox that we feel our need for Him more the closer we get to Him. We often understand it least when we are most broken, in the coldest places farthest from His warmth.

The place where my faith begins is in the place where I notice that this world is broken. Cracks run through every moment and experience, flaws like darkening veins beneath white skin. If it is broken, outside of the state intended for it, there is a need for it to be put together again. This is where I live. I am terribly broken, and I am terribly in need of the Healer.

Come, Lord. You are welcome in this hollow of me. You are the endless fulfillment to my endless need.

- Elraen -

1 comment:

Kate said...

Good post. I'm going through exactly the same thing with my boyfriend.