I have considered myself to be very independent which I thought was a pretty good thing for quite awhile. Parents all seem to want to raise kids who are self-sufficient, productive members of society. But I think you can get to a point where it’s almost a source of pride that you don’t really need anything from anyone. And also a lie.
|My little snow island|
Thinking I have gotten to where I am on my own is not true. I may have put in hard work, but I had loving, caring parents who provided for my needs, provided many opportunities and advantages that others may not receive and encouraged me throughout my life. There’s no way I’d be where I am without them. And there have been quite a few people who have encouraged me and helped me and shaped who I am as I have grown up. I will never know just how much others have influenced who I have become.
More recently I have been struggling with not feeling like I have many ties to where I’m living. I’ve lived my whole married life away from my parents and in-laws. My husband and I thought it was a good thing early on because it allowed us to establish our relationship away from the influence of family. We were able to set a solid foundation for our new little family of two. And I do think it was beneficial to help us learn more about one another and ourselves and grow together.
As we’ve gotten older and added children into the family, the lack of local family support has been noticed and missed. We wish our kids would be able to spend more frequent time with their grandparents and cousins. Selfishly, we wish we had the opportunity for free babysitting.
I was reading Prayer by Richard Foster yesterday and in the chapter it talked about praying to relinquish our self-sufficiency. I realized that I do tend to operate in the mindset of self-sufficiency which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have been used to being away from family (I didn’t live close to extended family as a child and have not lived near my parents since I graduated high school) but I sometimes have mistaken my experience as proof of self-sufficiency. Just because I am not able to be near them does not mean I do not need them.
Likewise, just because I do not have something does not mean it is not beneficial and something I might truly need. In an effort to combat my misguided thinking I thought it would help me to acknowledge people and relationships I do need and their benefits. Here we go.
I need my husband. Practically, he is the one who has blessed me with the opportunity to be at home with my kids. He is responsible for all of our basic necessities (thinking about it reminds me of how daunting that may feel at times for him). He does such an excellent job of providing for us. I know I could not fulfill his responsibilities. I need my husband for encouragement and support – in personal endeavors but most especially in parenting. We make a great team and our family would be sorely lacking without him. I need him for physical comfort and affection. I cherish his hugs and kisses. I need him for emotional comfort and support as well. He offers such wise advice and can see things in situations I cannot at times.
I need my children. They made me a mother. They have caused me to do a lot of personal growing, the most extraordinary being the growing of sacrifice and service. Being responsible of the needs of others rubs on your selfishness and helps it to diminish some. I need their love, smiles, hugs, kisses and belly laughs. I need them so that I can experience life through a child’s eyes and perhaps focus once again on what is important rather than all of the distractions of the world. I love seeing them learn and grow in abilities. It is amazing.
I need my family. I need the love and acceptance that is found there. (I know there are people who do not have safe families where they experience these things.) I need my encouragers who are always in my corner, always for me, always proud of me. I need the connection of shared experiences and inside jokes (even the ones that embarrass me).
I need God. He is woven in and through all of these and I know that he is for me and always with me. I love the way he reveals a little more of himself to me as I consistently draw near to him. Just last week I heard afresh the truth that God created me for him. He is constantly surprising me with little reminders of his love though I do not always recognize them. I need God to continue to work in my heart, to remove the selfishness and judgment and lack of love that can be found there. I need him to lavish his grace and forgiveness on me so that I do not despair when I am confronted with my sinfulness. I need Jesus who rescued me from death and darkness and has filled me with hope.
I need friends. Good, close friends. I was thinking today about how my kids could potentially have life-long friends. People they’ve known since they could walk. Neither my husband and I have friends like that. We moved several times and so our young relationships were severed and new ones created. Not that we haven’t been able to establish strong relationships, just that we cannot relate to decades-long friendships (I do have a couple middle school friends I still keep in touch with and that spans nearly twenty years now but nothing earlier than that).
I feel I have struggled most in this area. I am an introvert so I yearn for a few deep relationships. Surface acquaintances do not renew or restore me. I have been blessed through the years to have found some of these relationships. My struggle is that they seem hard to maintain and my track record shows that they are usually severed when someone moves. I have accepted this as a fact of life but it doesn’t make it any easier to move on and try again. I also realize some relationships have seasons.
I realized recently that sometimes I don’t admit that I desire good friends. I think I pretend that it doesn’t bother me that not many people reach out to me so that I won’t feel as bad about it. But it is hard to do most of the initiating. Sometimes you want others to reach out so you know the friendship is important to them too. That you matter to them. We all want to be important and valuable. We want others to find us worthy of their time.
In my heart I know that God knows what I need. I know that he can provide me with amazing, honest, deep, vulnerable friendship. And I trust that he will provide me with what I need when I need it. I also think that he wants me to bring my longings to him. He wants me to seek him above people. He created me and knows what is in store for me. I trust him.
|Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I was reminded of his love for me and the truth that he can provide friendships at any time this morning. I have been wrestling with a bit of loneliness the past couple of days. I prayed that I knew God is faithful and has the power to provide. This morning at church a woman told me that she was wanting to focus more on people this year and would like to get together sometime to talk. I knew this was God’s confirmation of what I already knew to be true. I don’t know whether we will actually set aside time to get together (I’d love to but, you know, life) but I won’t be as bummed if there’s no follow through because I have confidence in God and his faithfulness.
So that’s the truth. I need people and relationships. What about you? Is there anything you try to pretend you don’t need simply because you don’t have it right now?