The Need to be Needy
Most days I take basic functioning for granted. Running water. Clothes. My friendships. A cup of coffee. I would guess the average person, if asked, would admit they take walking for granted. If I were personally asked about this, I would respond in a high pitched squeal, “No, I can’t believe I can walk!” Years ago after an hour of sitting and visiting with a friend on the tall chairs in a local coffee shop, I stood up. Or at least I tried to stand up. Instantaneously the muscles in my lower back seized me, and a bolt of torture ran through my body. This was bad news and I knew it. I went from 5’3 to 5’0 and shambled to the Jetta hoping no one would notice my bent over body. Slowly I slipped into the seat and sat for a moment hoping it would work itself out. By the time I got home it was impossible to pull the car into the driveway; I coasted to the curb, parked and hobbled into the house. For the next few weeks I lived on all fours like a small cat. Crawling around the house from one room to the next. My roommates made a bed on the floor downstairs, packed a cooler for me each day since standing to make a sandwich was unthinkable, and they graciously lifted me onto the toilet as if I had just celebrated my 90th birthday. I have never been able to walk pain free since. However, I am able to do most anything as I have had significant help from chiropractors, acupuncturists and doctors. There have been scores of lessons for me in this, but one primary take-away has been the vital need we all have to be needy. Even Christians, those of us who claim to believe that the “meek will inherit the earth,” and profess that in “our weakness HE is strong,” hate needing help. We do well to go overseas and serve those who are "poor and despondent," but to be served, to need help...we bristle with resistance. There must be a faulty belief system tucked away in our psyches. When observing the overarching themes of Scripture it is clear that we don’t want any authority other than ourselves. It’s always been this way. We are full, complete, polished and put together. We envy when we see this in other people. And ironically, some of the people who are willing to serve and give and help, are the least able to receive from others when in need. My back has broken my self-sufficiency. Jesus is all about the weak. As a matter of fact, it seemed those who were bent on finding Him were those who knew they had an abundance of hardship. Their soreness and pain compelled them to seek Him out in a crowd or travel miles to find Him. He found people in graveyards, on their beds sick, and smack in the tangles of their sin. How do we ever know the capacity of His strength or the liberation that comes from His forgiveness if we never acknowledge our cracked lives? A hot shower is refreshing when we are muddled with sweat and stain. We love a prepared meal when we have been hungry. Water is satisfying when we are parched. The sacrifices of a friend on our behalf matter more when we are hurting. I was grateful to my friends for lifting me onto the toilet because I couldn’t do it myself. And when crawling on my hands and knees, a friend getting down on the floor to look me in the eye mattered more than the conversations I had on my feet all day at work. Being human means being needy, limited, wobbly, weak, frail, wanting, longing. and reaching. This side of heaven reminds us that we are living in a state of half of who we are. The Spirit even promises to pray for us in our weakness since “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.” Community has been given to us as a means of support and supplication. As a teacher, I found myself reminding my seniors, and myself, that salvation is rather simple: you are screwed up, you need a Savior. They know it’s true but they still feel the tension in a world that says, “be perfect and strong, never let them see you be weak!” What is most marvelous is that Jesus Himself chose weakness and limitation. He modeled out for us what it is to lean into the Father. We will not find healing until we can admit we are sick.