We all have needs (in fact, I was thinking today how I just keep getting hungry. Without fail, I get hungry every few hours. Unbelievable, right? What dependent creatures we are! We are helpless and are NOT self-sufficient! But back to the point..). We all have needs (physical, emotional, material, spiritual). Some days I just need a hug. For one reason or another I need someone to give me a hug. It’s awesome when someone notices it’s a rough day and gives me a hug but it would be just as great if I was honest with someone I trusted and said, “hey, I’m having a rough day and I just need a hug.” But that’s hard to do and I’m not quite sure why.
Needs expressed to others are known needs. And in general, needs that are known (in true community) are met needs. I’m thinking of two ways needs become known needs. First, expressing need and second, having your need found out.
Expressing need. That’s hard. Very few people want to be needy. It’s humbling to say that I am in need of something and even more humiliating to say that I need you. But I do. There are two hurdles to get over – pride that we don’t need help from each other and then the idea that our needs are a bother to each other. Even if I’m willing to say I need something, I might think that I don’t want to share my needs with people because I don’t want to bother them, I don’t want to burden them, I don’t want to inconvenience them. But we aren’t doing each other any favors by hiding need. Expressing need makes us human, makes us vulnerable, helps us connect. But mostly, it helps you love me.
I’m not helping you to love me if I’m hiding my need and my pain.
I’m not doing anyone any favors by pretending that I have my life together. We need to tell each other what we need. Graciously? Of course. Without selfish motive? Yes. But if we are really living in community with people we trust and love, telling each other our needs is not selfish. It’s living together how we are supposed to live. It’s saying, “I’m broken.You are, too. We need each other.” It’s me letting you know how you can care for me, and vice versa.
I feel loved by you when you trust me enough to tell me how I can love you and care for you. (I had to read that sentence twice… and I wrote it. That’s bad) 🙂
But! Expressing things outright is hard. So, what if we could all be people that are really good at asking questions to get to peoples’ real needs? The other way for needs to become known is for people to know us well and ask the right questions.
There are some people in my life who know me well enough to know when something is wrong or when I need something. But there are also people I’ve come across who I don’t know me well but are so legitimately interested and caring and good at asking the right questions. But even between good friends, sometimes the right questions are required. Person A can be the most caring person in the world and would do anything at the drop of a hat when asked. But as we’ve established, asking for help outright can be intimidating. So if Person B doesn’t express the need and our kind, loving Person A doesn’t ask Person B good questions to figure out how to care for and love them… then Person B doesn’t really know how much Person A cares. Of course, Person B’s responsibility is to be honest and not just say, “I’m fine.” (Make it a goal not to say “I’m fine” or “I’m okay” for a whole week. Use real descriptive words!)
Good questions are important in life because they determine the quality of the answer we will get. Some people ask the right questions to get past surface answers. It’s an art! You can tell when someone is really good at it. I want to learn how to ask those questions and how to steer a conversation! Even if people aren’t willing to come out and express their need, most people will open up if someone shows genuine interest by asking real questions.
I love Tenth Avenue North’s song, “Any Other Way.” The whole song speaks to this concept of need and community, but it’s summed up in the line, “It’s not enough just to say that you’re okay. I need your hurt, I need your pain. It’s not love any other way.”
It’s not. Love is giving, trusting, sacrificing. Is it love if we’re not willing to tell each other what we need? Is it love if we’re not willing to ask each other questions to figure out how to love each other?
So let’s give hugs 🙂 and ask questions. And talk to people (actually talk to people). People are cool.