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Are you needy?

When I used to teach preschool, I had a little girl (around 2 or 3) who everyone had labeled “needy.” By this they meant that they considered her desire for affection to be too much. She liked to sit next to the teachers and often wanted us to hold her or hold her hand. If we were reading books, she wanted to be on our laps or right next to us. I think the teachers felt she was too needy because, in a preschool with lots of other children, the teachers don’t have time to give all the kids this kind of attention regularly. Also, in a preschool, there are certain expectations for children. In order to be seen as mature and successful, a child should show signs of independence.

This isn’t just the case in preschool, though. Our culture prizes independence. We think we need to make it on our own. In my college race and ethnicities class,  we contrasted certain aspects of eastern and western culture. Western culture is much more individualistic than eastern, generally. For instance, in many other cultures, it is normal for generations to be living together in the same house and pooling their resources. Here in America, the elderly want to live on their own and keep their independence for as long as possible and we consider it strange for a son or daughter to live with their parents after college even if they are hard working and contributing to the family financially.

My neighbor is in her mid to late nineties and refuses to live with her children. She’s had health issues and is getting weaker and less stable but she loves her independence and won’t give it up. That impresses us but that’s a very western way of thinking.

We don’t like to ask for help, even if we are in need. I know I’m guilty of this one. We want to get through everything on our own. We are proud when we somehow push through difficult circumstances on our own without anyone’s help.

We are a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kind of people.

However, I think we are hurting ourselves and missing out on some beautiful aspects of community. We were designed to need others. We were made to depend on God and his people.

Obviously, we have to be careful about depending on others for things they weren’t meant to fulfill. I’m not suggesting you depend on others to save you, make you happy, fulfill you, and so on. People will let you down.  No one can satisfy all your needs but it is healthy for us to live in community and care for one another.

For instance, I don’t believe that our abundance is just for us but also to fill the lack of others. We get to give to others who have needs. Most people know they should give. But then that means the flip-side of this is true as well. He wants us to accept help from others and be grateful for it. Our pride gets in our way, doesn’t it? I want to be a giver but I don’t really want anyone giving to me. When I dig deeper into that, I realize I’ve bought into the idea that independence is supreme and I’m not really “enough” if I have to accept help.

When in need, I’ll pray for help. But then when I know a person who is willing to give to me, I don’t want to ask. I think my actions are saying that I will only accept certain types of help but not others. However, one of the ways provision comes to us is through other people.

So lets work at removing the stigma behind the word needy. There’s no shame in needing others. That little girl in my class knew she needed intimacy with others. She was simply being honest about her needs when most of us would rather live in a state of denial. Our love for her was a comfort to her and we should be willing to freely provide that for people without despising their needs or our own.

We were made to be interdependent.


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