Make Your Needs Known

I don’t know about you all, but I’m not a fan of admitting my needs. It makes me feel embarrassed to confess that I am struggling. However, I have seen repeatedly how valuable it is when I allow myself to be vulnerable with others. The past 6 months have been very difficult for me, thanks to depression, but I know these months would have been even harder if I had not shared my struggle. I wanted to share what I have learned about being vulnerable in the hopes that if you find opening up to be hard, you will feel more comfortable making your needs known in the future.

One huge benefit of sharing my needs has been seeing God work in ways that I might have missed had I not opened up. When I first began to feel depressed, I battled a lot of shame and guilt about it and therefore was afraid to tell others. But even though I often feel too ashamed to share, I would rather be loved in community than be ashamed and alone. I have learned that a shared burden becomes a lighter burden. Living in community has changed my perspective on God as I have seen Him actively at work in my life and in the lives of the people I love. When I feel too hopeless to pray for myself, what a gift and joy it is to know that others are praying for me!

One of the things that one of my pastors told me once is that I didn’t need to feel like I was burdening my family and friends with my problems or feel guilty for reaching out; he said that the people of God are a provision from God to support us when we are suffering. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ, but we cannot bear what we do not know. Sharing our needs invites others in and lets them see God at work. If we do not share our needs, we are also robbing others of the chance to use their gifts to help in whatever ways they can.

The church is my family, and with my family I can celebrate the joys and mourn the sorrows. God gives us everything we need, and I have realized that sometimes what we need is other people to remind us of the truths we have forgotten. I can’t ask God why He isn’t helping me if I’m not willing to use what He has already given me–His Word, the Church, and loved ones with whom I can share my burdens. God uses His people to accomplish His work, and that work includes the ministry of comfort and prayer just as much as it includes things like therapy and medication for me.   

There have been many days where it has been hard for me to see any hope, when the despair has crept in and taken over everything. Because I know that depression lies and tells me I am alone and no one cares and things will never get better, I have to work to prove myself wrong, so I reach outside of myself. I have texted friends on more than one occasion pleading for prayer because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. My friends can’t remove my depression–though I certainly wish they could–but they can help me carry it. I know they have uttered numerous prayers for me. They have brought me meals, written me cards, given me God-honoring music, and spent time with me when I felt alone or sad.

Being vulnerable has shown me that when I am open, people draw near instead of running away. People who truly love God don’t run away when things get hard because they have faith in the God who works all things for good. There is no problem too big for God, and therefore there is no problem we should be afraid to share because He can fix them all in His way and in His time. We are not taking full advantage of the gift God has given us in the Church if we keep everything locked inside. In the 8 years I have been a member of my church, I have seen God answer so many prayers–prayers that I wouldn’t have known to pray had people around me not made their requests known. I see it as a privilege to pray for those I love, and I know the same is true for those who pray for me. Seeing God answer prayers gives witness to His goodness and faithfulness in our lives.

I am needy, but while I used to think being needy made me weak, now I know that being needy simply means being human. We all need Jesus to take our very next breath, and He wants us to come to Him in our need. Think how much lighter your burdens would be if you gave them to Jesus and allowed the church to help you bear them. Let’s come together and make our needs known and be blown away by how God meets them. Don’t be afraid to go first. You don’t go alone.

 

I Don’t Want to Be Fine

I was at a very low point.

It was November 5, 2012, the day after Charlotte fell and cut her ear, and the morning of the surgery to stitch up that ear. And I wasn’t there for her. Instead, I was at home, barely able to get out of bed, much less drive my car, and because the doctors thought I had C-diff, which is highly contagious, the hospital didn’t want me on the pediatric floor anyway. I felt terrible physically but also emotionally because I wanted so badly to be there for my baby. I was hopeful, however, that things would soon turn around because my doctor had called in a prescription for a stronger medication to treat the C-diff. I hoped that the medication would finally put me on the path to recovery so life could return to normal.

Then, I got a call from the pharmacy. They were out of the medicine and wouldn’t be able to get anymore until the following day. All the other area pharmacies were out of the drug as well. I would have to wait another day. I was crushed. In the grand scheme of things, one more day was not a long time, but in that moment, after weeks of feeling awful and on top of everything that had happened with Charlotte, it was too much. I burst into tears and just sat there in the dark in my living room. Stephen and my mom were both at the hospital with Charlotte, so I couldn’t talk to them. I felt so alone. I pleaded with God to speak to me, to show me His love because I was having a hard time seeing Him in the midst of all this.

Not a minute after I prayed, my phone rang. It was a sweet friend from church, calling to see when she could bring by a meal for us (as so many others in our church did during the time that I was sick). Instead of answering her question, though, I burst into fresh tears and asked her to pray for me because I was having a really hard time and felt like I was losing it. Without hesitation she prayed for me, and her words washed over me like a wave of peace. The prayer she offered didn’t change my situation, but it changed my perspective, like prayer is so apt to do. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit prompted Karie to call me at that exact moment, and I am so grateful that she was obedient to that prompting. Prayer is a powerful thing, not because of the person praying but because of the One being prayed to.

That moment from November will forever be etched in my memory as a turning point for me, a time when I realized that it does no good to keep struggles bottled up inside. It does no good to put on a mask and pretend to be fine. As Lisa-Jo Baker wrote in a beautiful post earlier this week, “Fine means the end of a conversation. The beginning of nothing.” If I had just pretended to be fine when Karie called me, I would have missed out on the blessing of having her speak truth into my life. I would have missed out on the Lord showing His love to me through one of His children.

Vulnerability is a hard thing, but isolation is even harder. None of us has to bear burdens alone unless we choose to. I choose not to. I don’t want to be fine. I want to be known. I want to be in community.

Slowly but surely, I am finding my way there.