Needy by Design

No one wants to be needy. But this one thing makes us needy and there’s nothing we can do about it, no matter how hard we try. And we try really hard. We pretend really hard. But the one thing that makes us needy against all our best efforts to the contrary is… God’s Design.

God created us, like it or not, with basic human needs like being loved unconditionally. Like being welcomed and wanted. Like being touched in loving, respectful ways. Like being known, heard, and understood.

God created us needy to draw us into community. We are his image-bearers, after all (Genesis 1:26), and the Godhead himself lives in Community within himself.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:4. The word translated “one” at the end of that verse in the Hebrew is a plural oneness we don’t have in English. It is only used for God. The point is, the Trinity lives in community with himself. So if we’re his image-bearers, shouldn’t we live in community also? If fact, we reflect his image more when we’re in healthy community with each other than we do individually.

God created us to long for community with every fiber of our being, because it’s only with others that we find our completion, the fullness of our own identity.

But something’s gone wrong. We’ve been hurt by others. So we often decide we don’t want community. It’s too risky. It’s not safe.

So we hide from what we desperately long for. Hide ‘n’ seek is only fun when someone comes looking for you. If the person who’s “it” counts while we hide but then goes inside for a snack, leaving us in our hiding place, it’s no fun at all. It’s downright hurtful. It’s no fun hiding for long. Yet some of us have been hiding all our lives.

We hide with all our might while desperately yearning to be found. Sometimes we hide behind controlling everything and everyone. “They will only find what I want them to find.” Sometimes we hide behind perfectionism, behind being the good boy or the good girl. “I’ll be good so they won’t see who I really am.” Sometimes we hide behind bad behavior we know is wrong. “They’ll never come close enough to see the real me in here.” Sometimes we hide behind addictions to medicate the pain. “I won’t even see me in here. I won’t feel the pain.”

The only problem is, none of it works. And that’s the grace of God in our lives. He won’t let it work, for long at least. He keeps engineering situations and circumstances that undermine our best efforts to hide.

Like a loving parent playing hide ‘n’ seek with a child, he knows where we’re hiding. But instead of violating our hiding place, he’s standing in the middle of the yard saying, “All-y, All-y, all come free!” It’s safe to come out now. It’s safe to run to his loving arms. We have a choice to leave the false safety of our best hiding places, engineered to keep us safe by our own efforts but failing miserably. We have a choice to run to the true safety of his arms, a truly safe, but vulnerable, place where we’re not in control, but neither is our fear.

And that’s our choice, between fear or vulnerability.

So often God brings healing in the context of community, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be loved to life by imperfect people whom we are called to love to life in return. Yes, these imperfect people will still hurt us, but what we do with that hurt is different. We embrace it and give it to Jesus, rather than hiding from it. And he heals it. Occasionally we need to change communities to a healthier one. But more often God gives us his heart for the other person, and shows us how to love them to life.

How about you? Are you hiding in fear? Or have you embraced vulnerability in a safe, loving, community? Tell us your story in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share if you think this post would bless someone else.

2 replies
  1. Charlene Mozee Harris
    Charlene Mozee Harris says:

    A great essay concerning community as I currently have taken a step back from my church community due to a disappointing circumstance. My first response was to visit churches attended by other family members but immediately decided that was not a good idea based on my current emotional state. So I have decided to take a sabbatical so to speak but involve myself with the broadcast community of ministers for my sermon needs and of course social media is my other go to for some community relief.

    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Charlene! Yes, community can be tough, disappointing and hurtful. And sometimes it’s good to have a break, but try to not let it go too long. We all need people in the same room to love us to life. As great as online communities are, and here I am building a website, there’s nothing like the real thing, community face-to-face, in the flesh, where you can touch each other.


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