Question (from Facebook community): “How do you protect the relationships with the people who love you, in the midst of crisis, and how do you move forward in those same relationships from a place of abundance, rather than just constant need?” 

Since I was a little girl, I had this sense that I was a little off, needier than everyone else. There’s really no way for me to know if this is true or not, there’s no way to really measure emotional neediness (thankfully!), but I have come to realize that we are all needy. Some of us are perhaps a bit needier than others but some of us are just masters at hiding our huge need. I dragged my need into the first twenty or thirty years of my friendships (okay, well, I still do, but not nearly as much as I used to) and I feel like I have sucked so many people dry. This has left me feeling embarrassed and ashamed, and inadequate to handle life on my own. I’m now choosing to look at it as a gift that I have the necessary humility to know when I really need help and to ask for it until I get it.  

But I don’t want all of my relationships to be me-centered or based solely on what someone can do for me, by any means. I want relationships that are back-and-forth, that are give-and-take. I want relationships that allow me to take care of others as well as me being taken care of. I think that’s what God wants for us. However, there will be times of greater need that we will all go through…a health crisis, a job loss, a marriage dilemma…all of these things can derail us and leave us emotionally impoverished. And we all require a support system around us for times like this.  

So, first of all, let go of the guilt that you’re carrying, the responsibility that you feel, to protect your relationships when you’re in crisis. If the people in your life truly love you, they will understand that crises come and go.  

However, hold onto realistic expectations because even if someone loves you, they may not have what it takes to be there for you. This is not your fault and this is not their fault. We have to remember that everyone has something going on at all times. Though the ideal is that you’re going through something when your friends aren’t so they can be there for you, and then vice versa, it’s actually more common for my circle of friends to all have something kinda crazy going on at the same time. So, in the midst of our own thing, we’re trying to walk alongside each other as well. 

Which brings me to the second part of your question…how do you move forward in your relationships from a place of abundance? Simply by doing it. Ask for help when you need it. Accept help when offered. And at the very same time, offer help when it’s needed and meet needs when asked.  

We need to learn the dance of holding each other up, leaning on each other so we both can keep standing. Yesterday, I met a friend at the doctor’s office for moral support before and after her appointment. But the day before I was numb over a couple horrible things and she had been sending me texts of encouragement.  

I think what you’ll find is that almost everyone feels the way you’re feeling…needier than the next guy…from time to time. But we learn to ask and offer, to give and receive, to dust each other off. We learn to show grace when someone can’t be there for us for whatever reason and we find someone who can. And on the days that we’re feeling even a bit stronger, we offer that strength to someone we love who is faltering. And so the cycle continues. 

Two are better than one…if one falls down, {her} friend can help her up. –Ecclesiastes 4:9a, 10-