* * * * *
I have always been proud of my independence. It’s been a romantic sort of notion, never needing anyone for anything but keeping them around because I enjoy their company.
When I turned 18, I moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment, in another state. I was on my own and living alone. It was the most exciting thing in my life since I’d gotten my driver’s license and graduated high school.
I loved reporting to no one. On weekends I chose whether or not I wanted to see anyone or go anywhere. I ate what I wanted for every meal, if I ate at all. I slept in.
When I would venture out, I’d spend hours driving at night learning which highways intersected and which part of Seattle was my favorite. I’d cruise the streets, watching people spill out of bars and dream of turning 21.
I remember a married friend asking me once, “What do you do at home when you’re by yourself?”
“The same as you do. I read, clean and do laundry, watch movies, cook meals. I just don’t have anyone in the next room when I do.”
I had not yet discovered the term introvert.
* * * * *
It’s taken me a long time to realize how much I insulated myself with independence. It was my protection; it kept people from getting too close.
I needed to know there was nothing I couldn’t do on my own. I needed to know that if I never did find a forever mate I could carry all the groceries up the stairs, replace the burned-out light bulbs, mow the grass and change a tire.
Being strong-willed meant I was a healthy woman who could master the single life void of a man’s help - or anyone’s help for that matter.
I needed to be viewed first as independent and self-sufficient.
* * * * *
I’ve been married for almost eight years now. My husband, Mat, told me recently that I had changed, “You’re so needy. I’ve never seen you like this before.”
I cried. How did I get like this?
Needy is a bad word in my book.
Mat has always wanted to be my provider, my rock, but my independence short-changed him. I wouldn’t let him reach the things on the tops of shelves, or bandage a wound if I’d hurt myself; I’d break my back rearranging furniture before allowing him to help.
I didn’t realize I was sending a message: “I love you, but I don’t need you.”
* * * * *
A few weeks ago I sat on the couch holding back tears. They were the big kind, the ones that fill your eyelids and then spill out onto your cheeks in a thick, steady stream. I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling so I sat still, trying to shut myself down.
Mat was putting on his shoes, he had somewhere to be; I didn’t want him to leave me but I didn’t want to burden him with the ask, “Please stay.” The words were caught in my throat.
He moved to kiss me goodbye and the tears exploded. He didn’t ask me what was wrong; he simply pulled me into him and held me while my mascara stained his shirt.
Mat cancelled his plans without question telling the guys, “My wife needs me.”
* * * * *
I am learning how to love my husband according to his love languages, not my own. And loving differently has inadvertently taught me how to be needy.
So while I can get through the day without my husband’s help, I don’t want to.
I absolutely, without apology, need Mat. I am desperate for him.
The relationship I have with Mat has grown my relationship with Jesus. I’m pretty sure it’s no accident.
My independence taught me I didn’t need Jesus and for the six years I was on my own, living alone, I didn’t know him.
Marriage changed me. I love Jesus because he loves me in return, in my own language. I understand more now about God’s love because of Mat’s love for me.
I have learned how to trust, and I am learning how to let go.
More importantly I’m learning how to be needy.
Lord, I need you
Oh, I need you
Every hour I need you
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh, God, how I need you