Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tales of beauty from the rubbish heap: The beauty of neediness

It's an honor to feature another friend's tale of beauty from the rubbish heap, a little dream I rolled out last May. From the first day I happened upon her words, I was drawn in by her courage and commitment to show her real self as a person in church ministry, and how she feels about her role, without the expected "Christianese". Would you please welcome Liz von Ehrenkrook, whose refreshing and thought-provoking words you'll find over at her blog, So I Married a Youth Pastor?

* * * * * 


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


  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and meaningful post.

  2. This is beautiful, Liz!
    Even though I am not an introvert I can definitely relate to the "I can do it all" mentality. Since I am single I am often forced to do things on my own and most of the times I enjoy it. I guess it will be interesting to allow my needs to get to someone else. This year has been challenging and I had to face certain needs I had. And also, how difficult it was for me to express them to someone else! I guess I've just been "programmed" the same way like you...
    I really like how your relationship with Mat taught you to be show your needs to God. Definitely agree this is no accident. :) I hope I can be more courageous and needy with people close to me, it's a process, but obviously a rewarding one...
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Katha! It's definitely a process, this learning to be needy.

  3. Mmmm WOW. Yes, Liz. This is one my favorites that you've written. Bravo, friend.

  4. Love you, Liz. I've been struggling with my neediness lately. I don't like being needy. I want to be okay with needing a Savior. I know I need Him, but I don't like it. Prayers for me!

  5. The other day I took two of my kids to the Dr and ended up calling my husband several times at work. At some point my daughter asked, "Why do you keep calling Daddy," and I think I replied something like, "Because he's my partner and I want to tell him what's going on."
    Some rough seas this past year have helped me learn to lean more than ever and it's amazing to watch God and the people he's placed in my life rise to the occasion.

    1. It's so important to be okay with leaning on your spouse, because at some point they are going to need to lean on you. I have struggled being okay with my recent neediness but it has grown my relationship with my husband so deeply. Now I just have to make sure I don't overwhelm him!

  6. I followed you over to Beautiful Rubbish and learned your story. I like you even more now!!! Mat sounds like a keeper. xo

  7. I'm a very independent first born who is capable of doing most everything herself. I never really thought about how this comes across as "I love you, but I don't need you." I'm going to have meditate on that and ask Jesus what He wants me to know about my independence. Makes me think about our oldest son, who at 2 years old would swat your hand away and say, "I do it all by mineself."
    Thank you for sharing your story...very refreshing!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Would love to know what Jesus tells you about your independence!