When You Need to be Needed

I don’t know about you, but I cry all the time. I cry at rational things. I cry at ridiculous things. I cry at the drop of a hat. And once, I cried because my husband knew how to wash dishes.

No joke.

We were very much newlyweds and we were still kind of figuring ourselves out. I was loving keeping house, and I reveled in cooking, vacuuming, and washing dishes for a man that I had started perceiving as incapable of doing those things. Any time he gave a suggestion for cleaning or dishwashing, I pooh-poohed him, sure that while he was doing taxes and fixing drawers, this was my territory. I liked feeling like he needed me.

Until one day, it backfired.

It was getting late, I was exhausted, and that day we had a giant pile of dirty dishes. I laid down for a short nap, and my husband, feeling generous, washed the dishes. But, to his utter confusion, when I walked into the kitchen and saw him smiling there, I didn’t thank him – I burst into tears.

He didn’t need me! If I weren’t around, he would be fine! I cried and cried. My poor husband was left wondering, Wasn’t I being helpful? 

Understanding God's purpose for your life when you need to be needed

People, women especially, I think, have a need to feel needed. We want to have purpose and for others to depend on the fact that we exist. We start to fill ourselves up with that “purpose,” and when it is gone we just feel… empty.

Hopefully you have never experienced that in such a ridiculous way as I did, but maybe you have on another level. This need to feel needed is the same drive that pushes college girls to give themselves to terrible guys and that prompts mothers to cry when their children leave home.

A friend of mine hit the nail on the head when she described this feeling. At a Bible study, soon after her youngest daughter had gone off to college, the ladies were answering a question about what object was a picture of their life right now. When it was her turn, my friend answered, “a worn out tennis shoe, old and useless.”

Sisters, that’s not how God designed us to be! God created this life to be filled with His love and His purpose for us.

God says right in His Word that He has designed our lives with purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God designed you to be you and me to be me with the intent of bringing glory to Himself. Then, He filled the days of our lives with “good works” that we can be busy doing. Sometimes that work looks different from what we expect or different than it was yesterday, but God knew that would happen. Just because our kids are grown or our friend is strong or our ministry has shifted or our husband has figured things out, doesn’t mean we have become a dilapidated shoe.

Our job here on the Earth is always to bring our Creator glory in everything that we do, big or small, with others or all alone. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” That doesn’t ever change. Sometimes God asks us to use our design to help those around us, and sometimes He calls us to something entirely different. The key is to be listening to what He wants for us right now by being in His Word and having that attitude of “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We have to make sure that our eyes are locked on the One who designed us for His specific purpose.

Then, once we are thinking that way, with Christ at the center, we are free to let others change and grow as God calls them to. We can rejoice that our kids have learned and grown enough to go out and do things on their own and we can be excited about how God will use them. We can be glad that our friend no longer needs our constant ear because she is leaning more on her Savior. We can be happy that our husband is growing in Christlikeness. We don’t want others to need us any more than we really need them. God designed this life to be lived in partnership and with the support of other people, but our ultimate source of fulfillment should be God.

So what could I have done that day that my husband did the dishes? Well, I could have thanked God that I had a husband with such a servant’s heart. I could have asked God what I could do to serve my husband. I could have reminded myself that God has a purpose for my life, apparently beyond doing dishes that day.

It may seem backwards, but the more we try to fill ourselves up with others, whether their need for us, their love for us, or their support of us, the further from the Lord we will drift. But the closer we grow to the Lord, the more His love will radiate from us, blessing and helping those He puts in our path.
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Meredith is the wife of an amazing husband, a lover of travel and baking, and a servant of the King of Kings. She writes at Life Along the Way, a project created with her husband as a place to share the ups and downs of their lives following Christ and to explore what it means to live life based on the Bible. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram!

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  1. In this world, we will always need to be needed as I have been able to witness first hand. We will always, always, always be needed to pray for those around us. People will always need our prayers. Our missionaries that our churches sponsor, our church pastor, our families in the church, ministries within the church, our family members, and our friends, and I’ve also learned to even pray for strangers. A homeless person walking down the road, a person who told me that I something was wrong on my car while driving down the road, a wreck I see on the side of the interstate, our military, our police and firemen. Even with all that goes on in life, we will always be needed for our prayers towards others.

  2. A lovely wonderful piece, reflective of our own shortcomings as we strive to be more Christlike. I like that you write that people should not need us more than we need them. As individuals in relationships, our goals should not be manipulative and selfish, but the building up of each other and ultimate leading to Christ, our survivor!
    Romans 15:2 – “Let each of us please his neighbor on what is good for his up building”

  3. I loved your story. I can see myself being sad when my kids go off to college and no longer need me as much. It’s so good to know that we have such an important purpose as followers of Christ!

  4. So much wisdom here, Meredith! Those transitions into when we are no longer needed can be tough if we don’t have our purpose, identity, and worth in Christ! I lived out this very story as a young woman. I am so thankful for God’s grace and healing!
    Blessings and smiles,

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