Read Part 1
Interestingly, striving to meet this need to being needed can unknowingly cause us to attempt to create its fulfillment. In other words, if I do and give all that I can to another I can consequently cause him/her to be dependent on me and therefore continuously temporarily fill the void I feel. This situation can easily creep in life within the spouse-spouse relationship and parent-child relationship. At one point in my marriage and transition to homemaking, I felt as though I needed to do absolutely everything pertaining to the home. Honestly, instead of permitting my husband to act as a grown man I encouraged him to be a child through by “helping” and “giving” actions. I had taken over any responsibility he had (beyond work), but yet grew frustrated that he didn’t perform any tasks outside his job! When I reexamine this time and my motives, I’m surprised by how easily that focus on myself and my needs took over, despite the contradiction. Similarly, ever witness a parent lament of his/her adult child continuing to behave as a child dependent on him/her, but yet is also being “assisted” with gas money, rent, other bills, vehicle, insurance, or other adult responsibilities? There comes a point when the question must be asked, “am I really helping this individual or am I simply keeping him/her dependent on me.” The following question then arises, “am I doing so in order to continue to feel needed?” Perhaps a difficult understanding to arrive at in life is the assurance of still being needed beyond the time when someone you love isn’t dependent on you in the same way.
Truth is, we are always needed. We simply transition to being needed in different ways throughout our lives. For a time, we may need to pack lunches, iron clothes, tie shoes, and offer any and all assistance we can. Then, we must allow ourselves to move into another means of being needed. I believe this secondary means is actually the most important because it involves simply offering yourself. Believe it or not, what he/she actually wants most is not what you can give or do for them, but who you are for them. It’s about giving yourself. Though, that’s a difficult thing to give if we’ve yet to define ourselves by appropriate means. Do you believe you have innate value or worth just for being who you are? What about the acknowledgement and appreciation for yourself because God carefully crafted you; he designed you to be you. Yes, He instilled in you a great many things and ways to give to others. The greatest of all, however, is simply yourself. Perhaps if this is an area of uncertainty, then I encourage you to take some time to spend with your spouse or child and not do or give him/her anything. Just be fully present with your attention and interaction.
I’m fairly certain my husband appreciates being treated as an adult capable of handling some responsibilities and I making myself more available in the moment, than when I’m an exhausted mess attempting to handle and do absolutely everything for the both of us. Similarly, I believe a grown or nearly-grown child wishes the same from his/her parent by this stage. What’s truly desired isn’t what can be done in service or material gifted, but simply yourself- validated through who God is and who he made you to be.
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