Pause. Renew. Next.

Tag: needs

Desperate Bandits

Last weekend, our family embarked on a camping adventure together. I am labeling it an “adventure,” because we chose to camp on Cumberland Island, a National Park in Georgia that can only be reached by ferry. Taking enough supplies and food for two adults and four boys onto an island to camp for 3 days in the heat of summer is definitely the epitome of adventure.

Cumberland Island is a wilderness full of beauty and nature. The beaches are virtually deserted. Wildlife is abundant! Wild horses and deer roam the island. Egrets and herons can be seen walking through the marshlands. Sea turtles nest along the beaches. It really is picturesque.

Unfortunately, some of the wildlife is a little more interactive. Wild raccoons also roam the island and make themselves at home in the campground, waiting for any morsel of food to claim. We were visited by our first raccoon two hours into the trip. We heard rustling in the bushes and saw beady eyes looking at us, as he sneaked around our campsite, checking out our wares. We put most of our food into a latched food box provided for the very purpose of keeping food safe from raccoons. We hung our trash from a tall pole, and tied up our cooler with bungee cords. We were prepared.

The second day, we discovered that the raccoons could climb poles. Our trash was torn open from the bottom. Later that afternoon, we found that a bag of food inside the food box had been torn open through the wire mesh holes on the outside of the box. I found pieces of shredded bags and oatmeal cookie crumbs all over the ground. We adapted and started putting all of our food as close to the middle of the box as possible. We also started putting our trash inside the box to to keep it safe.

One night, as we got ready for bed, I peeked out of our tent and saw a raccoon digging in our fire pit…which was still aflame. He was managing to pull out charred scraps of food we had thrown into the fire after dinner. In order to do this, he was sticking his paws into the fire to pull out salvageable scraps. Talk about desperate!

Caught red handed!

No wonder raccoons are called bandits! They will not stop at anything to get what they want. Even when it seems desperate. Even when their objective is a burned scrap of food.

But maybe humans aren’t so different. We have needs too, and if we can’t get our needs met in direct and healthy ways we often find more desperate means to get them met instead. Usually, in the United States, we don’t have to work so hard for food, but we may find ourselves desperate in other ways.

Connection: When we don’t have healthy, caring relationships, we will find other ways to get the need for connection met: toxic relationships, gangs, social media, online gaming, codependency, pornography….the list could go on and on.

Recognition: We all have a desire to be affirmed, validated, and recognized for who we are and what we contribute. When we don’t receive this feedback from those we love and respect, we might seek it in other ways: social media, an unhealthy drive for success and perfection, seeking out inappropriate attention from the opposite sex, workaholism, etc.

Security: All of us have a built in desire for both physical and emotional security. When we feel this sense of security is threatened in some way, we can put too much emphasis on things that will seemingly provide for us: a good job and benefits, a large savings accounts, great health or life insurance, the perfect relationship, etc.

There are so many areas where this could apply. Desperation causes us to make choices we would not make under other circumstances, and it’s never a fun place to be. It’s not fun for raccoons, who burn their paws to earn a charred morsel, and it’s certainly not enjoyable for humans who were given a God-ordained soul and an innate need for connection.

Pause: Take a deep breath and find a comfortable place to sit. Think about a time in your life that you may have felt desperate to have a need met in your life. How did you go about trying to meet that need? What are other, more healthy ways that you could have gone about it?

Renew: Think about, journal, and pray about how the Lord has provided for you in your life. How has he provided for your relationship and security needs?

Next: Beginning to make healthier choices means becoming more aware of our own needs and tendencies. Start paying attention to your own needs and work on finding ways of communicating those needs to others in your close circles of relationships.

May we not settle for scraps, when God has designed us for fellowship with his saints and with His Spirit!

Pause, Renew, Next!

Asking for What We Need

Whether or not you’re aware of it, you have developed strategies for how to get your needs met. You began developing these strategies as an infant. “If I cry, someone will come feed me.”  From our first moments, we are designed to use our voices to be heard and to get our needs met.

As we grow, our strategies evolve.  A preschooler might say, “You gave her a cookie; that’s not fair.  I want a cookie too.” Already, in a few short years, we learn not only how to get our needs met but also how to manipulate the situation to get the desired outcome.  

The most effective way to get our needs met in relationships is simply to ask.  Although it seems easy enough, asking for what we need can be hard to do, even as an adult.  It can leave us feeling vulnerable, because it opens the door to the possibility of being told no.  The word “no” often feels like rejection.

Being able to ask for what we need in relationships is a topic that comes up often in couples counseling:

“We’ve been married for 10 years, shouldn’t he know by now what I want for my birthday?”

“I want him to come up with a surprise for our anniversary.”

“I wish she would hold my hand more often in public….”

Have you asked your spouse for those things?

Very often, the answer is no.  Although it may seem that your spouse should know what you want and need after years of marriage, often, they just don’t.   Even loving spouses are not mind readers.  In most loving relationships the partner does care about his/her spouse’s needs.  If those needs are communicated in a clear and respectful way, meeting those needs can be a joy for the partner.

In some relationships, it may not feel safe to ask for what you need.  If you have been in a toxic or abusive relationship, there is a good chance that you have learned not to ask at all, because you won’t be heard anyway.  However, in safe, healthy relationships, where there is love and respect, expressing needs and desires is a key to the growth of trust and intimacy.  Not only can we learn to advocate for our own needs in safe relationships, but our loved ones will also grow to better understand us.

This topic is relevant to parenting as well.  Often we hear parents say to their screaming toddlers, “Use your words,” or to a teenager, “Talk to me with respect!”  Parenting is an effort in training our children to be able to regulate, have healthy relationships, and become independent human beings.  Learning to appropriately ask for what they need is a huge part of that process.

My youngest son and I playing at the creek.

Parents love their children and desire to care for them and respond to their needs.  When my child asks me for a hug, I am happy to comply.  In the process of asking and receiving, children learn that they are heard – that their voices and needs matter.

Jesus teaches in Matthew 7, that our Heavenly Father cares for us in the same way.  He desires to give His children good things and encourages us to come to Him with our requests.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

In John 14, Jesus says that if His disciples ask anything in His name He will do it.

John 14:14 ESV

Unlike a spouse, parent, or friend, the Lord really can read your mind.  He knows your needs better than you know them yourself.  Still, He encourages us to come to Him with our requests.  He longs to hear our voices, our needs and desires, and He’s the best listener there is!

Pause: Quiet your mind and body.  Meditate on the verses above.

Renew: Before one can ask for what they need, it is important to first recognize what that need is.  Spend some time identifying any needs in your life that you want to bring before the Lord.

Next:  This week, pay attention to the strategies you are using to get your needs met in relationships.  When you find that you are resentful over needs or wants that have gone unmet, consider how you can best reach out and ask for those needs in the future.

May you be encouraged today to come with confidence before the throne of God, your Heavenly Father, to ask for what you need.

Pause, Renew, Next!

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