No one I know wants to be needy. It sounds so . . . clingy and pathetic and helpless.
And yet, isn’t that what we are? We launch into this world screaming, naked, and hungry, and we exit this world—if we live to a wrinkled old age—stooped, forgetful, and dependent on others.
But for the few years in-between, we shove our neediness down deep, put on a big-girl smile, and live as if we have no needs—as if we’re not hungry and crying and empty on the inside.
But every once in awhile, we catch a glimpse of our neediness, like this girl:
I didn’t think I was boy-crazy, but I asked some close friends of mine and they said they thought so. So I decided to stop. I’m not talking to anyone about guys, flirting with guys, dreaming about guys, or anything else. But it’s so hard. My crush and I are both in student leadership in our youth group. . . . I can almost feel my commitment melting away at the sight of him. I want to fulfill this commitment, but I don’t know what to do.
What this sweet girl probably doesn’t realize is that boy craziness is really just girl neediness. (And for the record, you don’t have to be boy-crazy to be needy—any kind of idolatry is a sign of neediness.)
Yep, we’re all more needy than we realize. The question is, What’s to be done with our neediness?
Stuff it down deep. If you ignore it, it will go away.
Fill your neediness with alcohol and pans of fudgy brownies and relationships and the latest movies and lots of new clothes.
No, the answer isn’t stuff it. No, the answer isn’t fill it.
The answer is embrace it, like the great poet David:
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy (Ps. 86:1, emphasis added).
Run straight to God with your neediness. God, the One who formed you out of dust. God, the full One who emptied Himself and entered your world as a helpless baby. God, the compassionate and merciful One who knows what it’s like, who’s suffered in every way you have—yet always without sinning.
Neediness is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. [It can] just [be] pinned to the wrong hope. Looking to man to give what only God can supply is an exercise in futility, frustration, and pain. And it can lead farther and farther away from the place where that longing can truly be fulfilled.
The Girl-Gone-Wise knows what the deep longing in her spirit is all about. So when she feels needy, she directs her longing and sighing Godward (Ps. 38:9). She understands that only as she delights herself in the Lord will her needs be met. He is the One who gives her the desires of her heart (emphasis added).
You’re needy. I’m needy. We always will be, this side of eternity. The question is, Where are you running to fill your neediness?
O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Ps. 38:9).
Whether you caught The Hunger Games opening weekend (and contributed to making it the biggest November opening ever!), or whether you have no idea who Peeta and Katniss are, I’m guessing you can relate to this girl’s bottom-line question:
I finished The Hunger Games series, and I am so envying Katniss. I mean, I know they are just fictional characters, but seriously! Peeta loves her so much and so unconditionally. This guy is SO perfect. I know I have God and all, but is there gonna be a guy that really loves me THAT much??
Will I ever be loved like that? Even if I’ve never asked that question out loud, it’s been the silent question behind the tears filling my eyes after dropping yet another novel into the library dropbox or watching the credits roll by after yet another chick flick. Could that ever happen to me?
But as the books and movies have been released and the tears have fallen and the years have passed, I’ve come to believe that even if . . .
Even if Peeta actually existed in real life . . .
And even if I were his “Katniss,” the woman he lived and breathed for . . .
It wouldn’t be enough. Not for long.
That’s because the hole in my heart—and the hole in your heart—isn’t Peeta-shaped. Or Gale-shaped (Katniss’ other love interest).
A God so big the waters of the earth fit into the palm of His hand. A God of nearly 500 billion galaxies. A God who has no weaknesses, who never trips or falls or needs you to rescue Him (like Peeta). A God who not only talks about dying for you (like Peeta), but a God who actually sacrificed His life for you.
So you—a poor nobody from the dark, outer district—could enter into the closest relationship you have ever known with the kindest, most powerful King who has always been. So there could be no distance or discord or disconnectedness between you and Him.
How do I know?
Because God thought up marriage—the most committed love relationship we can experience as humans—to give us just a taste, a tiny taste, of the oneness we can and will know with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. . . . This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it [marriage] refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:25–32).
You are loved. So much more and so much better than Peeta loves Katniss. You are loved by this God who makes Peeta look . . . well, puny.
Renee felt like her relationship with God was “golden.” That is, until she met Clay. She shared her story with me over email.
It was my prayer when I first started this job that I could be God’s light at my new workplace. Then I met Clay. He was the site technician at work, and I thought he was cute. He was older than me so I made sure to check for a wedding ring, and there was none.
At first I ran toward God and kept praying over and over, “Please don’t let me be attracted to Clay if it’s not Your will for us to be together.” I intentionally didn’t make any moves or advances toward him, because I told God if this was right, I wanted to be pursued.
Well, sure enough, Clay kept chatting with me whenever he got the chance, and eventually we exchanged numbers so we could chat more. Right after that he confessed he had a fifteen-month-old daughter and was married.
I was shocked, but under the pretense of not being judgmental I accepted it and decided to be a good friend to him. We both couldn’t deny the mutual attraction though, and he eventually invited me over to his house and we hung out. Alone. Bad things happened, and I was left reeling. I knew this didn’t feel right, but at the same time everything seemed to work out. He pursued me. We were a great personality match.
We had this faux relationship for a little while where I poured out my heart to him and almost decided to get rid of my faith altogether so I could be with him guilt-free. Eventually I went back to God and confessed things were messed up and the fling ended, but I was left in loneliness, despair, confusion, and felt broken beyond repair.
Renee continued, “I’m having trouble trusting God will protect me from another situation like this because even though I asked Him to, He didn’t.”
Protection in a Suit?
Can you relate? My heart aches for Renee, and I want you to be protected from the same mistake. But girls, throwing up a quick prayer for God to protect you just won’t cut it.
I don’t know if Renee thought Clay was a Christian (I doubt it), but I do know at the very least, Renee should have run the other direction as soon as Clay told her he was married to another woman. And she certainly never should have agreed to go to his house alone. These weren’t wise decisions, and God isn’t to blame for her choices.
Fact is, God has already provided for Renee’s protection and yours by giving you a whole suit of armor. No, you can’t purchase it at your nearest Christian bookstore—but the armor of God is an analogy for six very real ways to protect yourself from your enemies. Just before the armor is showcased, we’re told this:
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Eph. 6:10–13).
How Unprotected Are You?
Let’s break this down a bit:
You’ve probably heard the story of young David taking on the fearsome warrior-giant Goliath. Goliath was decked out in a hard-core suit of armor, but he left one place unprotected—his forehead—and that’s how David destroyed him. Unlike Goliath, we need to put on the whole armor of God and not leave a single place unprotected.
Our fight is described as a wrestling match. This isn’t long-distance shooting but up-close-and-personal struggling. The devil has schemes or strategies that play on your weaknesses.
In Renee’s story, Clay isn’t the enemy. Ephesians 6 tells us our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, or humans—it’s against rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil. Renee’s enemies—and yours and mine—are unseen.
Over and over in Ephesians 6 we’re told to stand against Satan. In any battle, those who are standing still have a shot at winning. Are you down on the ground? Are you lounging on the couch? Stand and fight. I love how Matthew Henry says it:
Satan is the wicked one, and his kingdom is the kingdom of sin: to stand against Satan is to strive against sin (emphasis added).
It sounds more exciting to take on Satan than to beat down sin, but in choosing not to sin, you’re really conquering Satan! While Satan, the world, and self are all separate, they usually work together to cause us to fall. We’re usually not taking on one at a time but all three.
If you’re not up for that kind of fight (I know I’m not!), Ephesians 6:10 holds great news. Our strength doesn’t come from ourselves—God offers us His strength. So come back next week to pick up each piece of God’s armor, dust it off, and put it on with me.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear . . . what have you been trusting in to protect you from evil?
I get how Liam, Niall, Harry, Zayn, and Louis melt your heart. I do. They’re sexy, they’re funny, and they’ve been coached by the very best to know just how to tug at your heartstrings.
They’re your life. You feel like they complete you. Like they’re perfect. Like they love you even though they’ve never met you.
I don’t know how to break this to you gently, but . . . it’s all one beautifully packaged lie.
The truth is, they don’t know you. They probably don’t even care about you—other than to be grateful in a vague sense that as one of their millions of fans you give them the attention and acceptance they crave.
See, ultimately, they’re no different than you. They, too, have an emptiness—a wild, restless craving to be loved and accepted.
So they get up on stage after stage to sing songs someone else wrote that play to your insecurities and send your emotions soaring and your tears falling. And then they walk off the stage and probably never think about you twice . . . or at least not in a way that’s in your best interest.
It’s not that I take pleasure in deflating your world. It’s just that I know One Direction won’t always be there for you. Like every other band in history, they will be replaced. Like every other human in history, they will die.
That’s what I want for you. That you’ll turn from your idol and worship and serve your Creator rather than One Direction—so you can experience true joy. That you will personalize His promises the way you’ve personalized One Directions’ lyrics. Promises no boy band could ever fulfill like:
Have you watched this video of Catherine’s visit to the psychologist?
The psychologist had just one piece of advice: STOP IT!
When I posted the “How Boy-Crazy Are You?” quiz last week, several of you wrote back with what would’ve been a great follow-up question for that psychologist: How do I stop? Here are a few of your questions:
This crush has really been standing in the way between me and loving Jesus wholeheartedly. Instead of trusting Him to satisfy my soul, I’m obsessing over this guy who may not even be my future husband and having a completely imaginary relationship with him. What should I do especially now that school is starting again? The more I see him, the more I think about him.
How can I counteract these thoughts and feelings? I’ve tried but just can’t.
I’m trying to learn how to be God-crazy, but it’s really hard. I try to specifically give “him” back to God every time I find my heart longing for him, but it seems like every time I see him the feelings come washing back over me. It doesn’t help really that he’s the type of guy I think I’d want to marry someday. I know I’d be devastated if he started dating someone else. Is there anything more I can do to not let my heart belong to him?
Lately all I’ve been thinking about is how much I want a boyfriend. I don’t know how to shake it. Someone tell me how to change this!
Unlike the psychologist in this video, I have surprising news for you:
So I tried to stop it. I busied myself. I ignored guys. I refused to hope (it’s safer that way). I lied to myself. I even journaled about becoming a nun:
Steve asked if I wanted to study with him and a few others at a coffee shop. I did and struggled so much. I know he’s getting together with Megan, but when I look in his eyes, I’m extremely attracted to him. He touches me, leans in when talking, and flirts. He tickled me and held out my coat for me to put my arm in. I want to scream at him to stop, but it’s my problem. I wish I could go to a convent and be a nun.
Since I didn’t know of any convents in the area, I turned to hate. After all, you can’t love someone when you’re busy hating them!
But all my attempts to stop it were like slapping a flimsy Band-Aid on a deep, gaping wound. Colossians 2:20–23 explains that boundaries and rules aren’t enough to stop me from doing wrong. On their own, they’re not capable of getting to the root issue—they don’t deal a deathblow to the old me.
The same is true for you. You can’t stop it. You can’t fix yourself. You can’t handle this on your own. Jesus says,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added).
Do you believe that?
I realize this probably isn’t what you wanted to hear. And I don’t want to leave you with no hope like that psychologist did for Catherine. Because there is hope! Even as I tell you that you can’t stop it, I believe with all my heart—and have personally experienced—that change is possible. No, you can’t fix who you are on your own, but God is in the business of transforming broken girls into beautiful trophies of His grace!
I want to unpack how God does this over the next few weeks with you. (I know, I know, you just want a quick fix. Be patient with me!) And if you absolutely can’t wait that long, pick up a copy of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. In fact, I’ll give away another copy of the book if you’ll share about my book on your Facebook or Twitter account. Let me know here that you did so, and I’ll choose one winner at random on Monday, September 9.
Until then . . . stay away from that psychologist!
“Stop It!” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Last month my friend turned thirty, and a small group of us got together to celebrate her life and friendship. After a lovely dinner in an idyllic outdoor garden, we drove to the local civic theatre to watch the play LesMiserables.
Even though I’m familiar with the story, it wasn’t until I watched the play that I realized Eponine and I have something big in common.
Chapter six (“The Relationship in My Head”) is where I admit to the imaginary relationship I had for years with Caleb. Oh, for the longest time I didn’t realize it was in my head. But like Eponine, there came a moment of truth when I saw that my relationship with Caleb had never been anything more than a fantasy.
See what I mean as you read these excerpts from Eponine’s song. I’ve italicized the lines that especially point to her “imaginary relationship.”
On My Own
. . . now the night is near Now I can make believe he’s here
Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping I think of him and then I’m happy
With the company I’m keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head
On my own Pretending he’s beside me
All alone I walk with him till morning
Without him I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me . . .
And all I see is him and me forever and forever
And I know it’s only in my mind
That I’m talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there’s a way for us
. . . every day I’m learning
All my life
I’ve only been pretending . . .
How about you? Can you relate? Are you counting on a relationship that’s only in your head? Here’s a short true/false quiz from my book to help you find out:
The “Is It in Your Head?” Quiz
I talk about my crush more than I talk to him. (true/false)
He’s never actually told me he likes me, but I have good reason to believe he does. (true/false)
I constantly “collect evidence” to convince myself he likes me—smiles, laughter, words, and looks. (true/false)
If you answered true to some or all of these questions, you’re in danger of counting on a relationship that’s only in your head.
To read all about my relationship with Caleb—and also discover what a girl’s to do when she realizes (like Eponine and me) that a relationship is only in her head—order a copy of my book here.
Call me crazy, but I don’t believe in pursuing guys. (Was that a gasp I heard?) Yes, you might want to sit down for this. Today, I’m sharing seven reasons I’ve given God control of my love life. Are you ready? 1. I’m not actually waiting on a guy to pursue me, I’m waiting on God.
Whenever you’re frustrated over how long it’s taking a guy to notice you, remember that God is in control of everything:
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it wherever he pleases (Prov. 21:1).
If the Lord can move the heart of the most powerful man in the land, He can turn any guy’s heart. Wait for His perfect timing.
2. I want a man to prove through his pursuit that he is a godly man who will lead and love me well after marriage.
Let’s just imagine that you do capture that special guy’s attention. You begin dating, and then he pops the question. Before long, you’re a wife! Now what?
Well, Ephesians 5:22–33 says that as a wife, you are to submit to your husband as to the Lord. The question is, have you modeled and practiced a different pattern in the months or years leading up to your marriage? Did this man lead and pursue you, or did you pursue him? Don’t wait until marriage to hand over the reins of leadership. It won’t work well. Start now, and wait for him to step it up and pursue (or not).
3. I am already loved completely and unconditionally.
I no longer have to fight for attention or find my worth in a boyfriend. Neither do you. Listen to how deeply—and how long—the King has loved you:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jer. 31:3).
4. I don’t know what is best for me, but God does.
Have you ever set your sights on a guy only to realize later that he is totally wrong for you? I’ve done that more times than I care to count. That’s because:
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way (Prov. 19:2).
God, unlike us, knows everything. Including the hearts of all guys (1 Kings 8:39b). You can trust Him to lead and protect you, His daughter, even when you don’t realize you need protecting.
5. God has nothing but good in store for those who wait on Him.
You can rest easy. Psalm 25:3 says:
None who wait for you shall be put to shame.
That’s a fact you can count on from Your God who makes promises and keeps them. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll always get what we want when we want it. God tells us that in this world we will have trouble. But ultimately, in the end, He will work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).
6. Marriage won’t secure my happiness.
I am often reminded of this as I spend time with married friends. Marriage just presents new opportunities to continue to trust and submit to God. In fact, God has made it clear that marriage isn’t about you or me (sorry to burst any romantic bubbles!). We were created as women to help men (Gen. 2:18). And in a greater sense, we’re created for God, whether married or single. If married, it’s to give others a tangible picture of Christ’s amazing love for the church, and the church’s grateful submission to Him.
“I want you to be free from anxieties . . . the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32–35).
7. I need this time of waiting in order for my faith and trust in God to grow.
Waiting isn’t easy. But, life will never be easy, and I will always find myself waiting for . . . something. I have a feeling this is training ground for even greater ways I’ll need to trust Him in the future.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men” (Lam. 3:25–33, emphasis added).
Having said all this, I feel like I should say . . .
1. Trusting God with your love life doesn’t mean everything will work out beautifully, or that you’ll get what you want. This isn’t about some sort of way to manipulate God.
2. The fact that you and I aren’t pursuing guys doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly to them!
3. There are no formulas. This is about growing in your relationship with God. Be sensitive to His Spirit’s leading.
Now that that’s clear, I’d love to learn from you. Which point means the most to you personally? Do you have any additional reasons or verse to add to my list?