I hate that word. I always think, “I don’t want to be a needy person.”
By that I mean that I don’t want to be begging people for more attention than they want to give. I don’t want anyone to spend time with me or do things for me because I demand it, but rather because they desire to do so. We all know many of the one I don't want to be - the needy people who beg for approval, attention, and assistance and seem to know no boundaries in their cries.
It’s more forgivable in children, but still, one can only take so much. As a teacher, a room of needy children can almost send me over the brink. The first thing I teach my students is to “Read the list on the board!” The second most-used statement? “Well, solve your problem!”
On Tuesday, I had a room of needy children. One had been absent nearly a week and was lost in the piles of unfinished work. Another cannot read, so never works without assistance. Since the arrest of his dad, another has been unable to settle or focus. Someone else’s parents had been busy so, loving school, she had saved all her interactions up for the classroom And then there’s the one who, accustomed to his mom’s undivided attention, cannot understand why he cannot have mine. I had asked the class to begin their vocabulary assignments - for the first time without my assistance. And I’d asked them to read two sets of directions by themselves. And continue through the list while I did reading groups. And everyone NEEDED me.
“Ms. Wells, like this?”
“Ms. Wells, is this math problem done now?”
“Ms. Wells, which part do I write?”
“Ms. Wells, I have fillings in my teeth.”
“Ms. Wells.” “Ms. Wells.” “Ms. Wells!”
It took every breath I could hold to maintain composure. But it was one of my precious girls who got to me. At first, I thought it was just the angle of her height (or lack thereof) to the pencil sharpener that was breaking the soft leads and requiring me to sharpen the pencils, but as the day wore on, I wondered why this new problem had surfaced, 8 weeks into the year. I suddenly realized that if she were not by my side, she was pretty much off-task and in trouble, but if she were near me, she functioned to her full high potential. Subconsciously, I think she knew this, too.
I thought about this smart, capable, lovable little girl. I wanted to snap her head off, but why? Because she needed me. I knew home was a little rough at times and every day I’d find sweet notes on my desk, left by a child, resilient yet -
She needed me. Not because she was “needy,” but because she needed love and approval and boundaries. She didn’t need my help, really. She needed my presence.
Suddenly it hit me.
My nature is NOT God’s nature. I don’t appreciate neediness, but He - He wants us to need Him. He wants us to desire His presence, to seek His approval in every move. He wants us to ask Him if we’re doing the right item on the list, if we’ve done it correctly. He gives us tasks that we’re not accustomed to, asks us to finish the assignment or read the directions, because He wants us to ask for help. God, unlike me, is omnipresent. He can handle every cry for help that is heard. There is enough of Him to meet the needs of every needy person.
God wants a Church full of needy children. Not needy toward one another, but needing Him. Needing His presence, His boundaries, His consistency, His guidance. God wants us to need HIM.
Even if it’s just to sharpen a pencil.