Hi All! As I was flying from the US back to Costa Rica on New Year’s day, God gave me a personal revelation for my life that I believe you may find to be a blessing for your life, too! Here it is….
Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed for being “needy” of others? I know I have, especially during times of great distress when I feel like me and God aren’t enough—and I won’t make it through unless I have a human being that I can talk to daily.
But God showed me recently how I’ve wrongly berated myself for feeling “needy” – for longing for more companionship, support and encouragement from others at times when life has tested me to the uttermost of my ability to cope, as in the past few years.
(And here’s the big revelation, which some of you can take for yourselves, too!)…..And far from being weak, a wimp or co-dependent, I am a mighty, strong warrior who has persevered amidst circumstances that would have brought many people to their knees—or even their graves. And it has been okay, even good, for me to cry out for help during these times.
That said – I’m convinced that God’s Spirit and strength in me is the only reason why I’m still alive; why I’ve managed to survive the loss of my spouse, numerous health challenges, my mom’s cancer, a tortuous drug taper, the betrayal of several close friends since my husband’s passing; the loss of my livelihood, my home and so on over the past few years. Even 16 plane trips during the pandemic!
I’m a warrior because I’m still alive, fighting, and seeking to serve God, even when my body doesn’t cooperate with me, I get mad at everyone and everything, and I sob my guts out. But I am finally daring to believe – maybe just a little! – that God is proud of me, as I believe He is of those of you who have been in prolonged battles and felt the pain of circumstances warring against your faith, your hope, and even your love for God – but you have continued to hang in there and pursue Him.
Yet I admit, as several of my closest and most esteemed friends have distanced themselves since my husband’s passing, or indirectly chastised me at times for not being more positive—the pangs of grief and abandonment have threatened to overtake me at times, and the shadow of shame has quietly sat upon my shoulders. How dare I cry. How dare I complain. How dare I feel the pain of loss. How dare I “need.”
But this year (maybe you can call this my New Year’s resolution!) I am resolving to no longer receive the devil’s assignment of shame or abandonment over my life—because as many of you who have endured severe losses or prolonged illness know – few people have the love, compassion and stamina to stick by you when your suffering goes on and on—for months, or years. When you lose a spouse or loved one, or become chronically ill, you often lose other relationships, too—and it’s not always your fault. It’s just the way it is sometimes.
But I am allowing myself to experience my neediness as good, -because God made us to need the love and support of others- at the same time that I am refusing to over-depend on or over-burden others with my struggles, instead of going to God first with my pain. Because I believe that God wants us to take our challenges, burdens and pain to Him, first and foremost—because only He can give us true peace and love us unconditionally, and when we receive His peace and comfort, we won’t depend on others in an unhealthy way. But He also gave us human relationships, too, to meet our emotional needs—and that is okay, and good.
God also has been reminding me that many of us who have endured intense trials and prolonged suffering, for years– often suffer not because we’re doing something wrong, but because we are doing something RIGHT. Because the enemy of our souls, the devil, hates us; he hates all those who do good, and who labor to bring God’s Kingdom and the love and light of Jesus Christ into this decaying and dying world. And he will oppose us with trials and afflictions that crush us deeply.
Remember, the devil just may hate you, because you have much to offer the world; because the love and the light of God burn brightly within your heart, and you ache for the suffering of others, and want to do something about it. Because you have learned compassion through your suffering and he knows that your journey may one day culminate in a major victory over evil that will in turn set many other captives free.
Yet just because we are doing God’s work and suffering for it (and even if we aren’t), doesn’t mean that we don’t still need an abundance of support, love, encouragement and prayer from others. Even daily, because the Word of God says to “encourage one another DAILY.” (Hebrews 3:13).
Again though, if you are like me, at times you have felt the pangs of shame or unworthiness when you have reached out for help for what you believe is too many times; when your friends or family have tired of your struggles, or shunned or criticized you for your tears, fears, depression and grief. Maybe you have thought that something is wrong with you, and that if you just had “more faith” you’d be happier, healthier, more productive or more positive. And you’d have more friends.
But sometimes, when your brain is on fire, or you’ve just lost a spouse, parent or child -or the grief of other trials weighs heavily upon you -you just can’t see the silver lining in the clouds, no matter how much you press into God. But only souls who have been through great trials understand this, and know that the “try harder” messages from others can be counterproductive when you are fighting for your hope or even your very life.
Living in close relationship with God, and aiming to live and walk by His Spirit and maintain daily His perspective—which is always more positive, hopeful, encouraging and life-giving than ours—is paramount for our recovery and wellbeing. Yet being able to cry, release pent up grief, rage and sadness, and share our sorrows, fears and concerns with others who will hold us in our pain, encourage us in our suffering, and listen with sympathy to our struggles—is also integral to healing.
And so, even as I have found myself living in relative isolation since my husband Bill’s transition into Heaven, and I am often in a war against loneliness, I am deeply grateful for those friends whom God has put in my path, who have offered me a hand, their heart, their ears or a shoulder over the past few years. Not all of them have stayed; some have strayed when my hurt became overwhelming for them, or life and their own burdens called them away; but I am grateful for what they could offer me, whether their sojourn through my life was short or long.
In any case – I pray that my story would be a comfort to those of you who have needed the support and love of others- but felt ashamed for your “neediness” or abandoned when your loved ones judged, criticized or otherwise left you alone in your suffering – because they just could not support you as you would have liked. Thank them for the good things that they could offer you, and then bless them and wish them well, knowing that God will continue to bring new friends or family across your path if you ask and trust Him to do so. I am laboring to stay in that path of faith, too.
In the meantime, don’t let the devil convince you that there’s something wrong with you, because you need a friend to cry with, or because you need someone to tell you that you will be OK, and that this too, will pass. Refuse the lie that only the strong can do without human companionship, and that you must be weak or somehow defective if you need daily support, or because your life doesn’t outwardly seem to look as good as that of your neighbor, who has exuberant health, happy kids and a nice house.
Even more importantly, don’t let shame, anger, fear, abandonment or rejection shackle you when people fail to love you with the love of God during your darkest hour. Because even Jesus’ disciples and best friends, who had tasted and experienced the fullness of the love of God- fled when he was about to be crucified for the sins of humanity.
Finally, know that God doesn’t judge victory and success in the same way that we do. And He just may have a bigger crown, throne and mantle in Heaven for those of us who have lived in the throes of prolonged illness, loss, depression, poverty and the like, and yet still tried to serve and love Him and others with the love of Jesus Christ – amidst our own agony and trials.
In your suffering, I also encourage you to seek Him as your first Love; for comfort, encouragement, and wisdom, as He wishes to be all of these things for us –as you also believe Him to put faithful friends in your path at the right time. Yet when He does, remember that all humans are limited and flawed in their capacity to love – and they may fail you, as others have. Just do your best to thank them for the love or kindness that they are, or were, able to show you, and accept them for who they are. And in those moments, resist the temptation to cave into lies about your self-worth, knowing that God is proud of you, He loves you, and will never leave you nor forsake you…