To be human is to have needs and the place where they’re nourished and restored is in relationships. However, if we’ve been hurt or disappointed, we may shut down and try the route of independence, saying, “I don’t need you.” Life and growth are always a risk and always involve an opening of ourselves to parts we might not yet be familiar with. But if we choose not to take this path, we will deaden and stagnate, our inner reality will shrink. Like the elephant tied with a tiny stake we may think we’re free, but actually we’re going for security of the known.
If we’re not thinking differently, we’re fooling ourselves that we have changed. We tell ourselves the same things as before and get the same results as we always have. It’s like we’re holding our life compass and keep interfering with its swing. We keep swiveling the arrow to point in the direction we know and want to keep going in.
We need to stop deceiving ourselves and to take a good, hard look at each of our many needs – for love, affirmation, exercise, food, meaning, entertainment, etc. What steps will we put in place to develop and deepen these? We need to ask, ‘Is this really, really what I want?’ The fact is we’ve allowed our dysfunctional needs to pull us in many directions and, like Gulliver, are tied down by our countless threads. Each one we have put in place, each holds us back and fools no one but ourselves.
The invitation to reality and growth is always there. We develop so much as we grow more sensitive to others’ needs too and really hear what they’re saying both with their words and their body language. We may need to risk choosing what we’ve feared to choose. So, for example, we will be stretched by doing some habitual action in a new way, by experimenting with new tastes and foods, by choosing to be with someone we may have avoided before because they challenge us and don’t play our game. As we push our inner boundaries, we’ll be taken deeper and fuller into life. Sometimes despite our resistance, God intervenes through the hard things of life which forces us to look at things differently.
Our needs as humans are all different and each has an individual character of its own. Like the gears on a car, each has an appropriate range and the right moment to ‘change’. If we want something very much but don’t want to change, we compromise and ‘slip the clutch’, mismanaging our legitimate need in an inappropriate way.
We are creatures of great need and it’s a fallacy to think we can live as if we don’t have them. Every breath we take acknowledges this. The Israelites wandering in the desert had to come daily to God for their need for food. Our needs are what connect us to others. It is through these risking relationships which our lives are enriched and fulfilled.