I Am A Needy Man

“I am a needy man.” I’ve fought against that truth most of my adult life.

Little boys (and girls) realize that they are needy. When I was a little boy, the expression of my neediness was raw and unfiltered. Back then, the style of expressing neediness was crying or yelling.

Then I learned how unacceptable that was – so performing and complying became my new strategy for meeting my deepest needs. Very often, those needs were not met.

In A Little Book On The Human Shadow author Robert Bly states: “When we were one or two years old we had what we might visualize as a 360-degree personality. Energy radiated out from all parts of our body and all parts of our psyche. A child running is a living globe of energy.We had a ball of energy, all right; but one day we noticed that our parents didn’t like certain parts of that ball.”

Bly states that we stuff that energy into an invisible bag that we drag behind us. That’s where the shadow goes. Unfortunately, the shadow comes roaring back like a monster. I start believing things about myself that aren’t true.

My solution (and what I see in the world) is to puff myself up, to make myself look strong and intimidating, which is what primitive tribes do. As mentioned in the T-Bone Burnett’s song, Primitives (from the excellent album The Criminal Under My Own Hat):

Primitives dress in feathers and masks
To scare away their enemies
The frightening thing is not dying
The frightening thing is not living

Remember the movie Karate Kid? Other men may believe and practice what Kreese, the Sensei of the Cobra Kai Dojo tells his students:  “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”

Primitive or No Mercy. Whatever way we choose – it is frightening.

However, there is another way: Becoming a needy man.

Healthy neediness is coupled with healthy vulnerability.

Vulnerability is defined as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Wow.  No wonder I don’t want to be vulnerable – who wants the possibility of being attacked or harmed in any way?  Especially when, in my life, that HAS happened.  I’m willing to bet it has happened in your life. too.

Our only solution to regain that neediness/vulnerability is desperate surrender.

In the Bible, many people who encountered Jesus were desperate for healing of themselves or loved ones. They exhibited a desperate surrender that showcased their neediness.  Like the needy father who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus in Mark 9:15-30.

The boy’s father told Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.  “Anything is possible if a person believes. “

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help my overcome my unbelief!”

This father realized that even his belief in what Jesus could do was messed up.  He surrenders his neediness vulnerably to Jesus because he was desperate to see healing.

Author Marion Woodman writes, “At the very point of vulnerability is where the surrender takes place — that is where God enters. God comes through the wound.” Scripture is filled with this “secret.”

  • In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul states “When I am weak, then He is strong.”
  • Peter echoes Isaiah by recognizing “By His wounds, you are healed’ in 1 Peter 2:24.
  • Jesus models neediness of his Father and shows vulnerability, even as he dies on the cross.

God comes through the wound. It’s where we learn what love really is. It’s where we get healing.

Shutting out being needy and vulnerable shuts us out of love.

 “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

  • We need to be vulnerable to love others, but also we learn to love ourselves – and that needy little boy.
  • I need you men in this safe community to allow me to share my neediness.
  • I need to tell you, “I am a needy man.” 
  • Please tell me the same.

By Tim White

Tim completed his initial weekend in 2013. He has staffed many weekends and leads L.I.F.E. Recovery for men at Willow Creek Crystal Lake. With an M.Div from Bethel Seminary, he’s a former senior pastor and now pastoral coach. Tim fulfills his mission by guiding men to greater connection through vulnerable transparency. TimWhiteCoaching.com  

Photo Credit: Provided by Tim White