There’s this thing I’ve been wrestling with, and today while sitting on my couch trying to figure out if the stain beside me was applesauce or smushed banana, I received a breakthrough. And a bit of a kick in the teeth. It came from Brene Brown’s words in Rising Strong, “Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give and we need to need.”
A few months ago in a particularly vulnerable text exchange with two of my home team, I told them that one of the things I’ve been struggling with is needing people to support us financially and to pray us through this next chapter. I have such a problem saying I need help. It’s a recurring conversation in my marriage and my friendships and in my parenting. Brutal honesty here–I want to be the hero, the know-it-all, the one with all the answers, but I’m not. Not even close. And it’s really hard for me to admit that.
Despite my own experience with the joy of getting to champion and support others on this same journey, I struggle letting others help us. The truth is I don’t like my own neediness. Whenever I’m confronted with my neediness, I’m tempted to believe the lie that I’m not enough. To admit I need help is to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is scary.
The biggest lesson I’m learning in marriage and friendship and parenting is vulnerability invites vulnerability. A few weeks ago we were around the table with couples who are engaged or soon to be engaged. It was our last formal time together, and I wanted to give them some golden key, some truth that would ensure a great marriage. But all I could give them was a little phrase, “Vulnerability invites vulnerability.”
When we are vulnerable with someone, it invites that other person to be vulnerable with us. This is where hard conversations in marriage and parenting and friendship become our greatest opportunities for connection. Nearly four years ago, we sat in our friends’ home and told our small group we had started the adoption process. And then I watched as those people who are now as close as family asked us what we needed (and often met needs we didn’t even know we had). They hosted a garage sale and went all over town risking hernias and picking up furniture people had donated. They sold t-shirts and worked their sales magic on customers. They bought pizza when we were all starving and kept everyone caffeinated. They prayed without ceasing when it looked like Ethiopia might shut down adoptions. They gave so much, and they are still giving. They have taught me much about what it means to give and to receive.
I’m starting to wonder if maybe one of the things God wants to teach me on this journey is that it’s okay to need people. A few weeks ago, I finally made it to the New Testament in my chronological Bible, and Jesus talks about it a lot. Faith like a child. Children are needy. How He came not for the healthy but the sick. Sick people are needy. How He loved the poor. Poor people are needy. Maybe a lot of my struggle with admitting my need is that I don’t want to acknowledge how broken I am. And I certainly don’t want to let anyone else see it. But that darkness and shame isn’t from God. It’s from the liar. And the light-piercing truth of the gospel shatters that darkness. In all our neediness, He came to us. And what floors me is that He chose to come in all the vulnerability of a baby, and any mom can tell you how needy babies are. Maybe He wanted to show us that it’s okay to be needy. Maybe that was His design for community.
In eleven days, our family and our team of runners will run a race to raise money for our adoption. For weeks now, God has been blessing us through the stories our runners are sharing with us. Stories of the people sponsoring them. Stories of people who don’t even know us but want to help. Stories of sacrificial giving. My gratitude is enormous, but I still felt a struggle deep in my soul. And I’m realizing it was because I don’t like being needy. But I am. I am as needy as they come. And in my processing, I thought about our child and how needy he will be. My greatest joy will come from finally being able to meet those needs–to give that hug, to bandage that knee, to feed that belly, to tuck in that sweet body. There is joy both in the giving and the receiving. For me to be healthy and growing, I need to embrace both.
I haven’t written about the race on the blog yet because of all the stuff I wrote above. Thankfully, we have a home team that goes above and beyond to love us well. So, here’s the scoop on the race. Every fall the church I grew up in and the one where I met Matt hosts a race to raise funds for families adopting. We are one of the families they asked to be a part of the race this year. The race will take place next Saturday, October 31st in Jackson, MS. If you would like to sponsor us in our race, you can give any amount using this link. This link is attached to our family’s account at Lifesong for Orphans. Your gift is tax-deductible, and Lifesong ensures that every penny goes directly to adoption expenses. And even more, we would treasure your prayers. January marks four years since we began filling out paperwork. We are hopeful that our referral will come in the next ten months. But my biggest prayer is that God will be working in the life of our child, his caregivers, and our birth parents. Please pray for protection against disease, malnutrition and abuse. Please pray for us as we continue to learn parenting techniques to help aid healthy attachment.
Have I mentioned how vulnerable it feels to say I need help? Incredibly vulnerable. But I’m hopeful that my saying hard things will help you say hard things too. And to our home team, thank you for being a safe place for us to be vulnerable. Thank you for carrying us when we were too weak to run on our own. Thank you for loving us so well.
“Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give and we need to need.” ~Brene Brown