It’s 6:45 a.m. and I am sitting in the terminal. Problem is, my flight departed at 5:30. My destination is the snow-capped mountains of Fraser, Colorado where I will be spending the next 4 days at a Ransomed Heart boot camp. My prayer to this point has been that I would be open to what God has for me, and up to now I have been pretty unsure as to what I am in need of.
Which brings me back to the hard plastic chair I am uncomfortably sitting in at Jackson’s tiny terminal.
I am starting to wonder if what I need is to learn that it is okay to have needs.
Need or Needy
As I ran to my gate I knew I had already missed my flight. I arrived at the airport at 4:45 to catch my 5:30 departure, and in case you have never flown out of Jackson’s terminal, imagine a small airport and then divide that by half. My gate was one of ten, and my gate was only 50 yards from the single TSA checkpoint, which begs the question of how could I miss my flight. Needless to say, after waiting in the security line for over 30 minutes, I arrived at my gate at 5:23 to find my flight at the end of a closed door behind an empty help desk.
I was confronted with a choice – do I choose to have needs or be needy.
The difference, as I see it, between the two is both simple and profound.
All adults have needs. A healthy adult recognizes those needs and takes responsibility for having them met. In my case, taking responsibility meant asking for help. I waited patiently for the ticket agent to return and humbly stated my dilemma, that I had missed my flight and I need help finding another connection – in hopes that I could make it to Denver by 1:15 to catch my shuttle for the 2 hour ride from the airport to the YoungLife camp we were staying at. I did not blame others (TSA, my dog, traffic, the lady who couldn’t figure out how to put her shoes on the screening table, etc.). I did, however, take responsibility for my need.
Needy adults also have needs. The main difference between a needy adult and a responsibile adult who has needs is that the needy adult does not take responsibility for their needs. They tend to blame and expect someone else to fix their problems, and they refuse to humbly ask for help. This choice appealed to me. I could have blamed others in order to escape the uncomfortable humiliation of missing my flight in such a small airport. To be needy feels easier and more comfortable, and who doesn’t like that?
Unfortunately, my story doesn’t end with the change of flights, nor does the end of my being in need. The only outgoing flight which could connect me to Denver had me arriving at 2:06, which was nearly an hour after the time I was to board the shuttle at 1:15. Same dilemma of being in need – different problem.
Do I call the shuttle company (4 buses carrying 250 men) and demand they wait on me because my flight got screwed up by such and such or so and so?
Do I call someone, admit by mistake and state my need for help?
Honestly, this was not as easy a choice for a guy as you might think. To admit that I failed in my responsibility is humiliating – gnawing at the old rule that says a ‘real man’ doesn’t make mistakes or ask for help.
Recognizing our Needs
As adults, it is of utmost importance that we recognize our needs and responsibly seek to have those needs met, because the alternative finds our responsibility falling on those who are not capable of meeting them; like our kids, friends, parents, churches, government, etc., or finds us trying to get our needs met through unhealthy means.
This translates to an infinite number of scenarios, some of the more common being:
- As men when we need relationships with others, we don’t irresponsibly try to meet that need through pornography, self-centered sex, or flirting with the married woman at work, but instead we let trustworthy people know of our loneliness and we seek to spend quality time with them.
- In relationships we don’t blame others for ‘making’ us feel negative emotions, but instead we take responsibility for our hurt/pain and seek healthy means of healing. Rather than waiting on the one who hurt us to come and ‘fix it’, we seek our own healing through prayer, meditation, speaking up for ourseves, reaching out to others, counseling, journaling, etc.
- As parents we do not apologize to our children with “I’m sorry, but you….”, but instead we admit to our children what we have done, how it was inappropriate, and we seek to not do it again in the future – regardless of their behavior.
- In work we let others know what we need to be successful, and we learn to say ‘no’ – rather than saying ‘yes’ to the point of exhaustion or explosion. We also speak to our bosses about our needs instead of grumbling and mumbling about it to colleagues.
- In churches, organizations, social clubs and the like, we intentionally seek to humbly confront those who have offended us, rather than brewing resent while waiting on their apology.
- As adult children we accept the good and bad of our parents and upbringings, rather than obsessing over where we were let down, parented poorly, or not given appropriate life skills. We recognize the healthy with gratitude, and seek out to develop and mature in the unhealthy.
The long and short of it is that we all have needs, and that’s okay. In order for us to be emotionally healthy adults, it is necessary for us to take responsibilty for finding ways for our needs to be met in appropriate and healthy ways, which includes asking for help.
As to my flight, I found out that someone from central Mississippi was driving out to the same event, and I called him to ask if he could pick me up in Denver. Even though this would put him about 4-5 hours out of the way, he happily agreed. I then called some camp leaders to let them know of my being late and they told me the shuttle would not be leaving until 2:15, which gave me 9 minutes to make it from Denver’s Gate A to the Main Terminal. My new friend said he would be my back-up if I missed the shuttle. My flight arrived in Denver about 10 minutes early – which to my knowledge has never happened in the history of air travel. I asked for direction from a local Denver man and I arrived at the shuttle at 2:14 out of breath and with an answer to my prayer – what I needed was to recognize that it is good to ask for help in meeting my needs.
-by Branden Henry