By Elisa Morgan
Gathered in a living room with a group of neighbors, I listened to the presenter’s spiel about various cooking utensils, spices and gadgets. As I thumbed through the purchasing catalogue while feeling pressured to buy something at this home party, I wondered, did I really need anything?
The friend at my elbow bubbled over about a certain combo of spice flavors that could be used for more than ten recipes. Okay. Another woman held up a strange long-handled tool made of hard black plastic. One end was blunt, the other pinwheel shaped. She proclaimed it a “must have” for every cook. Really? How had I made dinners for so many years without it?
I bought it. When it arrived, I stuck it in my utensil drawer and forgot about it. A few months later I ran into my neighbor at the store, and she asked if I’d fallen in love with my gadget yet. Nope. I’d forgotten about it.
When I next needed to brown some hamburger, I pulled out the device and put it to work. Voila! I was stunned at the ease it offered. The small chore it made of the work. The even distribution of the meat. I discovered, “So that’s how it’s done!” Now, over twenty years later, it’s my go-to utensil in the kitchen.
I didn’t know I’d love it until I discovered I needed it. It was my need that opened the door to my love for the silly thing.
What other, much more significant provision have I missed in life? Because I never recognized my need for it?
This is Holy Week. The week where we focus on the exorbitant expense of God’s amazing love in sacrificing the life of his Son on the cross for us. Some of us are observing lent, sacrificing something special to connect with God’s suffering. Some of us are walking through the days of the week, moving our hearts from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Silent Saturday before arriving at Resurrection Sunday. Some plan to attend a Tenebrae service of silence and darkness, immersing ourselves in the dark separation from God, the Father, that Jesus endured on the cross. All are good practices that help us focus on God’s stunning expression of love in the gift of his Son.
But what is love without need? Can we really receive love without an experience of needing love? Can we truly give love without embracing our own need for it?
Without need, love sits politely on the doorsteps of our lives, locked in place. Without need, love hovers over healing, never landing in recovery. The help I don’t know I need remains forgotten in the utensil drawer while I go about cooking the only way I know how.
When we acknowledge our need - the emptiness of our souls, the meaninglessness of our moments, the despairing hollow in our hearts - and lift the latch to open our being, love rushes in to occupy. Like water seeking out the crevice. Like fire gobbling up kindling. Like air filling our lungs.
When we embrace need, we welcome the love that has always been there as well as the love that wants to be there. A plea for help. An apology. A request for information. An admittance of imperfection. Needing is knowing I can be wrong. Needing is an invitation to the insight and offering of another. Needing is an absence of denial, a yielding to education, a brokenness that moves on to forgiveness and even freedom.
This Holy week, as we focus on God’s love, let’s begin by recognizing the holy need within our beings. For help. For hope. For grace. For forgiveness. And yes, for love.
Elisa Morgan is the author of You Are Not Alone. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include Christmas Changes Everything, When We Pray Like Jesus, The Beauty of Broken, and Hello, Beauty Full. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.