Word of the Week

Within my first couple weeks of seminary at Duke Divinity School back in 2003, I attended a weekend retreat.

It was designed for women a part of the free church tradition (i.e. Baptists, Free Methodists, AME, Pentecostals, etc).  And, coming from the Baptist tradition myself, it was a perfect match to fulfill the required spiritual formational credit for graduation.

I loved how the retreat connected me to the theological and racial diversity of the school and brought me new friends. But there was one weird part.

The closing song.

i-need-you-so-muchMy classmates and I were asked to partner up, look into one another's eyes and sing "I Need You To Survive" to a gospel anthem by Hezekiah Walker with full gusto! I have to tell you, I'm all about the feelings but such an exercise was too much for even me. These were some of the words:

I need you, you need me.
We're all a part of God's body.
Stand with me, agree with me.
We're all a part of God's body.
It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You can you can listen to the full song by clicking here

Ironically, Abby who became my best friend at Duke (and still a great friend and colleague today) was my partner. If anybody was grading us, we would have gotten an F for our participation because couldn't stop laughing! But obviously something about the experience must have stuck because here I am 11 years later writing about it.

For when I think about how God made us to relate to one another in community, it's really so true.

I need you. And you need me. 

Yet, most of us live on the sidelines, contact people just when we need a favor, or wait till a birthday or a Christmas card to say hello. But when we do potentially amazing relationships fall just in the "OK" category because we aren't willing to say:

I need you. You need me. 

There's a lot of intentionally and vulnerability involved in this process and of course rejection sucks if the other person is not all in.

But what I most want to tell you today is don't let fear of rejection keep you from showing up.

I don't know about you, but I want to live a life full of joy. I want to live a life that isn't pained with unnecessary loneliness or without the encouragement I need to stay the course.

There are so many people in my life I would love to tell right now (if you were sitting beside me as I write): I need you. You need you. I love you. I need you to survive. I'm all the better because you are in my life. I am under no pretenses that I can be all I am called to be without your help!

But what does this look like in practice?

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a Christmas party.

It was an invitation like many we all receive this time of year. It came at the last-minute from a person I would consider a friend, but not one of my best of best friends. I waffled on whether or not to go. The traffic to get to her house would be annoying. I'd had a long week already. Why stress myself out if I didn't need to?

So when I tried to gracefully bow out, my friend said in a roundabout way, "I need you. You need me. And it would mean the world to me if you came."

Well, then. 

So, I went. Because she was right. I need this friend in my life and she needs me. And showing up for people who are in our community is no small thing. It's worth 30 minute searches for parking spaces.

This kind of living is NOT about having upper hand of "being needed" all the time or someone owing us a favor constantly. But it includes looking loved ones in the eyes and saying: "I need you" (which is MUCH harder). And letting them help us.

So these days I'm thinking that retreat leader was really on to something.  She was giving us life wisdom: "I need you. You need me."

Though it might feel weird or make us feel more vulnerable than we would like, here's the truth:

I need you. And you need me.