LETTERS TO MY SON: the needy woman
Strength and dignity
are her clothing,
and she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
So far I’ve talked to you about three kinds of women to avoid: the Manipulator, the Shamer, and the Drama Queen. Every woman I know has these tendencies, including me. These are ways women turn to in order to cope with past hurts or present helplessness.
But we don’t have to become entrenched in manipulation. We don’t have to give in to drama. We can stop it in its tracks if we fully entrust our lives to Jesus. We can humble ourselves, confess our sinful leanings and become beautiful.
But there is one more kind of woman I want to warn you about. I’ll call her the Needy Woman. And I’m not saying no man should ever marry this kind of woman. I’m warning you specifically because of your vision and calling to spiritual leadership in the church. The Needy Woman will engulf an enormous amount of a man’s time and attention in order to bring her to a place of spiritual and emotional dependence on God.
In many ways I was this kind of woman when your dad married me. I was barely 19 years old, mature and responsible on the surface, but dependent and needy whenever my carefully constructed corner of the world hit any sort of turbulence.
Your dad patiently led me into a deeper walk with God, never shaming me for my fearfulness or social inadequacies. But he also did not let my neediness hold him back from fulfilling the ministry he was called to.
To be honest, dear son of mine, I did hold him back. I cried when our monthly calendar planning outlined too many nights alone. I complained about his distraction, got my feelings hurt far too easily. I tried too hard to control a man who was born to lead, not to follow my ideas of a hunky-dory life.
In God’s unexplainable kindness, He matured me by constantly stretching me beyond myself. I wanted to be independent but I had no idea how to depend on God for my strength. Then when disaster struck and I was diagnosed with progressive hearing lost and told I’d be deaf before long, I fell completely apart. And you know my story because you’ve heard it a hundred times.
God used that diagnosis to bring me into complete dependence on Himself.
To need Him alone.
No one else could come close to bringing me the relief I needed from the fear and dread I felt at the prospect of going deaf.
That’s why I want you to avoid taking on the responsibility of a needy woman. To stop yourself from assuming that in your great strength you can help a woman whose helplessness may seem so appealing at first.
And though our marriage is strong and my respect for your dad is immense, it could have gone a different direction. Your dad, great spiritual leader that he is, could not have made me strong. He pointed me in the right direction, but I had to go there all by myself. And frankly, the only reason I followed that path to utter dependence on God is because in my failure I saw a terrifying glimpse of who I would become if something didn’t change immediately.
So, from personal experience, let me leave you my list of signs of…
THE NEEDY WOMAN:
- The needy woman is reluctant to go any where without you by her side.
- The needy woman always needs more time with you.
- The needy woman has no long-term goals of her own to drive her days.
- The needy woman gets her feelings hurt frequently.
- The needy woman will pull you away from friends and family and want you all to herself.
- The needy woman is easily intimidated by strong women.
- The needy woman is often critical of people who are different than her.
- The needy woman often appeals to a strong man’s strength, but will suck him dry.
- The needy woman resists suggestions to broaden her world, preferring to avoid adventure and remain in the confines of her safe structure.
- The needy woman requires vast amounts of reassurance, never having enough encouragement to fill her empty reservoir.
Please note, dear son. A needy woman is not bad. She is usually sweet and gentle and full of grace. But your calling will require a wife who is willing to let you go, just like I had to learn to let your dad go. Just like Tammy has to let your brother go. Just like most women of hard driving men have to allow their men space to follow their vision fully.
I love you, Matt, and am praying that you lean on God’s wisdom as you live your life. May He bring you a good and godly wife in His perfect timing.
From my heart,