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I've Been Meaning to Ask...What do you need?

What do you need? Such a loaded question whether you are being asked or doing the asking. I cannot count the number of times I was asked this question over the last 10 months. In my house, my family heard: Will you turn the light off? Will you make a scrambled egg? More water, please. Change the sheets, please. Take me to the appointment. Drop me at the door. Help me walk to the bathroom. Sit with me in the hospital. Take me to the ER. Listen to the surgeon’s report all by your 20 year old self. Don’t come over…Covid. Please Facetime. Check on your dad. Pick up grandma’s prescription. Pick up my prescription! Go to the grocery store. Pick up dinner. Do the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning here and at your own apartment. Let me sleep. Shut the door.

More things I needed for which I was given time, space, encouragement, and reassurance:

To be still. To be quiet. To rest.

To let go. To let you do it.

To tell you I’m scared. To be held.

To be healed. To fight.

To say it. To tell it. To ask it.

To listen. To process and figure out.

To take one step, no more.

To let the drugs work.

Time. Time. Time.


Laughter, always, laughter.

To cry. To feel angry…and all the feelings.

To work, just a bit.

When you are asked, “What do you need?” you may be able to answer easily. If not, here are some things to consider. You really may not know what you need yet. Try to take the time to listen to your body and soul as your situation develops. Your needs may change as time passes. Respond that you don’t know, but please ask again. Some of us are quick to respond that we don’t need anything. Many of us want to take care of ourselves. Consider allowing someone to help in a tangible way even when you think it is something you can handle. It is a gift that allows you to spend precious time and energy in other ways. It can also mean one less thing to do for the one who is attending to your daily needs.

Don’t forget your emotional and spiritual needs. Ask for prayer for a specific concern (upcoming appointment, test, conversation, etc.). Ask for a time to call to talk about what is happening and hard decisions—for insights or in put or just to have someone to say it all out loud to. Or for someone to talk to you about anything EXCEPT what you are dealing with!

And don’t be surprised, if someone meets a need you didn’t know you had until they meet it. The epiphany of “that was just what I needed exactly when I needed it” brings a different kind of gratitude.

Those thoughts may be helpful when you are asking “What do you need?” as well. I think we also need to give ourselves permission to be honest about what we can and cannot do. No one really wants me to bring them a meal…I’m just not a good cook! But I can bring over some fresh fruit, a gallon of milk or a roasted chicken from the grocery store! I usually leave the “meal train” sign up for those gifted in the kitchen.

I think the message of the material for this week is that the question “What do you need?” is not about the one asking, but the one answering. When asking, you need to set yourself, your ego, your need to help, aside. You need to be discerning what the one answering is saying, or not able to say. You need to discern when to listen and when to act.

When someone asks you, “What do you need?”, I pray you have the courage and wisdom to respond with honesty. Humbly receive. Humbly give.


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