Help me to see my real needs, which are concealed from me.
When my son Jared was a baby, he went to sleep easily and happily. The only exception was when he was extremely tired. Past a certain point, tiredness shifted to fussiness and restlessness. What he most needed – rest – became the last thing he wanted. His nighttime routine of bath, snack, and book brought frustration rather than peace. He wanted something else, but couldn’t say what that something else might be.
On those nights, I’d take him outside for a walk around the barn. He’d say goodnight to the horses and look in on the roosting chickens. We’d walk down the gravel drive to see what the road looked like at night and we’d look at the lights of the house across the way. Sometimes, he’d pick up the tiny striped acorns of the pin oaks that lined the drive. Then I’d pick him up and take him home, fast asleep before I put him in his crib. After a good night’s sleep, Jared was himself again. Happy.
If I go past a certain point, my spiritual, physical, and emotional tiredness bring frustration and discontent. I refuse things and activities that restore me, and I can’t see anything new that might help. So I go in one direction and then another, trying to grasp the needs that hold me captive. But I can’t see them and I can’t think of where else to look. I just want to give up and cry. That’s when God holds my hand and takes me for a walk. I see my world by starlight and see others resting peacefully. Stones crunch beneath my feet and a neighbor’s lights illuminate where I stand. The seeds of mighty trees surround me, and the mystery of the world welcomes me. Most of the time, I’m at rest before I make it back home, trusting the Spirit to carry me. When I wake up, the world is new and so am I.
I’d better be careful what I pray for: If God shows me what I really need, I’ll know what is necessary and what isn’t. I won’t exhaust myself chasing things that cannot sustain life. A focus on real needs rather than popular wants won’t bring social status or vast wealth. But does bring light in darkness, companionship along the way, a vision of new life in a nutshell, and the world made new every day.
Whence cometh my help? From God alone who knows my needs.