One of the blessings of friendship is that we can carry one another; and this is a gift, rather than a burden. But there’s a difference between being a friend and being a carer. At times we will need to receive more than we give. That’s a part of life and we’ve all been there. But what if neediness is a position we never leave? Or if we find our identity in helping, but refuse to receive help?
In these cases we may need to think about who we lean upon and how much. There’s only one Saviour and it’s not you – or your lovely friend. So let’s think about the difference:
It’s ok to recognise the things you find difficult. It’s not okay to blame others for your behaviour.
‘If you don’t do X, I’ll self-harm/drink/make myself sick/kill myself… and it’ll all be your fault’
It’s okay to ask for support you in specific ways. It’s not okay to demand that other people take responsibility for your actions.
‘You’re the only one who understands. If you don’t help me, no-one else will’
It’s okay to be honest and ask for advice. It’s not okay to use other people as a dumping ground and ignore what they say.
It’s okay to call your friend in a crisis – even if it’s 3am. It’s not okay if that crisis is every day.
It’s okay to rely on your friends for help. It’s not okay if that’s the only reason you ever call.
It’s okay to ask for help to change. It’s not okay to expect others to make those changes for you.
– ask your loved ones if you’re too needy. If they say yes, talk about why and how you can manage this.
– don’t beat yourself up: it takes time to build friendships and we all get them wrong. At times we are all demanding, clingy and over-dependent.
– don’t always talk about your problems. Show interest in your friends: ask how they’re doing and listen.
– it’s normal to have periods where one person is busy and the other one has to make more of an effort. However, if it’s always one way, talk about how you can have more balance.
– take advice. Say ‘thank-you’ and explain how much it means to have them help.
– make sure you’re not relying on just one person. And don’t make that person into a rescuer or put them on a pedestal: remember, they’re fallible, just like you.
– think about talking to church leaders or counsellors.
– respect boundaries. If a friend says they don’t like when you show up unannounced, or goes to bed when you usually phone, don’t do it.
– pray about your worries before taking them straight to others. Jesus loves to hear from us and promises to meet our needs. We can ask Him to help us in this area.
– don’t be scared of having needs: but don’t let them tell you who you are. Think about what makes you frightened and talk to others about how you can challenge these fears. But maybe not at 3am…