Thoughts on Needing Love & Fighting through Depression

For a second time it has hit me that love makes one feel beautiful. I wrote about realizing this for the first time in Hopelessness Turned to Hope shortly after my trip to Peru last summer. At that time it was more of an intellectual realization but now it’s a heart realization. I feel what I first saw to be true because some days lately I haven’t felt very beautiful. Of course, I should always feel beautiful because I am a daughter of the King but honestly, sometimes I don’t. It’s at those times I am not as loving as I could and should be.

To be and feel beautiful there’s a circular pattern. People with beautiful spirits are likeable, so in turn, to be loved by people around us our first step is to love them; I don’t think this should be the point to our love but it is a reward. It’s when others love us we feel beautiful but it’s when we love others we truly are beautiful. What I so often have to fight for is to keep my spirit beautiful when I’m depressed.

I have days when I would like to creep under a rug and disappear. All the wrong and stupid things I’ve done and said just run through my head and drive me crazy with regret. Homeward Bound is my song in those moments (or days). Every day I feel depressed I think of the words “all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity, like emptiness in harmony. I need someone to comfort me”.

Is it wrong to feel like I need people, their love and comfort? I used to think it was. I thought I should be content alone because I didn’t have a need.

I have often thought I’m being purely selfish when I think I need people or like my focus is completely wrong when I enjoy and gain so much from a friendship but the truth is, I don’t have a heart completely like God’s. While I am made in his image, my heart is not the same. There are two kinds of love: Need-love and Gift-love. When it comes to the way God and I love it is through divine opposition that I am able to draw near to him in a complimentary way. He is complete, lacking in nothing, and completely able to give everything without needing anything in return; I am empty and nothing without Christ and need to be filled and made. I love God because he first loved me. He said “It is not good for man to be alone” so while I don’t have to be married, I do need others around me. C. S. Lewis says “We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves” and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

I don’t mean to imply we cannot, as humans, give. Gift-love is the very mark of authentic Christian life because in it we are like God, we can love in some measure the way God loves us—patiently, selflessly, and forgivingly. 1st John 4:9-11 says “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” When we do love like this we become more like God but not nearer to him in the sense I wrote about above. But from what I understand, giving is often a kind of Need-love as well (so is not always like God’s love). This happens when we give and share what we have with others because without giving we end up feeling worse—so in this way it turns into a Need-love.

Using Need-love disguised as Gift-love is dangerous. It sucks the life out of those I want to love simply because I want their love in return. I have taken so much while calling it “a gift.” Love had become my god, and in that it became a demon. C. S. Lewis also wrote “The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards is own abdication . . . the hour when we can say ‘They need me no longer’ should be our reward.”

I have had this humongous wrong idea almost all my life that I don’t need anyone. I’ve thought I didn’t need God, I didn’t need help, and now I realize I thought I didn’t even need friendships even though I greatly enjoy them. How foolish I have been! I am helpless and I am given each and every breath that I breathe. I need.

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4 responses to “Thoughts on Needing Love & Fighting through Depression

  1. Powerful post, Laurel Anne. I love what you wrote about God not needing anything in return, and I think that’s why His love can be such a quandary to those trying to receive love by doing for others. We can find our intimacy with God to be lacking when He’s not “in need” of our services, as if He can only love us when we’re a bigger part of the picture.

    This is why Paul’s words about love were so counter-cultual: God would have us give good gifts and love selflessly because we can and are moved to love rather than to feel needed. I’ve also struggled with relationships where “selfless giving” has brought loved ones to a place where they don’t need me anymore. I once compared my youth ministry experience as a series of empty nest relationships. I found myself getting depressed by this, but my intent should be that my kids don’t need me anymore, not unlike parents with their children. The most loving thing we can do in friendship is help others walk in freedom, with their own two feet.

    I see the error in my thinking now. I was worried about spending time with those God once allowed me to invest in, thinking that they couldn’t love or want me if they no longer needed me. This distorts God’s intent for a lifelong companion (it explains A LOT about my past relationships) and sadly reflects my attitude with God as times. I acknowledge that I need others myself, but get caught investing all of my time in those that I know need me, never receiving the kind of love I truly crave. I should chew on this for a bit. Thanks, friend.

    • Anthony, I am so glad we both understand these truths now. This certainly was a quandary for me in the last several years. I “tried” living selflessly but it was impossible when my focus was on myself. I did things for others but always expected something in return, which was not real love; when I didn’t receive what I expected (and thought I deserved) it made me feel sorry for myself and like people treated me unfairly. My ego grew as my heart was blinded to the fact I was the one treating others unkindly.

      From what I know about the ministry you are a part of I can hardly imagine how hard it must be to routinely let go of friends when you’ve been such an integral part in their lives. It must be bittersweet every time. That’s sad to hear you felt like they wouldn’t want to be with you anymore when they no longer needed you. While they may not need you, they were your friends and still enjoy you. I am guessing many of these friends find it a joy to, in some way, bless you by giving back something after all you have given them; and of course, that would only be possible with a re-established friendship.

      I might have misunderstood what you are saying about yourself, and I don’t want to be imposing and assuming things on you, but here is what I’ve understood in my own life and what I think I understand about you:

      It’s strange; we come to similar dilemmas from to different angles–but the same root problem: a wrong self-image. I tend to focus on myself and my wants too much and you haven’t looked after your wants as much as you should. Neither of us used to realize what we truly needed. The second great commandment is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I didn’t love my neighbor as much as I should have and you didn’t love yourself as much as you should have; in that one commandment we are taught two things: love others and love yourself . . . equally. Actually, I swing back and forth between the two wrong self-images but it’s all a problem of pride so it isn’t surprising that I can go from one to the other so easily. It’s hard for me to maintain a balanced view of myself and others.

  2. P.S. I feel I need to add this — I recognize that you are your own toughest critic, but I want you to know that I can see your heart is beautiful, and it’s not because of anything you’ve said or done for me. Your words reflect an intimacy with your Father that radiates, and there is nothing in this world more valuable than that. Those who know Him will love the Christ they see in you and be blessed by your company, regardless of what else you have to give. Walk as a child of light, for you are magnificent in His eyes and among those who know your heart.

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