I have legitimate needs. I need to set up boundaries.

several assorted-color neon light signage

My recent discovery is that I have needs. Legitimate needs. And I need to make sure they get met.

On the one hand, your first thought might be, “Well, duh. Very insightful, girlfriend. Everyone has needs. For example, everyone needs water, food, love…” Or it could be the opposite, “‘Need’ is a very strong word. Most of what you think you need is really a want.” I would know; I’ve tended to ride these extremes.

However, the fact of the matter is that there is a middle ground–one that deserves our attention. Sometimes I inaccurately frame my “wants” as “needs.” But just as likely, I fear, I dismiss my sincere and legitimate “needs” as only selfish “wants.” And that isn’t fair to myself.

I, after all, am a princess of the True and living God, complete with needs deserving much more than flippant dismissal. I am worth fighting for and I–being the one best aware of my needs–have the responsibility to fight for them.

blue wooden dor

Honestly, it is a bit humbling.

It’s humbling to admit I have needs. It’s humbling to put a limit on what I can do for others because I need to take time for myself. It’s humbling to ask for things I need.

But I’m worth it. So I’ve been learning to set up boundaries. Not to control others. But for my own safety–out of self-respect. It’s not easy.

First, I have to recognize needs that I have a right to: Respect. Trust. Truth. Space… 

Then I have to set up realistic, concrete boundaries.

“I need rest, hence I can help you, but only until 10 pm.”

“I need respect so if you continue to use that tone of voice with me, I will walk away.”

“I value our relationship, however, I need it to be grounded on trust and if you continue to lie to me, I will have to remove myself from this situation for my own safety.”

“I need someone to listen, so even if it might inconvenience her, I will call my friend.”

“I need help with dinner, so I need you to turn off the TV.”

“I need your attention, so I need you to set aside your phone.”

green leafed plant near table

While the concepts are always true, most of my specific boundaries are grounded in some time and circumstantial frame; things I need in certain moments, but not all the time. For example, some nights I can stay up later than 10 talking to a friend. Sometimes I can grin and bear it and make dinner alone. Sometimes I can just journal instead of talking in real time to a friend. However, just because they aren’t always a need doesn’t dismiss them as never a need.

I definitely don’t claim to know the trick to determining when a desire is a want versus a need. That’s a struggle I’m dealing with every day. Do I really need time alone or am I just wanting it? And then there are other confusing conflicts; I need time alone to rest and she needs someone to be with her and listen to her. What then? My mom needs to be treated with respect, but her son needs to be heard and loved regardless.

So, no, I don’t have that down yet. But for now I’m giving myself space to recognize that I do have needs. Legitimate needs. And, being a human created in the very image of our great God, I have a right to treat myself with respect. In fact, I have the duty to stand up for myself–to make sure my needs are met. Because I’m worth it.

You’re worth it. And you do have needs. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s right, even. So give yourself space to listen to your needs. And then set up boundaries to take care of yourself. It’s how God created us. Self-respect is not selfish.

Comment below. What are some needs that you legitimately have? What are some boundaries that are appropriate, even though they may sometimes feel selfish? What do you do to differentiate between a want and a need?

brown wooden fence


Moving to Humility:Accepting what’s offered

edouard-tamba-138814Moving is an incredibly humbling experience.

No, I’ve never had my life completely together. I doubt anyone ever has. But I had a pattern. I knew how to do what I was doing and–not gonna lie–being a senior at school does give one a sense of accomplishment and seniority.

Read my blog posts; I didn’t know what I was going to do and I was terrified. But I still had friends who wanted to hang out, familiarity with my surroundings, and comfortability with everyday life.

Then–all of a sudden–I got dumped into a random place, where I’m basically the newest, the youngest, and come in not knowing a single person. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even talk because I’ll mispronounce the names of the cities nearby…when I even have an idea 0824171936of what cities are nearby.

I like to think I’m delightful, approachable, and 24-karat quality when it comes to friend material. I have great relationships with people from home; it was a two-way street. I knew my friends at home and I knew how to show love to them. I could make friends who were specifically interested in being my friend.

But here I am, falling into a place where I need to make friends because I can’t healthily adjust on my own. But the people here didn’t ask for another person. They didn’t ask to entertain someone new. They didn’t ask to be subjected to my verbal onslaughts when I think what I have to say is very important or entertaining.

The folks at Camp Timber-lee have been outrageously friendly with me. It’s really a blessing because I need it. But it’s drastically humbling at the same time, as I have to accept their sacrifice without knowing what it’s costing them.

Maybe they were content with the friends they had. Maybe showing me the ropes and conversing through my awkward uncertainties isn’t their dream down-time. Maybe I just plain rub them the wrong way. I feel like I’m taking so much with having so little to offer in return.

group of people sitting on truck bedBut the fact is that–just as giving is sometimes healthy–accepting is also sometimes healthy. And right now, I need to accept what the friendship people here are offering. I don’t have to feel guilty. Though if I can’t help but feel guilty, I don’t need to feel guilty about feeling guilty. Humility isn’t about having a steel grip on my emotions. In this case, it’s about accepting what’s being generously offered.

What do you need to accept?