The Boundless Show is a favourite among the podcasts I listen to. While I may not always agree with everything the show discusses or espouses, each week provides fresh and meaty listening -- good, thought-provoking discussions. This week's episode opens with a discussion about independence vs. vulnerability, inspired in part by the remarks of guys who felt that women who appear confident and personally independent send out vibes that suggest they are not interested in marriage, while girls who express neediness and vulnerability are much more appealing.
I confess that I was a little incensed by this idea. Many of us have memories of the emotional, needy girl in the youth group -- or class or Bible study or friend circle -- who monopolised attention by bringing perpetual dramas to the fore. Few of us want to be that girl. Likewise, many of us don't tend to express our needs to people outside our closest acquaintance, or we feel shy about asking for help. And there are many who have opened up to share a need and had their vulnerability ignored or belittled, leading them to learn to be more discreet about sharing. Others have a personally confident demeanour that doesn't accurately reflect what's going on inside. And sometimes, we just don't know if people have the time or even care.
It frustrated me to think that girls who put on a brave face or don't beg for assistance might gain an unwanted reputation for icy independence, and it frustrated me still more to think that there's nothing I can do about this misconception. It niggled at me to think of the unfairness of this mindset -- that girls who have needs but don't express them may be overlooked in favour of those who appear more needy -- and the fact that there's no way I can change individuals' perceptions of this. But then the penny dropped (thank you, God, for those pennies that remind us of our own wrongs and failings, and draw our attention away from those of others): the lesson is not that I have to change peoples' perceptions in order to make them look deeper -- it's that I need to look deeper.
Who in my life is putting on a brave face? Who in my life needs to know that their needs are valuable, even if they don't make a song and dance about it? To whom can I offer the chance to be vulnerable and express their neediness? Help us not just to see needs, God; help us to look for them.