Skip to content

Archive for

A Girl Called Norman

“Tragedy has struck…”

My stomach churned as I felt an odd sense of what those words might mean. There were no details in the Facebook post, but in my mind I immediately sensed at a gut level what had occurred. I hoped I was wrong and continued scrolling.

This morning, I stumbled upon the post that proved me right and confirmed my fears.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This story doesn’t begin with a Facebook post. It really begins twelve years ago, but we’ll start with the chapter with which I’m most familiar. This past June, Zach and I had the opportunity to represent our undergraduate alma mater at the church youth camp Zach had attended as a teenager. I had visited the camp once before as a college representative, and both of us were excited to be back.

The week before we left, I began praying that God would use me to lead the young girls I would meet toward Himself and His grace. He answered that prayer by bringing me girls full of hurt. My heart broke as I listened to a few girls talk calmly, even flippantly, about being sexually abused by family members and how their mothers left because “she didn’t love us anymore.” So matter of fact. So…clinical.

And then, there was my Norman. My family has always used the name “Norman” to refer to a person in our lives that God sends our way. This person is placed in our path for us to minister to them, but often their personality clashes with our own or leaves us feeling worn down and annoyed. Even so, we meet them with the knowledge – a nudge by God Himself, perhaps – that we have been called to love this person and thus show them the love God has for them. The name comes from a book and movie that I watched in the early 2000s, and the idea has stuck with us all these years later.

This Norman was very unlike the original Norman from the story; mine was a petite, active, and inquisitive pre-teen girl with curly blonde hair rather than the large, lumbering male that inspired the moniker. Their need for love and attention was the same. Throughout the week I would find her plopped on my bed with another question about why she had to follow the dress code or if her inner thoughts and feelings were normal. I sat with her in some of the services and tried to help her focus on the Word of God. I’m not sure I was as patient as I could have been, but even so she took to me. I even had an opportunity to pray with her when she felt doubts about her relationship with God.

Fast forward to this week and the foreboding post I saw. When I read the word tragedy and the name of her youth group in the same sentence, I immediately saw her face, felt intuitively that tragedy had come to her. Unfortunately, I was right. For reasons unknown to me, my Norman lost her life to suicide this week. She wasn’t even a teenager yet.

I don’t really have words to provide application for this post. Not today. Not other than to say, love your Normans, friends. Love those who annoy you, who cling to you, who are so very, very different. Love them most of all.

Advertisements

It’s Okay to Be Needy

I was recently telling a friend about one of my husband’s pet peeves. Often, as he tries to get ready in the morning, I feel a compelling need to be shown love and affection right. at. that. moment. He’s halfway through buttoning his shirt or straightening his tie, even mid-way through brushing his teeth, and I’m engulfing him in a hug or invading his personal space, lips puckered, waiting for a kiss. He is not amused. It does not seem to leave him with the warm fuzzies I feel during those moments. I guess I just have to keep trying!

This week, he is away getting some of our things we left in storage in England and meeting with his advisor in Glasgow. There are no morning routines for me to interrupt. At the same time, there has been a deluge of information parading around me about the importance of independence, but the blessing of community. In our hyper-individualized culture, we all crave community and connection, but the characterization of being dependent on others or needy? We avoid that like the plague. We all want to be strong, independent women who don’t need no man. Or whatever.

I am all about healthy boundaries (regardless of what my morning routine of compulsive affection-giving may indicate). I also prize the individual hobbies and interests Zach and I have and our ability to maintain a personal life that isn’t completely encompassed with the other. However, I also recognize that my husband makes me a better person. Beyond simply liking it when he’s around (which I do! A lot!), being apart from him for any extended period of time helps me recognize my need for him to keep me accountable with my goals, focused on the good in life, and committed to adulting rather than whiling away my hours on Netflix as I would otherwise be wont to do. Can I do these things on my own? Yeah, but it’s much more difficult.

My neediness extends beyond my marriage, though. I spoke last post about the women’s book study I have been able to be a part of this semester. Each week, I’m confronted with my need for godly women of varying backgrounds and ages to speak wisely and lovingly into my life. I need mentorship and the opportunities to converse, cry, and rejoice with women on various stages of their life journeys. I could sit at home alone and read my Bible, pray every day. In fact, I should be doing those things on an individual level. But if that’s all I get? I am missing out, and so are the other members of the church.

And if this weekly reminder of my need for others were not enough, this week our church held a special service focused on covenanting together as a body of believers. I had already begun writing this blog, but I was reminded once again in the sermon that God calls us to meet together, to share with one another the ways the Lord is working (or seeming silent) in our lives. We need one another to spur each other on to good works. God’s Word tells us that we need to be needy. We just can’t go it alone. We need the Lord and His grace above all things, but we also need one another.

So be independent. Be strong. Be productive and efficient and successful. But don’t be an island. See the needs of others and meet them if you can, but recognize your need for others, too. Learn to be okay with being needy.