When You Can’t Meet Every Need

We went on an impromptu date the other night. Just me and him, while the older girls babysat the kids. We chose a nearby restaurant where we could sit outside and watch the boats in the marina. Our conversation was mostly light. Books we’re reading, the kids, his job, upcoming travel—his not mine, writing ideas—mine not his, and of course the challenges and joys of this current season in which we’re all adjusting to a new school year, new responsibilities, and new rhythms. 

While we were driving home I told my husband that I’m loving every minute of what I’m doing for our family in this season. And I am, truly. But I’m also realizing once again how very many needs exist in our home and how impossible it is to meet them all. 

Mommy, I need new jeans.

Mommy, we’re out of my favorite toothpaste.

Mommy, I need your help tying my shoes.

Mommy, I need to go potty!

Mommy, can we go for a walk?

Mommy, don’t go to bed yet, I want to talk some more.

Of course my children have other needs they don’t know to articulate. Like their need for security, love, time, attention, discipleship. Like I said, the needs are great. 

I want to meet their needs and it brings me great joy to meet their needs. But I cannot meet every need for every person in the ways they want or even in the ways I would like to. It’s impossible. 

And so, as I was explaining this conundrum to my husband, I told him how I’ve reconciled the tension in my heart. Here’s what I said:

“I can’t meet all of their needs, but I can meet this one.”

When my daughter hands me a dress from the dress-up bin and asks me to put it on and dance around the living room. I can do that.

When another daughter says “I need a protractor for math class,” I stop at Walgreens on my way home from Bible study and pick up the math kit. 

The other night, I boiled sweet potatoes for supper because one of my children is convinced I’m out to serve him only his least favorite foods every night. Can I meet his need for love by switching up my meal plan? Yes. I can absolutely do that.

Needs will always exist and we will most likely feel overwhelmed by the enormity of needs around us. If it isn’t the people within our homes, it’s the community, our friends, neighbors, extended family, even strangers. One of the ways we model Christ’s love is by serving those around us and seeking to meet their needs. We can’t do it all, but we can do something. Maybe just one thing. Perhaps, today, for right now, that will be enough.

And maybe, just maybe, with this one act of service—a simple demonstration of I love you enough to give myself to you in this way—we will point them to the One who alone can meet their greatest need. 

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash