A relationship expert, Alison Armstrong, mentioned on a recent radio show that women have a tendency to only ask for what they feel they deserve, not what they need. They make a mental assessment of all the good they have done, and subtract all the mistakes and failures, and end up with what they imagine they deserve. I would venture to suggest that they also subtract all the negative messages they have been fed by dysfunctional families, failures and unhappy relationships, which usually brings them pretty close to rock bottom when it comes to their perception of what they deserve in life.
Their standards of what is tolerable, acceptable, even “good” can fall so low, that they never do see their true needs met. They tolerate loveless marriages, dead-end jobs, uncommitted boyfriends, unhealthy eating habits, disorderly households, foul language, rebellious children, etc., etc…
When it comes to insisting on what we need, many women feel guilty, almost ashamed to think that they have any right to have such high expectations. But a need is a need. Just like food, air, water, clothing and shelter are basic physical needs, there are many more needs that God wants us to have fulfilled, that we can foolishly believe are too much to ask for.
Let’s use the example of our basic need for a loving, happy home. God says in Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families.” Loneliness and lack of affection plagues so many, not just single, but married women as well. Many do pray, do believe in God, and do try to be faithful to Him. They could easily say, “This verse sounds nice, but must be for others who deserve it more than me.”
Right there, that deserve vs. need dilemma kicks in “I don’t deserve it, and obviously God thinks I don’t deserve it either, otherwise He would have fixed it a long time ago.” And in an instant, her defeatist attitude blocks her her faith and from asking for what she needs.
“Asking for,” in God’s dictionary, can come in many, many forms. It could be crying out to Him loudly, or repeatedly persisting until the “unjust judge” responds, getting up in the early watches of the night to seek His face, lamenting, repenting and mourning, making a vow to Him, fasting from food, writing out a request, sacrificing possessions, standing firm in faith despite the circumstances…
In other words, God’s idea of asking is very active, and very determined. It also presupposes that as we ask, we also listen. God frequently responds to our requests with His own requests. There are actions and choices that He requires of us, in order to prepare us to receive the blessings that we so greatly need. As we obey, we open doors to receive even more than our needs.
Imagine a woman pleading for God to grant her a loving husband. But her heart is full of bitterness towards her exes, and grudges against neighbors and coworkers. If she is like the persistent widow and continuously comes to God with her request, she will be doing the right thing. But part of God’s answer is to request a sacrifice from her: Forgive them, love your enemies, be cleansed. She has the choice to obey, or to rebel against His direction. If she sacrifices her pride and forgives, she not only has pleased God, she has cast out an evil presence from inside of herself. Her obedience and sacrifice, becomes an integral part of her request, proof of her faith, and gives weight to her insistence that her needs be met. God may have more requests of her than that, but not because He wants drag out the process of blessing her just to make her suffer, He is strengthening her and fulfilling other needs as well.
If we got what we deserved, we wouldn't even be alive today. God is in the business of grace, mercy, forgiveness, pardon - basically NOT giving us what we deserve. God wants us to fulfill our needs, but if we are like the typical churchgoer who asks once in a while and then gives up with no action, no sacrifice, and no attentiveness to God’s requests, we can slip into the rut of believing that we never deserved it anyway.