The Joy of Not Being Needed

ELIZABETH GARN|GUEST

There are times when I hear my name called from another room or when my phone dings with another email, that my shoulders droop and I let out a long, exhausted sigh. Someone needs me again.

I don’t know if you’ve felt this way, but trying to juggle work, a pandemic, family life, and everything else that needs my attention can be exhausting. These days, I often feel like I’m needed all day long. And while being needed is wonderful, it’s also hard. Needed implies deadlines, expectations, and a constant stream of things that require my attention.

It’s nice to be needed and I love the life that God has given me. But I have also found that as nice as it is to be needed, I long to be wanted more. Wanted, not for what I can do, but simply for being me.

For a long time, I felt this way about my relationship with God as well. I thought he created me because he needed someone to worship him or fill some void. I thought he had a list of things he needed me to accomplish for him; that he needed me to serve him. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that my purpose as a child of God was about what I do. It’s an exhausting, defeating, and discouraging way to live and I found myself constantly striving to do enough.

I found hope, however, when I learned that we aren’t needed by God, instead, we are very, very wanted.

The Beauty of “us”

Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In this verse, the Triune God pauses the creation narrative to announce what he’s about to do— he is going to create humans.

It’s one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. It’s laden with hope, meaning, and purpose. God is going to create us and he’s going to do it for a very specific reason: we are going to be his images on the earth. We will reflect him, represent him, and declare his glory to the whole earth. It’s the heart of our purpose!

But 1:26 doesn’t just tell us our purpose, it also tells us about God’s motivation for creating us in the first place. It’s in that little word “us” that we learn about God’s abundant, overflowing love. It’s there where we see how wanted we are!

Us. God is trinitarian: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is of one substance (or nature) and exists in three distinct, unmingled persons. This is important for several very specific reasons, but the one that matters to this conversation is that God exists in relationship within himself.

Relationship is a huge part of the nature of God; he has, does, and always will exist in perfect relationship within himself. There is unity among the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: no vying for power or position, no loneliness, and no lack. What this means is that God doesn’t need us!

If God the Father was without the Son or Spirit, we could say that maybe he was lonely. Maybe he needed a friend, a servant, or creatures to stroke his ego? But because God exists in perfect relationship within himself, none of that is true. He doesn’t get lonely and he didn’t create us to fill some lack that he had; he is perfectly satisfied within himself.

When God speaks in verse 26 and says, “Let us create man,” we can know with absolute certainty that it isn’t need that prompts his actions, it’s want. He creates out of his own free will, motivated by his overflowing love. It wasn’t lack that prompted him, but abundance.

God’s Overflowing Love

The perfect love that exists within God himself abounded and out of that love he chose to create us; people to pour that love upon. That abundance—that overflowing, outward-facing love—led him to create us not because he needed something from us or had something for us to do, but simply because he wanted to.

God isn’t a lonely being, longing for someone to love him back. He isn’t manipulative or trying to fill some emotional void. He is the King, perfectly sufficient in himself but exceedingly generous and with love abounding.

I don’t know about you, but I need to know this. I am tired and weary and sometimes feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions at the same time; always needed by someone to do something else. And while I know I am loved by many, I find my heart seeks solace in knowing how deeply I am loved by God.

There is rest and freedom in knowing that it was love that prompted him to create us, not need. He wanted us. Are there things he asks us to do, obedience that’s part of the Christian life? Of course. But knowing that we were created out of his abundant love, that it was want and not need that prompted his creation, brings rest to our souls. God didn’t create us because he needed us to do something for him. He has no lack for us to fill and that is a beautiful, freeing thing.

We can rest in the truth that God doesn’t need us, but he absolutely wanted us.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Garn

Elizabeth Garn is a writer, speaker, wife, mom, and geek. When she’s not picking Legos off the family room floor, she’s writing about everyday theology and talking about what it means to be made in the image of God. She is the author of Freedom to Flourish: The Rest God Offers in the Purpose He Gives You, writes for ChristandPopCulture.com, The Gospel Coalitionand blogs at www.ElizabethGarn.com. You can follow her on twitter @GarnElizabeth.
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