Ricky was the most popular guy in our fourth grade culture—smart, admired by all the girls, good in sports, and hip in that grade school kind of way. Everyone wanted to be Ricky’s best friend.

And I was … for about three days.

I remember how great it felt living in that wonderland of being the renowned Ricky’s best friend. We did everything together and he consulted me on every decision or opinion.

“What do you think, Eddie?”

“Ask Eddie. He’s really smart.”

It seemed that the other boys and girls admired me almost as much as him. When Ricky and I walked onto the playground we were important. I was living a dream until the day I rode my bike into the schoolyard and noticed “him.”

Randy.

Where did he come from? Suddenly Ricky’s world was all about Randy and I faded back into the crowd—a regular nobody.

And then Ricky turned to me and called me “Underwood” instead of “Eddie.” That did it. I screamed in Ricky’s face, “I don’t need you!” I shouted it again and again as I ran from Ricky’s fan club to hide my tears.

It wasn’t the last time I said that to somebody: “I don’t need you!”

With more than six decades of life behind me now, I’m beginning to understand what I was really saying to Ricky and to everyone else on the receiving end of my desperate claim to independence, “I don’t need you!”

“I don’t need you” always expresses a wounded heart. It really means, “I cannot trust you, and therefore I determine not to need you. Your love is self-centered, conditional, disappointing, and hurtful. I long to need you, but I will not! Better not to need at all than to need and be hurt.”

Could it be that you’re thinking of someone you have determined not to need? A father who used or spurned your innocent love? A mother who let you know you would never measure up? A pastor whose love always had more to do with what you could do for him than what God could do for you? A spouse or friend who betrayed you? A prodigal child? A family member who just won’t let you in?

Your heart will never heal in the shadow of a lie. It isn’t that you don’t need these people, it’s that they have hurt you so badly that it takes your breath away.

May I offer a healthier option to screaming, “I don’t need you” and running across the playground of your life?

Run to Jesus. Run to His the throne of grace and scream in your heart or at the top of your lungs, “Jesus, I need you!”

And stay there as long as it takes to trust and feel His healing love melt away the bitterness and relieve the hurt.

His is a love that will never disappoint because it’s a love without an agenda, without conditions and all about you. It’s a love you can trust that won’t ever say to you, “Wait, I’m busy with the more important people. Can’t you see I’m talking to Randy?” His arms are always open to you because you are His special concern. He is the only One who knows what you need most…Him.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 13:9).