Pulse Check: What Do You Need?

Step through the doorway?

Needs and wants are funny things, especially when it comes to examining the heart.

I’ve noticed so many times over the last couple years that I’m surprised by my wants and needs — that what I think I want and need isn’t what I really want or need at all, once I really quiet myself to listen.

Has this ever happened to you?

My spiritual director, Elaine, is great at helping me clarify my needs and wants — and not just the difference between them but also what is real and what is superficial assumption. There have been several times in the last few years, for instance, that I’ve come into a session with her upset or confused or fidgety about something. We talk for a while about all the conflict of thoughts and emotions I’m carrying, and then she’ll often ask one of two questions: 

What do you need in this place? 


If you could ask God for anything in this place, what would it be?

These are such amazing questions. I’ve found they so often crystallize the difference between what I think I want or need and what I really want or need.

So often when I’m struggling with something, I think that I want God to fix it — to take it away, restore peace and serenity, and just overall to clean things up. But when I really get quiet and listen to my heart’s voice in that place, often the real need or desire is different from that. My heart instead says things like: 

  • I want to know God is here. 
  • I want to know he hears my heart. 
  • I want to remember how to trust him.
  • I just want to see his eyes looking at me.

It’s been interesting for me to notice that I don’t necessarily want or need God to fix everything, but rather that I simply want to know he is there, that he sees me, that he’s not going anywhere. 

That kind of distinction just blows my mind. 

For today’s Pulse Check, I’d like to invite you to consider your own wants and needs.

Consider what’s right on the surface — if you had to answer in a quick heartbeat right now, what would you say you want or need in this very moment?

Then take a moment to go deeper. Allow yourself to ask the question again, with more intentionality: What do I really need right here in this place?