I cried at Walmart today.

I stood there in the parking lot and cried for the sheer emotional relief of it. This was after I’d been embarassed by myself and my offspring constantly being in the way of other shoppers for yes, three whole hours, corralling my little brood and suggesting manners at every turn, finally losing sight of a child in the parking lot and finding him with other people leaning out of their vehicles … and all this after leaving home this morning, where my kids dumped the dog food bowl three times in three different rooms. People in the store had been giving me either polite or sympathetic looks as we hauled down any given crowded aisle.

When the four of us are bumbling through stores, saying “Excuse us!” twenty-six times, and when my rush to get out of the checkout line with our overflowing cart results in me forgetting something (“Ma’am, Ma’am! Your purse!”), I feel like a burden to other people. And I wish I could say it only happened in stores! But I’m usually in need of a babysitting swap with a friend. My children have been known to shout or tumble (voluntarily or not) to the floor in the middle of a library. Someone’s always opening the door for us as we edge through with the stroller. And I am often late. Make that always late.

I don’t know if this is a legitimate connection, but this makes me think of Peter and his horror at Jesus serving him and washing his feet (John 13:1-11). I feel an unfortunate kinship with Peter here. I would rather be the one serving, the stronger one, the helper, and am quite embarrassed when others do things on my behalf. I am convinced this is one of the reasons God gave me three kids so close together! Not to discount the necessity of servanthood, but I needed to get into the habit of laying down my pride and arrogance as the “giver” and become the “receiver”—because in the body of Christ, we’re all doing both. None of us, Paul notes, can say, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12:21-26). Having kids has made me weaker (though, of course, stronger), needier, and certainly more grateful.

This may be, in fact, why Jesus told us that we must become like little children to receive and enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17). There’s no question that my kids are dependent, needy … not always humbly, mind you, but trust me, they’re always asking for what they need!

So the next time you’re wanting to crawl in a hole—or cry in a parking lot—because of how you’re in the way, may God use your neediness to bless you.