I’m not good at accepting help.
There. I said it. I say that like you twisted my arm to admit it, but honestly, who is?
Our culture thrives on that “pick yourself up by the bootstraps,” “stand on your own two feet” mentality. By accepting help, we feel like we are admitting defeat. We just can’t do it. We’re just not good enough. We’ve failed.
And in that vein, asking for help requires a vulnerability we are loath to live out. We have to show others our messiness. We can’t hide behind the picture-perfect Instagram life we share online because when we allow someone in, they see the behind-the-scenes. They see the imperfection. They see the real.
Or maybe you, like me, don’t want to burden others with your burdens. You don’t want to put anyone out by asking for help. You don’t want to add to anyone else’s load when you know you yourself are struggling to carry your own.
Or maybe you’re just used to doing everything yourself anyway, and asking for help doesn’t even occur to you. I know for me, I am the sole person responsible for my kids most of the day, and if something comes up, I handle it because I’m the only one around to handle it. It’s practicality.
For whatever reason, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not letting others help you.
God created us to be in relationships, and that means we share each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). I think of the above excuses and scoff when the shoe is on the other foot. That is, I’m the one being asked for help. I don’t think of the person asking for or in need of help as a failure. I don’t care if their life is messy. I don’t think of that person adding to my load or putting me out. And I consider it an honor that person thought of me instead of trying to bear it on their own.
I recall a time when I was pregnant with my firstborn. We were trying to pack up our tiny apartment to move into a bigger place, and, being 39 weeks pregnant, I was feeling quite overwhelmed with the task. One of our community group members offered to spend her afternoon at our apartment to help me. I resisted. It wasn’t her problem. I was ok, really. Finally, she blurted, “Just let me bless you!” I was stung with this truth: I love showing the love of God to others through kind works and acts of service. How cruel it is to rob others of this blessing by refusing their help!
God knows how hard it is for us to ask for help, so He shows us time and time again throughout Scripture it really is ok.
One that comes to mind is in Exodus 17 when Joshua was fighting a battle against the Amaleks. Moses stood on a hill with his staff held high. Anytime he lowered his staff, the battle turned against Joshua and the Israelites. As you can imagine, his arms got pretty tired, so his brother Aaron and a man named Hur stood next to him and held up his arms when he grew weary. Israel prevailed.
Or, I think about how Jesus commanded us to come to Him when we are weary and in need: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He told us to ask for help. And while He was a great servant leader Himself (John 13:1-17), He accepted an act of service by allowing a woman to wash His feet (Luke 7:36-50). He asked a woman to draw water for Him at a well (John 4:1-42) and His disciples to bring Him food to feed the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). He was a guest in several homes including Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). He even let John baptize Him against John’s insistence that He baptize John (Matthew 3:13-17).
I’ve recently given birth to my third child, and the whole experience has forced me to face the truth that none of us can do this alone. It was a rough pregnancy. The physical toll it took on me didn’t allow me to fulfill the usual tasks I was used to fulfilling. As a woman with pretty high standards for herself, things got out of hand quickly, and it led to some pretty crippling anxiety that I tended to take out on those closest to me.
Several people have brought meals or a coffee. Others have offered to watch my older two kids while I take a shower or run an errand. Some have graciously taken over duties I usually carry out – for example, with this very blog. One woman at our church even offered to do my laundry for me! I have not accepted every offer of help extended to me, but in this season of my life, the Holy Spirit has challenged me to focus on being more vulnerable. To allow others into the mess of my life. To accept the help, the offer, or the gift when it is extended.
Asking for help isn’t my first instinct when I’m struggling. I won’t remember to have my friends hold up my arms like Moses every time I’m weary. It doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a re-training of my brain and heart (Ephesians 4:23). Asking for and accepting help does not mean I’m a failure or I’m not doing my job. Asking for help allows me to become the woman God made me (Ephesians 4:24), and it allows others to come alongside me in the process (Proverbs 27:17).
It’s the season for resolutions. I hope you’ll join me.