When Life is Overwhelming, Where do You Go?

A spiritual perspective in the midst of the flood

Woman walking in the woods

Violent riots. Hateful rhetoric. Eclipse. Hurricanes. Forest fires. Earthquakes. Were we not living the reality, none of us would have believed all these events could have happened in the last six short weeks. America alone has and continues to suffer devastation in three of the four corners of our precious country. And the beautiful world around us suffers even more destruction. That would be enough for many of us. But in the midst of it all, Houston, my city, our city, has taken a huge blow. Even those whose home or business wasn’t personally damaged, are experiencing the trauma of living in an area where so many were. Each person knows someone who has experienced loss. The first question to friends and strangers is often, “How is your home? Did you flood?”

Driving through the streets of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey there is a frequent shift in sights ~ from business-as-usual to what resembles scenes from a war zone. There is no making light of this. The impact of seeing such devastation and police presence is pure shock. Curbs are piled high with sheet rock, carpet, furniture and every personal possession to be imagined. Buildings are vacant, as if hurriedly left in the middle of the night – furniture overturned, books, papers and personal items strewn about by powerful, rising water. Several parts of the city remain submerged, patrolled by local and national law enforcement present in boats, helicopters, squad cars, and humvees. Many live with an ever increasing knowledge of levees, mold, insurance adjusters, “mucking out”, respiration masks and FEMA. Whether in Houston or elsewhere, it is clear that the damage is real. And long lasting.

In the midst of it all, life continues. Loved ones die. Layoffs happen. Cancer diagnoses are given. Relationships end. Even those who have been unscathed, experience the reality of survivors guilt. The pain and suffering can feel overwhelming.

Lest you think this post is simply another news story cataloging the destruction, let us ask the questions, “What good is there? What do I do when it feels overwhelming? Where is God? Where do I go??”

Oh, the good. He brings the good in spades. Look around. What do you see in the midst of the chaos? What do you hear?

When I think back to the week of August 15th and the state of my social media sites, I am reminded of the conflict, criticism and anger. No one was spared. The judgment and guilt flowed freely. It was clearly brother against brother across the country. And yet, four short weeks later and what fills my feed? Stories of heroism, sacrifice and love. Hope for a hurting country.

Thousands have poured into Southeast Texas from far away places. Millions of dollars have been donated by people, companies and sports teams across the land. Businesses have stepped forward to offer aid and grace. People. People have come forth in boats and trucks, donned masks and gloves to rescue the people and restore the homes of strangers. The freeways are full of emergency vehicles set to keep the peace, recovery vehicles to restore property and buses and vans filled with strangers to do the work. Name a license plate and I’ve seen it. Every day I am amazed by the generosity of strangers. That they would leave their homes, travel across the country, wade through the infested waters and enter mold-filled homes to help another human being is inspiring. And humbling. This is the good.

These stories are manifestations of the scriptures. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Matthew 22:36-40 tells us, “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” We see them come to life in technicolor. Look for examples around you.

But what about when it’s not enough? Do you find yourself asking, “What do I do when there is too much? How can I possibly handle it?”

Houston and many other places have experienced a significant trauma. The widespread destruction, the sheer number of people impacted, the suddenness, the experience of being IN it and the fact that support systems have also been affected make it even more difficult to overcome. Difficult, but not impossible. Jesus himself told us, “…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We are promised in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” To the Israelites, Isaiah said, “…the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:12) Take heart, dear ones!!

The scriptures are full of promises just like these!! He sees our suffering and weeps with us. He longs to comfort us in the midst of the pain, as He stands in front of, behind and next to us throughout it all. (See Zechariah 2:5) Paul writes in Philippians, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” And yet, we can do very little on our own. Certainly not in the wake of such trauma and heartache. Where is God? With us. Always. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Rest, dear ones.

And in the midst of the struggle, He gives us good gifts. These are some that you can embrace:

1. Grief“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:1, 4) The Lord gives us the gift of grief. The ability to feel deeply the losses we experience, so that we may know the value of this life. So that we may turn to Him for our comfort. Jesus experienced this. He knows the suffering and is a balm to our souls. Let yourself grieve the loss – however big or small. It is a natural human emotion, given to us by Him for expression. Don’t bottle it up or brush it aside.

2. Community – Think again of all the examples of community coming together. Be inspired by the brotherly love that is growing day by day in the midst of tragedies. There is an old song that keeps playing through my mind, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they will know we are Christians by our love…” We have an opportunity to show the love of Christ to friends and strangers. To love as He first loved us. If you have need, ask for help. Give others the opportunity to be His hands and feet to you. If you have enough, offer to others. We each have special skills to share. And yet there are tasks that don’t require any skill at all. Find a place to serve. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes another will himself be refreshed.” Go, and be refreshed.

3. Self Care“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16) Jesus knew that he must have time alone with his Father – to be refreshed and re-centered in the midst of this earthly life. And we, in our humanity, must do the same. We must take time to rest, recharge and refill so that we can then love and serve others. So, sleep, eat, laugh, take brain breaks, move your body, pray, meditate and refresh your soul. Fill your pitcher, so that you then have something to pour into the cups of those you serve. For, if you don’t HAVE anything to give, you don’t have ANYTHING to give.

4. Connection – We are created for connection. The Lord gave Eve to Adam because he saw it was not good for him to be alone. (See Genesis 2:18) Throughout the scriptures we see the power of family and friendship. David had Jonathan, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were together in the fire, Jesus had 12 disciples and three in his closest circle. We are created for community and connection. In times of despair and anxiety, it is crucial that we reach out to those we love. We must make our needs known AND we must anticipate the needs of others. Love goes both ways. Think of two people you can call this week to check on or offer love to or pray for and with. You won’t regret making the time for this connection.

There are so many gifts. Look for them in your life and share them with others.

And in the meantime, notice what is happening… each day brings changes. Babies are born. Treatment is finished. Weddings are celebrated. Roads open. Power is restored. Homes are accessible. Trash is collected. Businesses reopen. The weather cools. Yes. Change happens. Restoration begins. Healing comes. This is the circle of life. We see it before us and we are hopeful. We begin to believe that maybe things won’t always be as they are. Maybe it will be okay again. Whatever your loss, whatever your anxiety or worry, whatever your pain, remember that He sees you. He is with you. He will never leave you. Go to Him.

Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 1 are full of these assurances. Spend some time there this week.

What are your favorite scripture verses to remember when life is hard? What do you do to cope with difficult feelings and circumstances? 


Survive the Holidays…With People

Six tips to dealing with the difficult people in your life this holiday season

Table Set for Christmas Dinner

With Christmas and New Year’s breathing down our necks, it can be a challenge to keep the joy alive. As discussed here and here, the holidays can be one of the most difficult times of year for many in our world. One of the best and hardest parts of it involves people: the people we love and the people who are at times the most difficult to love. So, let’s finish up this series with some ways to experience the joy and quite frankly, maintain your sanity, when surrounded by people.

Sometimes it seems that if it wasn’t for other people, we would coast through life just fine, right? But we know that certainly isn’t true. Philosophers, scholars, theologians, psychologists and even Hollywood writers have proven time and time again, that although getting along with others is often a challenge, without them life wouldn’t be worth living. (Think Cast Away) We are designed to live in community and that means with both easy and difficult people.

Sure, we can arrange our lives to minimize the time spent with known difficult persons, but what happens when they end up around our dinner table every Christmas Eve? That’s a completely different story. Here are some things you can do before and during those anticipated visits this year.

Plan Ahead: If you know Aunt Martha will be joining the family gathering this year, anticipate ways you can keep the conversation to acceptable topics. Think about how you will respond to her nosy or off-putting remarks. Visualize yourself engaged in a pleasant conversation. These simple techniques will help you to stay focused and in control of your own feelings and responses when Martha gets revved up.

Eagerly Anticipate the Reunion: If you dread seeing Uncle Mark, that will color your entire holiday experience. Think of something you can appreciate about your Uncle. This might require some help from other family members. Be grateful for those positive qualities. This will help you to greet him with genuine gladness. Remind yourself throughout dinner of those good things. When things get tense, bring the conversation back to these attributes: “Uncle Mark, I have always loved your ability to do impressions. Will you do one for us now?”

Consider the Source: Difficult people have reasons they are difficult. When we can identify what makes them tick, it helps us to understand them better. This, in turn, increases our compassion and often our patience with them. Recognizing which behaviors are strictly about them also helps us to let things roll off our backs.

Manage Your Time: If your visits will be prolonged, be sure to work in time to rejuvenate and recharge your battery. For an introvert, just being in a big crowd uses up a lot of energy. And when you add one or two challenging folks, it can be downright exhausting! Whether introvert or extrovert, being around difficult people takes it out of us all. This year set a schedule to have time to yourself throughout the visit. Go to bed earlier than usual so you can read or connect with a loved one far away. Volunteer to run an errand or watch the kids at the park. Go for a stroll during the day – just you and your walkman. #kickinitoldschool

Remember: Fish and visitors smell after three days. Whoever said this, was right on the money. The older we get, the more busy our lives become, the more we are inundated with constant bad news, the less capacity we have for close quarters with others. When planning your holiday times, keep your trips short. Better to leave wanting more than to exceed your expiration date with a bad taste in your mouth. If the trip is already planned, use the previous tip to create breaks in your togetherness.

Spread the Joy! Make a commitment to share the joy of the season with others. Remind yourself of this every time you get in your car or walk into a store or gathering. Keep your reasons for joy close to your heart, post reminders throughout your life and then pass it along. Put a smile on your face and a ready greeting on your tongue. Be the crazy fool who makes everyone wonder, what’s up with her?? Joy is contagious. Do what you can to spread it around.

Difficult people are all around us. Every family has at least one in their midst. If you find that these people are more toxic than difficult, hiring a counselor or coach to help you navigate the relationship in a safe and healthy way will produce great rewards for you and for them. We are called to love others as we love ourselves. The trick is learning how to do that well. The good news is that it can be done!

My hope for each of you is that this is your best Christmas ever. I hope you and your loved ones remember the reasons you are your favorites. And may the Good News of Christmas bring comfort and peace to you this month and all year long!

What are your tried and true ways of handling tough people or situations? Does eggnog help? 

Survive the Holidays…When Grief Comes

Practical ways to support someone who is grieving at Christmastime

The holidays can be the hardest time of year, especially for someone suffering the loss of a loved one. As discussed in this post, grief stress can easily overwhelm and steal the joy of the Christmas season. Whether it is you or someone you love who is grieving, it is important to offer grace. The grace to miss them. Grace to slow down and simplify. Grace to let yourself weep. Grace to take one day at a time. And even the grace to enjoy the season without them. 

Today, I’m honored to share a post written by my friend and colleague, Teresa Bartnicki, MA, LPC-Intern. Teresa’s post, with wisdom and compassion, provides practical ways to support those who grieve. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Many of us struggle to find ways to help and support grieving family members and friends during the holidays. We want to help, but we often don’t know where to start. We are afraid of doing the wrong thing, so we end up doing nothing at all. Here are some ways that you can reach out to and support your grieving loved ones through the holidays:

  • Support loved one’s decisions about how to celebrate the holidays. Give them the freedom to keep or change traditions as needed. Let go of any expectations and provide a consistent, calming and accepting presence.
  • Offer to help with baking, cleaning, or seasonal decorating. These tasks can be simply overwhelming for those who are grieving.
  • Offer to help prepare holiday mail or join them in holiday shopping.
  • Invite the person to join you or your family for the holidays. Help plan an exit strategy in case one is needed.
  • Ask them what help they need for the holidays and be open to what doesn’t help.
  • Respect their need for privacy and solitude.
  • Offer to share a cup of coffee or take a relaxing walk.
  • Listen to them. Then listen some more. Practice being at ease with whatever emotion they may be feeling.
  • Send them a gift. Give them a journal with words of encouragement or hope written on the inside cover.
  • Offer to sit with them. Let them know that they are not alone.

When you catch yourself thinking about grieving loved ones this holiday season, be sure to reach out to them. Remember that they need your support now more than ever. While you can’t take away the pain of their loss, you can let them know that you care and that you are there for them for the long haul. Continue to check on them after the holidays and be present in as many ways as before. One of the most helpful things you can remember is that grief is not linear and grief doesn’t go away after all of the “firsts”. Continue to reach out to your loved ones on meaningful days and let them know that you are there for them through ALL of their seasons of grief.

Teresa BartnickiTeresa Bartnicki is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern at The WARM Place in Ft. Worth, Texas. She has a heart for all those who grieve and spends as much time as possible with her great loves: family and running.


If, this year, you are the one grieving, ask for help. Share this post with those you love to help them understand what you might need. Find ways to honor those you miss. Remember them this Christmas.


Survive the Holidays…With Style and Grace

Five ways to manage the stresses of the season

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Hello, November! With a turn of the page the busiest time of the year is upon us. Although the holidays are advertised as “the most wonderful time of the year” they are usually the most stressful. Do you feel tired even reading a post about Christmas? Are you still trying to manage the Thanksgiving menu? Are you stressed out knowing the number of shopping days is dwindling rapidly? Do you find yourself resenting the mere suggestion of THINKING about shopping days? Are you more interested in making this season less busy and more enjoyable? If so, read on for practical tips on how to bring back the wonder and joy the season is meant to celebrate.

Many people around the world recognize that Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s promises throughout the scriptures as summarized in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Lord joyfully gave His Son as a gift to us! And so, we should experience that same joy in the celebration of His birth. Unfortunately, we often experience the most tribulation during these very same months. The evil one comes to kill, steal and destroy – our faith, our hope, our joy. But the good news is that He has overcome the world through the very gift of the Christmas we celebrate!! Hallelujah!

So, how DO we not just survive, but DELIGHT in the celebration of Christmas?? Recognizing the ways we are distracted from the joy He offers is the first step. Below are six stressors that creep in to wreak havoc in our lives and steal our joy. They make us tired, grumpy, anxious and no fun to be around! Sounds like our old friends the Grinch and Ebeneezer Scrooge, right?

Acknowledging that these stresses exist and understanding how each affects you will better prepare you to combat them. Read through those listed in Step One and then spend time brainstorming ways you can reduce or eliminate them this year. Even the smallest change can make a big difference over time. Step Two includes ideas to help you really take charge of your holiday experience and make it what you desire it to be!

Step One: Identify the stressors that impact you and the ways they use up your resources.

  • Time Stress – During the holiday season, we have more tasks and events that take our time but no added hours. Tick tock. Tick tock.
  • Choice Stress – Every day in December seems to bring a wonderful opportunity to do something fun and “holiday-ish”. Sometimes choosing between what you can do and what you want or need to do feels like a risky game of eeny meeny miny moe.
  • Financial Stress – How many times have you set a Christmas budget only to realize you’ve doubled or *gasp* tripled it by December 24th?!? To say that the holidays afford financial stress is no laughing matter. #pundefinitelyintended
  • Social Stress – Whether long-lost or bestie our friends love to invite us to celebrate with them, right? It’s great to have friends, but sometimes the invitations simply increase the pressure to spend time and money doing things our resources don’t allow.
  • Emotional Stress – Most of us have at least one family member who is a challenge to be around. Social pressure dictates that we spend holiday time with difficult people simply because they are related. The mere thought sends some people to the corner to cry.
  • Grief Stress – Whether our grief is recent or long-standing, the holidays usually make it bigger. We find that our favorite traditions are rife with memories of those who are no longer with us. What was once a joyous occasion has now become full of sadness that, if not addressed, can hijack our ability to feel joy.

Step Two: Use these ideas to make a plan to reduce your stress and enjoy the Season!

  • Be intentional – You get to decide how you will spend your available resources. Considering which areas of stress are most predominant for you, decide how you will spend your time, money and energy this year. Remember, whatever you say “yes” to means you are saying “no” to something else.
  • Create and protect cherished holiday traditions – What is your favorite tradition(s)? What brings you back to remembering the reason for the season? Plan your time, energy and money around enjoying a few of your most favorite traditions instead of every one that presents itself. #sopunny
  • Decide what’s most important and focus your energy there – How can you simplify your life during the holidays? What can you temporarily eliminate to make room for festivities and celebrations? Just like a financial balance sheet, all categories must equal zero. Spending more time, money or energy than you have puts you in the red.
    • Answer these questions: What will I spend my available time on this year? How much money will I budget and how will I spend it? Who will I make a point to spend time with this year?
  • Put it in writing – Making lists, written budgets and event calendars that you can refer to often will keep you on track throughout the season.
  • Take care of yourself – Give yourself plenty of margin to recover from long days, exhausting small talk and late nights of baking cookies and wrapping gifts. Be sure to incorporate time into each day to decompress. Ask for help when you need it. Cramming your schedule full is a sure way to make you crazy. If you don’t have ANYTHING to give, you don’t have anything to GIVE.

Although there are many more ways to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays for the celebration they are, these will give you a good start. Want more? Are practical worksheets and step-by-step formats your jam? I have just the thing for you ~ download tools to help you work through each of these steps at www.erinkrobison.com/holidays. Then, watch your inbox for more suggestions on how to manage those six stressors this year.

What are ways you reduce stress during the busy holiday season? Are there other stressors I didn’t mention that you have to deal with? What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'” ~ Luke 2:10-14

Do You Ever Feel Like a Fraud?

Five ways to get back on top of your game

Woman looking in the mirror

Do you ever feel like the world’s worst parent? The employee who really doesn’t know what you’re doing? The entrepreneur who is faking it more than making it? The musician, athlete, artist, diaper-changer who can’t imagine that you have anything good to offer others? I sure do.

I have intense moments of crippling self-doubt. Moments of sheer exhaustion from the energy it takes to keep moving forward. Moments of abject fear that everyone will realize what a fraud I am. The kind of moments that make me want to stop doing the hard thing.

Its a fair bet to say that everyone can speak to these exact same feelings at some time or another. Those who can’t are sleeping. 😉 AND although no one knows everything, to call ourselves a fraud is beyond extreme.

So, what do we do in those times to keep moving forward? To conquer the fear? To shore up the tired heart and find the energy and faith we need to keep doing life?

I know the right things to do. The key is to get ’em done. Sometimes I just need a reminder. The next time you find yourself in the throes of giving up, try a couple of these.

Phone a friend. Call up someone in your raving fan club. You’ve got at least one. Your spouse, best friend, mother. Call and let them know what’s going on. Ask them to do what they do best – encourage you. Leaning on your support system is essential in times like this.

Meet up. Send the text or email that asks someone to make time in their day to connect with you. Your people will always make time, especially when they know what’s behind the invitation. It may not be immediate, but even looking forward to the occasion will raise your spirits. We are designed for community. Let your needs be known so others may have the blessing of meeting them. The scriptures say it well, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Exercise. Activate your body. Get the blood flowing. Faulty thinking is usually the problem in fraud-like thinking. Take time to create the endorphins and serotonin your brain needs to clear the cob webs and get you thinking clearly again. Go for a walk, with or without the dog. Do some yoga or calisthenics. Push the wall. The options are limitless.

Pray. Taking time to pray or meditate on the truths of your faith can make the most difference to the spirit that just can’t do it alone anymore. Start with a favorite verse for inspiration and encouragement. Here’s a good one: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

Be your own best friend. Its common that when these doubts and fears plague us, we know the truth in our heads, but our hearts don’t seem to get the message. So, talk to yourself like you would your best friend. You would remind them of what is true – they are working hard, they have great value to offer, they are NOT a fraud. Sometimes you need the same message spoken by one who knows.

As quickly as we can go from the top of the mountain to the bottom, we can also recover from the fall. Taking time to connect with others and the reality of who you are, will get you back on the right track. If today you aren’t facing these feelings, spend a few minutes making your emergency list for the future. Knowing who you can call and what you can do when times are hard will put you ahead of the game.

There are so many ways to calm fear and boost our confidence. What works for you? Who is the first person you would call for encouragement?

Even Them??

Cross on a hill at sunrise

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

This year Easter comes early. Of course, the days slide by so quickly for me that I’m not sure I would have noticed had not people mentioned it repeatedly. Regardless, I find that I have to purposely hit the pause button so that I can think and be mindful of the reason we celebrate. As a long-time Believer in the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me, it’s easy to take this remembrance for granted. But, this year He has orchestrated specific events just so I will be forced to think again of what Easter means.

Yesterday, I was listening to the local Christian radio station on my drive in to work. And the DJs said this, “blah, blah, blah, He came to save everyone, blah, blah, blah.” Everyone? Yes, everyone. Although most of us will speak this with our lips, believing it in our hearts is often more of a struggle than we would like to admit.

It’s easy to accept this premise when evil stays away. When the people who offend us are on the television, or across the ocean, or in another city, or maybe a distant memory of our past, it is easy – or maybe just easier – to accept. We can muster the grace to say, “Yes, He came for everyone. Even them.” Even the ones we despise.

But when evil and wickedness knock on our front door, or even worse, kick it down, push past the threshold and destroy what we hold dear, it is harder to remember. Sometimes, it seems impossible to be true.

It is then that I find myself asking these questions: Did you come to save the mean, conniving coworker? Even her? Yes, is the quiet whisper. What about the playboy who uses women for his own pleasure? Even him? Yes. And the crazy man who takes pleasure in scaring women and children? Even him? Yes. Surely, you don’t mean to save the abuser? The cheater? The liar? Even them? Yes. Yes. Yes. What about the brazen thief who violates the sanctuary to take what doesn’t belong to him? Yes. Just like the one who hung next to me on the cross. Oh! And have you come to save the woman who despises, judges and condemns in the secrecy of her heart? Even her? Yes, Beloved, even her. Especially her.

Erin, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god.” Romans 3:23   Yes, Lord, all.

My precious one, “it is by grace we are saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9   Yes, Father, grace.

Yesterday, I said, “I want to be THAT person. The one whose response to suffering shows not the anger and resentment and bitterness of my humanity, but instead the love and peace and grace of Christ.” And yesterday He gave me a chance. For small suffering. And slight offense. But a chance for my selfish, entitled, scared heart to look for His face in the midst of the suffering.

He says to that heart, “a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Erin, Beloved, I came to save you. And him. And her. And them. Forgive them, “not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22

When we come face to face with wickedness, our response ultimately must be one of forgiveness. Because we are no better than they. Sure, we may fight harder at times. But the truth remains that He came for each one of us. Each one of His children, whether we are for Him or against Him. We are all equally valuable to the Father. THAT is the mystery and the hope and the redemption and the glory of Easter.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

Hallelujah! He is Risen!

Help You? Help Me?

Is it always better to give than to receive?

A young girl and a young woman helping each other across the stream

Four times in the past two weeks I’ve come face to face with the topic of helping. Do you ask for or accept help when you need it?

My friend, Molly, is a pretty independent woman. She told me recently about how she experienced debilitating illness several years ago. Debilitating to the point that she could not remain independent. Debilitating to the extent that if she didn’t ask for help, she might not eat. Or work. Or even get out of bed. It was in this time of her life that Molly learned the importance of relying on, depending on, and needing others. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Sometimes it takes a hard hit to be convinced that we actually do need people.

Larry Crabb, author of the book Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy addresses this very concept. He starts with the following verse: “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~ Luke 18:17

In application, Crabb suggests that Jesus meant something like the following, “‘Nobody is more needy and has less to give than an infant…they are takers through and through, not only because they are selfish (though they are) but because they are helpless. Be like that! You are helpless, so admit it. Learn to receive what you cannot provide for yourself.'” He goes on to write, “The truth is we don’t much like being dependent. We don’t enjoy admitting how desperately we long for someone’s kindness and involvement.” Why is that?

Sometimes it’s about fear. The fear that if I ask, I will be rejected. And most of us don’t think that we can handle that. Or maybe it’s about perfectionism. We believe that others won’t complete the task to our standards. We elevate perfection above need. Or perhaps we don’t want to impose. We decide for others what they can and want to give. Centrally, we believe that we don’t deserve their help. Hmm.

Somewhere along the way we have been taught to believe that to need is weakness. And to be strong means we can do it all on our own. So much so, that we have developed a new word for it: “needy” – to be weak, pathetic, and less than.  I’m not sure where this came from, but I think we have it backwards. What if another reason we struggle to ask for or accept offered help has to do with vulnerability and consequently, humility?

When we accept that we are not designed to meet all of our own needs, we can embrace our limitations. We realize in the depth of our soul that we will never be enough. That we must rely on another, actually, many others, to survive in this difficult world. And on a soul level, to experience our deepest needs has the ability to point us to the only ONE who can meet them.

Crabb says, “we DESPERATELY LONG for someone’s kindness and involvement.” Sigh. I believe that is true. The cry of our heart is to be loved. And yet we are afraid to make that known. But the Good News is that choosing to have the courage to ask for what we need can bring us the blessings we hope for in this life.

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Ah, the courage and the blessing.

Do you love to help others? Do you find pleasure in doing for little ones, disabled ones and old ones what they cannot do for themselves? Do you experience joy in using your talents to help someone who struggles? If so, consider that you are depriving someone else of that same joy by not making your own needs known.

And my friend Molly? All these years later, Molly looks for people like her – those who need help and don’t ask. She finds great joy in giving because she knows the blessing of receiving. Last month Molly’s friend called and thanked her for babysitting when she went through a terrible divorce – seven years earlier. There’s no statute of limitations on gratitude. Molly knows the depth of it.

Like the little child, we are all helpless.

What keeps you from asking for help? Do you have another reason other than what is written here? Have you learned how to ask for and graciously receive help?