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?