Learning to Ask for What You Need
Can we begin this post by agreeing that one of the most difficult things for any of us to do is to ask for help? Maybe it’s something in the DNA of the human race that insists on independence and self-sufficiency. I seem to recall all three of my toddlers telling me frequently, “Mommy! I do it!”
Just like those independent 2-year-olds, we often have an over-inflated idea of our own capabilities. But we just can’t seem to help ourselves! Something in us drives us to think we can do “it” on our own. Obviously, we know better than the one trying to give us directions and/or help us!
As I pondered on this a bit…remember that I think a lot? … I realized that this was the root problem way back in the Garden of Eden! God gave some very clear instructions regarding which trees in the Garden were safe to eat from, and which should be avoided. But did those first humans pay attention?! No!! They thought they knew better, exerted their independence (free will) and made what they thought were more logical decisions. We see how that all turned out for everyone!
Since that day in the Garden of Eden, God has been at work in every one of our lives gently nudging us towards the pathway that He knows will be best for us. Sometimes we’ve been listening carefully, acted obediently, and seen wonderful results in our lives. Other times, well, we thought we knew better, made our own choices, and reaped the harvest that came with them! Jeremiah 29:11 says this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Our Heavenly Father knows precisely what will be best.
By now, you may be agreeing but still asking what this has to do with being a widow? Plenty! Do you know that widows are notorious for NOT telling anyone when they need help with something? People can be very kind and thoughtful, asking if you’re doing okay or if you need anything. But what do we usually respond? “Oh, no, I’m fine really!” And all the while we’re at our wits’ end trying to figure out how to handle all the things that wonderful husband used to do. You know, things like getting the car serviced, buying new tires, keeping up with the yardwork, cleaning the garage! Or maybe we just could use a boost by someone coming to clean the house just so we feel like we’re somewhat caught up.
We think we can manage it all: housekeeping, job, vehicle and home maintenance, taxes and insurance, shopping and bill paying, yardwork, ministry, communications, and maybe a little self-care like exercise, eating, and sleeping thrown in! The true fact of the matter is that there used to be two people to keep up on all those things. Now there’s only one of you to try to do what two people used to do. It’s just a total impossibility!
When we come to this realization, we’re faced with a couple of options. We can continue to struggle with it all alone, trying to convince ourselves that we can manage…and continually feeling like we’re failing. The second option is to eliminate some things. But what will they be? It all needs to be done…or not. Maybe the house isn’t quite as clean as it used to be, or you run the dishwasher once a week instead of once a day. Maybe the flower beds are full of weeds. But, hey, they bloom too! Just pretend they’re prairie grasses and wildflowers!
Our third option is to die to our pride and ask for help. Remember all those people at the funeral who said, “Let me know if you need anything?” or “Call me if you need help with anything?” Maybe now is the time to give them a call, just to get you to a better place of a little less stress.
The Scripture is full of “one anothers”. Here are just a few of the more than 100 references that instruct us how to relate to each other.
- Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Stir up [provoke, stimulate] one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
- Employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another (1 Peter 4:10)
We would all agree that these are wonderful Scriptures, and that we try to be obedient to them in our daily walk with Christ. We feel so fulfilled and good when we’re able to care for or serve someone or encourage them and help bear their burden. We love to talk to others about how they can use their spiritual gifts…to help someone else, not me. But wait! How will they fulfill these “one anothers” if I consistently refuse to allow them to serve or help me? Now, there’s a thought!
Perhaps the problem doesn’t have much to do with others not wanting to help as it does with me not wanting to humble myself, stomp on my pride and independence, and admit that I need help! Pride is one of those things God hates because it leads us to separation and isolation rather than relationship and community.
Here are three simple steps you can take to help you learn to ask for help:
- Make a list of those people who have offered to help you that you haven’t called upon. You already know that they are willing and waiting for your call. You know who is truly sincere, and although you may need to work around their schedule, they will be there for you.
- Have specific things in mind that you need help with. Do you need someone to take your car to get serviced? Do you need something repaired in your home? Do you need specific help with yardwork? No one likes to have their time wasted.
- Make the call and ask humbly for help. Ask God to help you humble your heart and subdue your prideful independence. (BTW, don’t assume that everything will be done for free. Offer to pay if you can, or trade for something you can help them with.)
Is this easy for you to do? Have you had positive or negative experiences in asking for help? There’s no shame in recognizing that you’re not able to keep up on everything yourself. Ask for help and everyone will be blessed!
Your thoughts and comments are welcome. Please subscribe to this blog and share with your friends who would be encouraged! You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org