I have something very heavy on my heart that seems to be a universal issue among many women in my life, no matter where they are in life. (It is probably just as big of an issue for men, but I cannot speak to that or the reasons behind it). The issue is: asking for help.
Why is this so incredibly hard? Why do most the women I know prefer to run themselves into the group before they will ask for help? Where did we get this idea that it is better to be exhausted, irritable, and even depressed than have someone else just help us? Even if it is something small for them, like making a meal? I have known several women this fall and in the past month or so who have had seriously difficult and draining situations...and yet they wait until the last second to ask for help. I have some thoughts on why.
1. We don't want to seem weak. I have another "why?" here. Who says asking for help makes you weak? For example, with my two little ones, last spring I needed to have help in order to get anything extra done around the house. I wanted to have my windows, window sills and baseboards (the extra stuff) cleaned before my parents came to visit. I put it out on facebook to pay someone and a number of deaconesses from our church came to do it for free. It was a fun afternoon where I got to know some of the women leaders in our church better and they felt blessed by being able to help me. Now, how in the world did asking for help during that time make me weak? It wasn't even a real necessity, but it still didn't make me any weaker asking for the help. And, as I said, it ended up being a blessing to both parties.
2. We want to be in control. Does this statement resonate with anyone? I suspect it might. I know a lot of amazing, wonderful women who don't want to give up control for a second. Especially about their children. Especially about their house! But, however uncomfortable this may make you, just sit with the thought for a second, that it might be better for you, your children and your house if you were willing to accept help when it was offered. Sometimes my children have the most fun at another person's house with other kids to play with. Sometimes it's okay to let someone else come in and help, even if they do it a different way. And, as unpopular as this next statement is, I have news for you: we aren't really in control of things anyway. There are only two things we can control: our minds and our actions. That's it. We can't even control our own bodies. When was the last time you were able to tell your body not to get tired and have it work? Or not to get sick? Also, one thing that really shocked me when I first had children is that we can't control them for a second either! :) You have the least control over a newborn. You can't make them sleep, eat, stay awake, stop crying, poop, not poop, or anything! As a person who has really struggled with trying to stay in control and have things a certain way (Benjer exaggerates a little when he says everything in our house is labeled, but only a little ;), I have been blessed by such freedom by learning to let go a little and let someone else bless me when I need it.
3. Pride. Yep, I said it. We are first and foremost very selfish, prideful people by nature. (If you don't agree with this, then I encourage you to check out any toddler nursery room and see how many children are freely offering toys to share and saying, "no, no, you go first." You won't find it. You will see many 2 year olds insisting certain toys are "mine" or insisting "my turn first" with toys that belong to none of them). I encourage you to slay your pride and let someone else bless you the next chance you get. It may sound like an excruciating exercise, but I have found that it also brings freedom and understanding. Proverbs 11:2 states, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
One of the biggest problems with not asking for help, is we miss out on letting other people feel blessed. Letting someone else help us is not just a blessing for us, it blesses the other person, sometimes even more. Think about the times that you have been able to help out a friend who was in the hospital or had a really sick child. Didn't you feel good knowing you could do something? Didn't it feel great to know you helped? Doesn't it also feel pretty frustrating and crummy when you feel like you can't help, or they won't let you? This is how others feel, too. Some people truly, honestly love to clean (not me :). Others love to cook (me!). Others love to garden or bring a gift. Whatever they can do, certainly everyone loves to feel the blessing that comes from being able to be useful and needed. There is almost no greater gift, because it tells them that you:
1. Love them, like them or care for them
2. You trust them
3. They are needed and/or wanted.
These are very important things for the people in your life to feel.
A year ago we had just brought home our newborn, Samantha, from the hospital after a month long stay in Primary Chidren's Hospital for a rare condition that the Lord miraculously saved her from. During the month she had been in the hospital, we did only the bare minimum of laundry, mail and housekeeping, and now it was Christmastime! Benjer and I had to swallow some pride, give up a LOT of control and perhaps seem weak to some (although I do not have any reason to think that is true) in order to get through the bills, have a clean home and give our children a good Christmas - Samantha's first! People gave us money so we could buy christmas presents, a good friend sent us 100 stamps so we could send Christmas letters out, the same good friend had our birth announcements made, and people offered to help with anything else we needed. We even invited ourselves over to some good friends' house for Christmas dinner because I could not imagine trying to make a nice meal on that day.
So, I have had to ask for a lot of help in the recent past and know that it can be hard. But, the alternative is living in exhausted fear of what other people may think, while believing we have control, and not giving the blessing to others who want nothing more than to do something nice, and feel wanted and useful.