I feel much more comfortable offering help than I do accepting it. I jump at the chance to provide carpool assistance, a warm meal or time with a friend who needs me. However, I do hesitate to ask for this type of help for my family or myself.
This thought became abundantly clear after our family suffered a devastating house fire this summer. (Full story here.) One day, we have a beautiful, safe home and hours later, 90% of our belongings and the entire interior of our home was destroyed. While our insurance agent was working on a place for us to sleep that night, neighbors, family and friends flocked to our side. Our phones blew up with concern and offers to help.
As firefighters worked on our home, a friend took our children out to lunch, shopping for swimsuits and off to the pool so they did not have to witness the destruction of their home. Our neighbors provided food and water for our family who came to our rescue that morning. They lent us phone chargers, chairs in shade, paper, pens, and stuffed animals for our children. As the days and weeks went on, friends, acquaintances and strangers helped us in ways we could have never predicted. We were grateful, humbled and candidly, quite uncomfortable.
You may ask, “Why did you feel so uncomfortable, when you were in such need?”
My husband and I were just not used to needing so much help. We were not used to accepting gift cards, cash, hours and hours of free babysitting, clothes, shelter, food, and anything you could imagine it takes to get a family of five with three small kiddos propped up for a few weeks…from fun kids’ bath soap, little girl hair detangler, coffee gift cards and something as simple as fresh fruit!
Many times, we tried to resist. We expressed our earnest appreciation but explained that we had insurance that would ultimately take care of everything. We tried to hand back envelopes and decline offers. We were so out of our comfort zone. Our supporters persisted. We would open our mail, and more help would find its way into our temporary home, our hotel room.
After a while, talking to friends who sincerely wanted to help demanded that we surrender and accept the help. We simply said “thank you” dozens and dozens of times. We pushed our pride aside and accepted help. We were embarrassed at first. Our pride was bruised. Needing that much help must mean we failed.
Isn’t that how we feel sometimes? If we need help, it must mean that we are less than…that we cannot do something well, that we cannot handle things as successfully as everyone else appears to. We have learned that this thought could not be further from the truth! Let’s look at this a bit differently.
Accepting helps means you are wise enough to recognize God’s helping hand in your life. My family was brought to our knees after the fire. However, we never felt alone. We believe God sent us our family, friends and neighbors to help us. By us accepting the help, we realize we can not go it alone. We MUST depend on God and our faith. We MUST realize we cannot survive alone. We were made to depend on God. Accepting a form of help is really more of a spiritual lesson and another step forward in our spiritual journey. It does not feel good to be vulnerable. However, God helps us when we most need it and only He knows what or who can lessen our load at that time. Why do we try to stop Him?
We were forced to surrender. And we are so grateful for those who joyfully demanded we accept their help and just say ‘thank you.’
This lesson is important for us all. How often, would we love help but never speak up because we do not want to bother anyone else? Often, people genuinely WANT to help. They want to feel purposeful, useful, they care about you and truly desire to lessen your load. Sometimes when we refuse to ask or accept help, we rob those we care about of the opportunity to do what God may be urging them to do.
Where could you really use some assistance right now? Who could you ask? Will you let down your guard, be vulnerable enough to accept the help that others are so willing to give?
I encourage you to identify ONE request for help that you can make this week. Could you really use a babysitter? Carpool? Help getting organized? A companion? Would a coffee visit with a dear friend lift your spirits? Might your family benefit from a nice meal? Want to ask that special person for advice even thought they are so busy? Prayerfully consider what God is trying to send your way today and surrender. Give yourself permission to accept that help!
*This photo is from the text that my friend, Karen, sent after I reached out to her, venting that I was so overwhelmed by the to do's on my list, including prepping for a keynote program, amidst this fire mess. God knew I needed a laugh and put Karen in my path. I reached out to her and she certainly helped me to lessen my load that day.
Copyright 2015 Meg Bucaro.
Photo "Help" by lesniakwoodlandacre (2013) via Flickr. All rights reserved.
Phone screen shot copyright 2015 Meg Bucaro. All rights reserved.
About the Author
As a college instructor, wife to “the Hubs”, Mom of three energetic children and a highly skilled PB&J sandwich maker, Meg shares the ups and downs of Motherhood in her candidly humorous writings and speaking programs. To learn more about how Moms can maintain a life with less stress and more peace by leaning on their Catholic faith, visit www.megbucaro.com.