Last week I was part of a group of guys that went to pray for a lady who had been diagnosed with cancer. While we were there I caught myself thinking, “I wonder how she feels to have all these people pitch up at her house and pray for her?”
In theory, asking others for help should be easy enough, but sometimes, it isn’t.
This was brought my attention just a day after praying for the lady with cancer. For the last few days, I have had a sore neck and I have battled at times to turn or bend without it being painful. It started last week, went away and then came back on Sunday.
I took painkillers at various intervals throughout the day and hoped that it would go away by the afternoon when I was on duty to facilitate our evening service at church. It didn’t go away and I ended up asking on our chat group if anyone could do the facilitation for me. In the end, our pastor did it, but I realised through the process that I am really bad at asking for help.
I mean really bad. It took a lot of effort to type the message I sent and, even as I type now, I still have feelings of guilt because I burdened someone else with my responsibility.
But I know what a blessing it can be to help others, so why is it so hard to let others help me?
I think the obvious answer that many jump to is pride. I think sometimes my issue is pride. Like when I want something done a particular way and I feel like if anyone else does it, it won’t be good enough. But here I’m really talking about letting others help me with something personal that I’m going through, not necessarily helping me do something physical. I admit, there’s still an element of pride involved, but I think there is more to it than just blaming pride.
For some, I think the issue is giving up control. When you hold onto your problems, you can manage them. You can decide how everything will go, ranging from who knows what, to how things are dealt with. Surrendering this control to others and allowing them in requires a great deal of trust. Questions like these are quick to jump to mind:
- What will they think?
- Will they still like me?
- What if they tell others?
- What good will it do anyway?
- What will they want in return?
If I think back on the times when I’ve had my trust broken I realise that sometimes I do not ask others for help because giving up control and trusting them has resulted in hurt or embarrassment in the past. It’s not that I don’t want help, I do, it’s just that I don’t want to go through the heartache of it all so I play my cards close and keep to myself.
Thankfully, in the last four years, as I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord, I have allowed myself to open up to others. That doesn’t mean I’m naive. Matthew 10:16 says “So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” I’m still careful to guard my heart, but I’m also not being cynical and building walls to hide behind.
Another thing I struggle with when asking for help is that I do not want to burden them with my stuff. I know how busy everyone is, so to ask someone to take time out for me seems like a bit much. It’s almost like I’m saying to myself, “This problem isn’t that big. Surely you don’t need to bug somebody for this?” The thing is though, it is often those little things that turn into big things, so it’s better to ask when the issue isn’t actually an issue yet. Now I’m not suggesting that we pester each other with all the little niggles. You’ll know the things that are just that, little niggles, versus the things that are starting to burden your heart.
One other thing that bugs me about asking for help is that I really dislike being the center of attention. Thank you’s in front of a room full of people and even happy birthdays can seem a bit extravagant to me. So to avoid this I think the best way to seek out help is to do it quietly. Ask the person you approach to keep it between the two of you. Ask them to check with you before getting other people involved.
Something for the people who are uncomfortable asking for help:
1. Ask anyway.
If you have ever helped anyone else you know how much of a blessing it can be to them and to you. Don’t deprive people of that opportunity.
I will bless those who bless you. Genesis 12:3 (NLT)
When someone offers you help, or maybe a compliment or a gift, accept it as if it were a direct blessing from the Lord. In doing so, you will be blessed, but God will bless those who have blessed you too.
2. Letting others help you allows you to know them better.
In the process of receiving help, you will also chat with each other. You will learn things about the other person, and they about you. This helps to form and strengthen relationships.
3. It is a direct assault on that last bit of pride you’ve been holding onto so tightly.
I know its hard. I know you actually love the control. I do too. But I know that you know that it’s actually not healthy.
We know that God resists the proud, so pride is clearly something we need to ditch. Do it gently. Bring it to God. Tell Him how tough it is and trust people anyway.
Something for all those who have no problems with asking for help:
1. People who struggle to ask for help have probably been hurt in the past. It’s not easy for them to just “trust again.”
2. People who struggle to ask for help are likely to be an introvert. It’s not easy for them to just “ask for help.”
Beth Buelow of the Introvert Entrepreneur posted this quote on Facebook:
“I am an introvert. That means that when I’m feeling down, chances are that I won’t actually go to you for help. In fact, I won’t go to anyone for help. You’ll have to actually check on me. I don’t feel that I should burden others with my problems, but if you come to me, I might just trust you enough to let you help.”
In either case, go to them and offer help. Philippians 4:2 says:
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to help those in need. Even if it means being gently persistent with a person who insists that they’re ok.
How are you asking for help? What kinds of experiences have you had that made you realise that as hard as asking for help can be, it’s ultimately rewarding?