Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why Asking for Help isn’t Cheating

Written by Kelly Bastian (and Matt Wooley)

At Hillside our mission is to encourage Christ-centered transformation by the Spirit. That means we want everyone to know how they can grow selflessly.  But that doesn’t mean everyone should grow alone.

I think there is a tendency--an unspoken one--for us to feel like asking for help is cheating... We should just know how to grow.  We should just be able to do that on our own.

But we all need help--God designed it that way.  We need others to encourage, to point out our blind spots with grace, to remind us of the gospel, to show us what the next step towards God might look like.

So I asked Kelly Bastian to write about asking for help from others.  Why is that hard for us? And why is asking for help definitely not cheating?  Here's Kelly:

When my two-year old can’t put on her own shoes, I expect her to ask for help.  When my five- and eight-year-olds struggle to get along with each other, you can bet that they come to me asking for help. When my middle schooler can’t make heads or tails of her math homework, I expect her to ask for help. So then, why is it, that when I have a particularly difficult week and feel like I’m engulfed in both the routine details of life and the added urgencies and uncertainties, that I have such a hard time asking for help?

That last question summed up my week. I planned to tell you all about how to ask for help and why we need to ask for help--for the benefit of our own growth and that of others--but then I pushed aside my own need to ask for help. I thought I could handle it all by myself. I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. And I was a disaster.

We were not meant to walk through this life alone. That may seem like a “well, duh” thing to say, but our prideful do-it-yourself culture emphasizes independence and strength, so admitting we need anything from anyone seems like dependence and weakness.

Over and over in the Bible we see how God not only wants a relationship with us, but that he has put us in relationship with others for our mutual benefit. David and Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. Paul and Barnabas. You and me.

Why is it so hard to ask for help? In my prideful and independent logic, I want to be the strong one. I want to have it all together (or at least appear that way). I don’t want to seem “needy.” Vulnerability is hard.

But here’s the thing: when I am forced to ask for help, or when I’m cornered at a desperate moment (caught with glassy eyes and a tissue in hand in the aisles of Target, ahem), I find such comfort and relief that I am no longer bearing my burden alone!  Vulnerability is worth it.

Not only that, but I often find that I’m not alone in my struggles. Having someone acknowledge that they have been where I am or are just willing to walk through it with me is like God putting flesh on and wrapping His arms around me.

And here’s the other thing: when someone comes to me for help, or when I offer (no refusal allowed), it feels like God is allowing me to be His arms or His messenger, and there is great honor and joy in that!  Vulnerability can bless others.

So who am I to deny that same privilege to someone else who would help me? I’m working on that. I’m asking God to help me work on that, too. Will you join me? We are here for each other, and in the helping we both grow.  Vulnerability is where growth happens.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." 
--2 Corinthians 12:9

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
--2 Corinthians 1:4

And here’s what I hope you will believe too: asking for help in the “spiritual things” of the Christian life isn’t cheating either.  Can you help me pray?  Can you share your story with me?  Can you meet with me for a while?  My faith is weak right now, will you speak truth to me? I am feeling stuck, how can I move closer to God and others right now? How have you handled this situation?

If you want to grow selflessly, inviting others into the process is a great idea!  Talk to your friends. Ask someone in your Community Group. Ask someone in church leadership to pair you up with someone. You don’t have to do it all alone.

Coming up on The Current:

  • The importance of nurturing your soul and intimacy with God as a Christian.
  • Is the Christian life more about being a disciple or making disciples?

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