When I was pregnant with our first child Peter and I both went along to antenatal classes with the idea of learning something about what was ahead of us. Probably the one and only thing that I can remember is the midwife telling us that husbands need to be asked to help – they are willing but they won’t see it. She claimed that they’ll step over, walk around or move the laundry basket before they think that maybe you need help folding whatever was in the basket. I think her comments stuck with me because they weren’t pulling down or criticizing the men, she was actually pointing out a weakness in the women. We are inclined to think people can read our minds and see that we are drowning in the laundry (or whatever is overwhelming us) – and if they don’t then we quickly take on the martyr syndrome and poor us!!
The thing is – we can’t always do everything and we do need to ask for help.
Over the years I’ve asked for help in different ways from different people.
—When my kids were little I asked Peter if he could take the kids out of the house once every 4-6 weeks so I could have a day of rest and pottering. He then started what we called MDO’s – Mother’s Day Off. He would take them out for the morning till after lunch, bring them home for their naps and then they would watch a DVD (to be honest it was a video in those days!) then we’d have take-away for dinner. I would potter in the morning, and create in the afternoon. It was a solution that worked for us, for a season.
—When my daughter Nomi was sick as a baby I remember family friends regularly bringing a meal to share to our house. It was hard for me to bundle every one up and go to their house or cook for them if they came to our house, so they brought dinner to us. It didn’t really matter where we were – their house or mine the important thing was that we didn’t let go of visiting while I went through a crazy busy and emotionally demanding season.
—I’ve asked my prayer partner to stand with me when I was overwhelmed with an issue or confused with choice.
—I’ve asked my kids to be quiet so I can have a nap.
—I’ve had someone come to clean my house (paid job) to get me through a season.
—I’ve had someone do my ironing (still pay my kids if they want to do my ironing!)
—I’ve brainstormed solutions to homemaking, parenting or relationship issues with my mum.
We all need help in different ways in different times of our life. The question is will we ask for it.
It is always so much easier giving help than receiving it. I remember being 3000km away in Perth and we had left our kids with friends. In the middle of meetings we received a phone call that Naomi had extreme pain and had to go to hospital. I knew she would be fine, she just needed a drip and painkillers (we’d been here before), but other people had never had to look after her before. It was very humbling to be on the receiving end of such wonderful help.
Asking for help is a matter of reality – recognising our own weaknesses and acknowledging that we need others. Asking for help is all about being honest – and that starts with those who are closest to us – our husband.
I flipped through various character traits to consider what character trait will help me to ask for help and I think the one that is most relevant is courage. Courage is being brave enough to do what you should do even when you are afraid*. I think this goes right to the heart of why we don’t ask for help – we are afraid to not be in control of things around us, we are afraid of what others will think, we are afraid no-one will understand, make light of it or judge us. Fear stops us from being honest with our husband, with our friends, or even with ourselves.
For me, I never get courage to do the right thing from just giving myself a pep talk. True courage comes from being honest with God, besides He already knows the state of your laundry, your to-do list, your homeschooling, your relationships. He is waiting there for you to be honest with yourself and acknowledge your need of Him and He is ready there to help.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7
I think of the story of Esther – she needed help. Not only that, she needed the Kings help. But she didn’t rely on her natural assets; she spent days in prayer to her God first. God gave her wisdom, He gave her a plan, He gave her words to speak – and the courage to do what was right. I think this is relevant for us today as well.
If we take our feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, or scared to God, ask Him for help – I am convinced (as He is a God that does not change), I am convinced that He will give you wisdom, a plan and the words to speak as you go to those around you and ask for help.
*Character definition by www.familytimes.org
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