I remember the phone call very vividly. I was walking in my mom’s backyard, just praying, literally praying out loud that they would come. It was a HUGE ask, and I knew it – but I also knew I needed it. This wasn’t a “hey can you come help us move for one day” or “would I be able to borrow your truck” kind of phone call, although I have made both of those and am thankful for the yes’ I’ve received. This was, calling your wife’s best friend and college roommate, and asking her and her husband to pick up and move themselves across the country, from her childhood home, good jobs, and a family they loved – to live in our basement. That doesn’t sound like a very smart call, you say. Why on earth would anyone do that, you’re asking. And you’re right, if there had been odds in Vegas, I wouldn’t have liked mine either. But when your wife has just lost the second of two parents, and you’re having yourself what amounts to a nervous breakdown of sorts, you’re desperate, and so you pace in your mother’s backyard, praying loudly, and make the call.
When it comes to asking for help, there are at least two types of people in the world (obviously there are more, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just say these are the two we need to talk about). We all know them.
The first type, is the person, couple or family that asks for help all the time. Any time something happens, every time someone is sick, with each family event or situation in their life, an ask is made. A text is sent, a call is dialed, a plea goes out on social media, because they need help. You’re probably thinking of your “person/people” right now. Every time the phone rings and you shear their voice, you’re wondering what they need this time. When you see the text alert with their name on it you avoid opening it because you’re sure it’s not going to be something easy. People ask you all the time – “why are you always helping them or doing things for them? Don’t they know how to do anything for themselves? Aren’t there other people out there who can help?” You know the answer might be yes, but still, when they reach out and ask you to jump, you’re in the habit of asking “how high?” I am sure for someone reading this, I am this person, and for that I apologize – sort of.
The second type of person though, they are completely the opposite. Self-reliant, they know how to do everything, you’ve never heard them ask for anything. Their social media accounts are filled with pictures of happy kids, romantic walks, and cozy fires. You can’t remember how many times you’ve offered or put yourself out there, and it seems like there is just never a need. When their name appears on the screen of your phone – the first thing that comes to mind is “huh, I wonder what I forgot to do?” Because you know there’s no way they’re calling for something else. A text message from them is usually filled with pleasant things and ideas about life that seem smart and logical. People are always saying to you – “you know who’s got it all together? Those people. They just seem to know what life’s all about!” And in many ways they really do. I am this person to no one. Of this I am sure.
Here’s the thing. If we polled one hundred people, I am betting that at least 99 would say that they’d much rather know or be the second type of person. No one wants to be tethered to people who bleed you dry of all your time, energy, ideas and joy. No one likes the “uh-oh” feeling that consumes you when contact is made. People don’t want to be avoided, talked about, or judged either. It’s the nature of being human – we want to PROVE our worth. At least, I know I do. The prevailing thought is that the first type of person is a leech, and eventually they’ll suck the life right out of you. EVERYONE wants to know and be the second type of person, right? That’s how it should be. Strong, self-reliant, and proud of it. Sounds good.
Except there’s this problem. No one, in the history of recorded time, has ever gone through life without needing something. No one. Kids get sick, pet’s run away, money runs short, jobs are lost and parents and spouses die. It’s an inevitability of life. People will all eventually NEED something. “Well duh” you say, “I already knew that, it’s obvious. What’s the big deal?” The deal is this. When people get in the habit of not sharing and not asking, they tend to, well… not ask. And suddenly you have a whole group of people thinking they are doing the “right thing” by trying to forage through this world alone. Grieving widows alone in their homes for weeks on end. Marriages falling apart while no one is the wiser or able to offer advice or support. Kids eating ramen noodles for dinner two weeks straight, all because we’re too afraid to ask for help. Suddenly it doesn’t sound so “right’ does it?
I would posit, that’s because it was never how we are intended to do life. We were created to ASK for help. From the very beginning, when God looked down and saw Adam, he knew, “this guy is going to need some help.” And so He gave it to him.
Genesis 2:18 (ESV)
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
But He didn’t stop there. Even after Jesus came, lived, died and was resurrected, God knew we weren’t going to be able to hack it on our own. And so, before He left, Jesus promised His followers something more.
John 14:26 (ESV)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
And just in case that wasn’t enough, God ask the Apostle Paul to use his words to remind us that God is most able to use us, when we admit our own weakness and ask for His help.
2 Corinthians 12:7–9 (ESV)
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
When I read all those (and more) – it sure sounds like God knows my need for help, and wants me to ask for it – more often than not.
My phone call that summer afternoon was many things – long, humbling and filled with tears, just to name a few. After it was over, things didn’t magically change or get better immediately, but a few weeks later, our house did get a little fuller. Giving up more than I will ever understand, our friends moved from two states away, into our basement and literally CARRIED us through the next several months of life. They stayed for over half a year. Putting their own marriage and lives on hold, just to help save ours. They will never know how much their love and support meant to us, and I will never be able to repay them for what they did. But do you know what the coolest thing is? They won’t even ask me to. I am sure if you talked to them, they’d smile and say “oh yeah, we were just Galatians 6:2-ing them.”
Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
In those months, they were Jesus to me, and to my wife – and for that I have no doubt they will receive their reward someday, if only in Heaven. But it never would have happened, if I hadn’t followed my gut (the Holy Spirit), and picked up my phone.
So I guess all I am trying to say is this; we are better together. As the person on the other side of you, I would rather have you ask too often than never at all. I would rather hear all about your cruddy marriage, sick kids, or dying parents, than to watch you suffer alone, and perhaps even fall apart. We need each other. Every single one of us. You are not immune. We are here for you. And we’re only a phone call away.