Four Signs It's Time to Ask for Help
If you’re like me, you struggle to ask for help. I resist the vulnerability of admitting my needs. I feel that if I can handle something, I should. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, and I hate to spend a penny on tasks I can do. Lately, though, I’ve been realizing that sometimes accepting help makes a lot of sense.
To discern whether we need help, we’ll want to carefully weigh the unique factors surrounding a decision. I’ve indentified four clues that it’s time to reach out.
I suspect that an expert could dig up more information than I can.
Recently, I sat outside the tax office perusing an old tax return, my divorce settlement, and an audit letter from the IRS. The IRS wanted to collect on alimony they thought I hadn’t reported. Trouble was, I wasn’t even divorced during the months they were questioning. It seemed simple enough – all I had to do was copy my settlement and write a short letter explaining the situation. Why pay someone else to do it? But I’d heard horror stories about IRS audits, so I kept my appointment.
The tax expert slowly and thoroughly read my documents. He detected phrases and sentences that I would never have noticed. He noticed potential wording issues that the IRS might question. He had access to a myriad of detailed laws, and he deftly compiled the facts into a compelling response to the IRS. By the end of my appointment, I felt relieved that I hadn’t attempted this one myself.
I sense something is wrong, but I feel no one can help.
Sometimes, we think a situation is beyond help. One of my children suffers from allergies. Each time he had a new allergic reaction, the doctors’ response was the same: “It’s hard to pinpoint. Take some Benadryl.” Lately, my son’s fatigue had greatly increased. Changes to diet helped somewhat, but my son wasn’t thriving. In my state of learned helplessness, I believed we just had to live with it. I felt powerless.
I took him to a nutritionist, who administered a routine urine test. It revealed that his fatigue was not due to allergies, but to a life-threatening auto-immune disease! The nutritionist’s skill had delivered an answer, despite my sense of hopelessness.
Thankfully, this disease is manageable. I’m unspeakably grateful for the nutritionist and the doctors, whose care guided my son back to vibrant health. If we’re feeling helpless, it’s time to reach out.
The task is accomplished better and faster by someone with the appropriate gifting.
I used to take a cavalier attitude toward everything that broke around the house. “Let’s look it up!” I’d suggest. “How hard can it be?” I wanted my children to learn repair skills. However, there’s a reason God gave different talents to everyone.
One of my goals as a parent is to help my kids excel in their talents. I try to limit the time and energy we spend on unrelated tasks. My kids and I have learned to use a power drill and hammer, and we handle many small repairs. Theoretically, we could probably learn to fix major household items, too. But honestly, we aren’t gifted in this area, and bigger projects would detour my kids from pursuing their main passions. These monster projects simply aren’t worth the time.
Our front door is a slider. For months, it grated harshly along its runner, gradually becoming harder to move. One Saturday morning, it would not budge. I knew from experience that this type of repair could wreck our day. If we attempted it, my kids and I would likely end up exhausted and crabby in a house with no front door.
I decided to mention the situation on Facebook. One friend’s husband is a gifted contractor. He came by that very day, and presto – our door was back in action! Best of all, we saw community in action. My friends had supported me with their skills, and I had supported them financially.
I sense that my friends and I need community.
A good friend once advised me, “Part of humility is receiving love.” It’s true; pride often stops us from accepting help. Asking for help is both humbling and reassuring. Receiving from others reminds us that we’re not alone and gives others a chance to use their gifts in community.
Two days before Christmas, when my kids were little, we moved to our current house. Two of the kids were ill. The floors were unfinished, so I couldn’t arrange the furniture. I had no phone and the water coming out of the faucets was yellow. The weather was bad. The kitchen was torn out, so I couldn’t cook. “Oh well,” said my brave eight year old son. “I guess we won’t have Christmas this year.”
“Yes, we will,” I assured him.
My parents and several families had helped us move, but my most heart-warming memory is seeing one couple haul a Christmas tree through the piles of boxes and set it up under our skylight. That was one of our merriest Christmases!
We may hesitate to ask for help because we fear our request will be denied. It is a risk; but isn’t everything that’s worthwhile?
What prompts you to ask for help?