I may be allergic to the act of having to ask for help. The thought of having to do it makes my heart race and my chest tighten, as I think of all the reasons the person I might ask has to “no.” I know they are busy; I can think of how many things they probably have to do already and decide for them, no way can you take a moment to help me out – how embarrassing of me to have even thought of asking!
My allergy was confirmed just this week, when I did, in fact, need some help.
It had been a good idea when I arrived at the park to meet my small group — taking my key off the key ring with the intention to tie it up in my shoelace as we sat, so then it would be ready when the sun set and heat dropped and I went for a quick run. No keys to hold onto while running; I’ve done it a zillion times.
You can see where this is going, right? Of course when we all convened, I forgot to tie the loose key onto my shoe; I didn’t even notice that it wasn’t in hand with my phone and water bottle – until it was time to go.
Suddenly the setting sun wasn’t my ally. The power of the phone flashlight didn’t seem as helpful as usual when I combed the grassy spot where we’d been sitting and retraced my steps across the park. Twice – thrice! I prayed a fervent prayer for rescue.
Then I noticed that as the parking lot had cleared out, a few cars remained – two of my friends were still there talking. I felt a little prompt in the calm deep within, “Just ask for help.” Oh no, will I need to ask for a ride? Ugh! It’s too far out of the way, there’s no way I’ll do that. Even if I did (!!) ask for that, what would I do about picking up the car? And home is in the opposite direction from where they’ll need to go. Again, “Just ask.” Um, no thanks, think I’ll just keep scouring the area with my little flashlight and a growing sense of helplessness. I can just as well do it myself! But again, “just ask.”
And here, I began to realize, yes, the Lord can work even in my tiny, self-inflicted tragedy – His ongoing work of bringing me to humility, breaking me out of my walls of imagined self-sufficiency. It’s a big work. It happens in a million tiny moments, just like this.
I crossed the park again, this time to say – out loud – “I need help!” Three flashlights and three pairs of eyes now in the game, barely five minutes later, they key was found – not by me, in the same area I’d already searched.
Recently, as my own dear mom has been discovering, when you let people into your need – even just telling them, matter of factly, as she did, “here it is: breast cancer” – kindness comes pouring in. Comments, prayers, kindness graciously given; proving that help – even without her having asked for it – is willingly given.
We are made in the image of a God who gives – even to the point of giving up his Son. We are made for helping, for laying ourselves down in ways big and small; most commonly, small. We often don’t even know how to ask for His grace when we need it, just like I didn’t know just to ask for help when I needed it. I thought I needed to ask for a ride across town; all I needed was to have friends along with me. Like Mom, who has gotten to witness the small miracle of being surrounded by support everywhere she goes, since she let everyone in. We will have plenty of times to pray that “rescue” prayer, but we never need to suffer alone.