I come from a long line of strong women. Independent. Self-sufficient. Smart. Savvy. Talented. And did I mention independent? Yep. That’s us. Collectively, we’ve been through a lot, and our strength has served us well. We can accomplish quite a bit, all by ourselves. We put our minds to it, we focus, we tighten our belts, we put our shoulders to the wheel. We make things happen.
We are a force to be reckoned with.
And therein lies the problem. At least for me. Because all of that independence and focus? It’s tricky. The truth is there really is a lot I can get done — all by myself. I set my mind to it and before I know it, I think my strength and the strength of all those women who came before me is the only thing I need. I take a look at the track record, and I start patting myself on my own back, checking stuff off my to-do list, and tacking up gold stars on my chore chart. I start to think there’s nothing I can’t do on my own.
But — force or no force — life isn’t meant to be done on my own. And I wasn’t created for all this independence.
The longer I live, the more I recognize the really important things in life revolve around relationships. Relationships where I need you and you need me. Relationships God sets up because he knows — while I may be a force to be reckoned with — that force will only get me so far. I will reach my limit. The force will fail. I will need to (gulp!) ask for help, admit my limitations, and let someone help me across the finish line.
It’s true God is strong where I am weak. He builds me up where I waver. Sometimes, he does that in ways we consider supernatural. Other times, God gives me courage to admit I’ve reached my limit, I need help, I need you. And admitting that, my friend, is nothing short of a miracle.
How about you? Do you find it easy to let down your guard and ask for help?Leave a Comment
This is a hard admission! As I prepare to renew old friendships and create new ones with our next move, I’ll be thinking of your words and how we need give and take in our relationships.
Ah…peace to you as make the transition to a new home and new community.
This is one of the biggest places that Christian faith clashes with both culture and upbringing for me — independence and self-sufficiency are hard sacrifices to lay down on the altar. But admitting our need of God makes it easier to admit our need for His people, too. Christ is married to His Church; you can’t have one without the other — even though I’ve tried to!
There’s a modern proverb making its way around the interwebs these days. It says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This race we’re running takes time. It’s hard to remember that in a world where things keep getting faster and faster. I get confused and start to think “fast” is the goal.
You know it’s strange. I have no problem asking for the Lords help. For His guidance, for His love. But I do however find it difficult to ask for help from friends and family. I wonder why that is????
Isn’t that a strange phenomenon?!?! I totally get that! I’m the same way! (Not that I always go running to God right away, either. But, if I’m going to ask for help, I’m going to do it quietly — just between me and Him.)
I think I underestimate God’s use of the Body of Christ. I assume He’s going to work things out in secret. I skip right over the community and relationship part of this life of faith.
The thing I find difficult about asking for help isn’t because I’m strong and independent – though I may want people to think I am! – it’s that I just plain don’t want to be a bother. I often feel soul-crushingly guilty when I ask people for help. I have to get over that, though, because I am going to NEED a lot of help this summer! My little family is going to go through a transition and I know I literally can’t do everything on my own. I’m only one person with one pair of hands after all. 🙂
Yep. Me too. I think, “I don’t want to burden her with this.” And then I try to remember the times I’ve seen my friends and/or loved ones struggling and I felt so helpless, saying to myself, “I wish she’d let me help…”
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Margaret Polino Nicholas says
I have a very hard time asking for help except when it is critical. Then it’s still hard!
Oh, I feel the same way! The thing is, I have a pretty skewed perception of what is “critical.” I see other people in a tough spot and wonder why they don’t ask for help. But then, when I’m in the same or a similar situation, I think, “I can handle this,” while others are probably looking at me, saying, “Why doesn’t she just ask for help?!?!”
Margaret Polino Nicholas says
So true. Thanks
Beth Williams says
I, too, don’t like asking for help from friends–at least when it involves me. I do ask my hubby & pray about the situation.
My problem isn’t about relationships, it’s about knowing ALL the blessings I have and what others don’t have–seems hard, silly to ask for them to pray for another blessing for me.
Great Post! 🙂
OH, D, I think you just described this woman to a “T”. My history is such that if I didn’t take care of me, nobody would. So I got used to going it alone. I’ve had to unlearn so much as I rest in God’s love. It’s a beautiful thing. If not challenging at times 🙂
Laura, I relate to everything you say here. It wasn’t until I went through a major illness that I finally was open to asking for help, and even then it was so hard! I had to learn to rest in God’s love, too. Since I’ve been better, I constantly re-learn that. I fall into old habits that God wants me to “impress” Him with how hard I can work when He’s just asking me to admit I can’t make it through the day without Him. 🙂
Oh, the unlearning is difficult. It’s what we know, and what we believe is right and best. And then, we hear whisperings that perhaps there’s another way… I’m so thankful that God is gentle with us in the unlearning.
I do not let my guard down, my husband is the only person in my life that knows the most about me and my past. Even friends who I have known for 30+ years don’t know everything about me. I have had to do most things by myself since I was in my early 20’s. That is a part I am learning to deal with in Bible study now. People are way to judging, even if they call themselves “Christians”. Asking for help is something that is very foreign to me. Even now as we get ready to move “again” I am so use to people wanting me to conform to their time frames, not seeing that I too, have a life and things that need to be done in a timely matter. I am a empty nester, but I still don’t have time to waste on small things or fit into everyone’s time.
I’m new to this, RoseMary. This letting down the guard. It’s a scary thing to do, that’s for sure! And, I’ve moved a lot! Having moved so many times, I learned how to make it on my own. I made friendships, but they weren’t deep, because I knew I’d be off to the next place soon. It gave me the false idea that I really was enough for me. I didn’t even open up to my husband! Then, I fell into this (in)courage group and the women here have patiently loved me into the beautiful truth of sharing and doing life together. The first time I asked for help, I was SURE the earth would open up and swallow me whole and that everyone would stand around, pointing at the gaping hole and laughing at my misfortune. I could not have been more wrong. I’m praying for you as you move, my friend, and trusting God will meet you there.
Patricia (Pollywog Creek) says
I’ll climb up in God’s lap and beg for His help all day, but share my needs with others? Hard, hard, hard. I don’t want to be a burden or come across as a complainer – because hey, life is hard and I’d could complain every day, and then I’d I’d have no friends. I do have a couple of close friends that I can and have called on…but I’m usually at the very end of my lifeline when I do. Love this post, Deidra. Good, good words.
I wonder why I think my friends will drop away so easily? One of the most beautiful examples of friendship in the bible is the one between Jonathan and David. I read those passages in the bible and they seriously make me cry. Out loud! And then I remember that Jonathan’s father was trying to kill David! Now THERE’S a reason to sever a friendship if ever I heard of one. Friendship is a stunning gift; it endures even the most difficult trials.
Yep, yep. I don’ t need help that often with things anymore–my needs are emotional and it’s often that I need this kind of help. I think I’m weak in this area, and I’m hyper-sensitive to people perceiving me this way, so I hide it and even when I do show my needs and my emotional weaknesses to someone, then I feel awfully guilty afterwards, for laying all that on them. I wrote about this just this morning in my journal. I’m emailing you today, lovely (((Deidra))). Ha! Love you!
Yes! The guilt! Oh my gosh, sometimes, after I ask for help, I lay awake all night feeling guilty for being an imposition. So, one night I lay awake because I NEED help, and then I lay awake the next night because I actually ASKED for help! As my friend Michelle would say, “For the love!”
Perfect for me – for TODAY. Yes, I’m a strong woman too…more independent than I used to be. That’s good. He’s working on that. 🙂
Yesterday I took a HUGE step of faith, and am completely reliant on Him to complete what He wills. A good first step. 🙂
Love your heart for what makes Him smile!
Yay for first steps! Those are often the trickiest…and the biggest!
It has only been over the last couple of years that I’ve realized my independence can actually be a weakness in at least two areas of my life: My marriage and my relationship with God. I’m a work in progress for sure, and this is a special area of focus for me. Glad to know I’m not the only one!
I definitely think independence is a good thing in many instances. As they say, however, everything in moderation. When my independence gets in the way of my relationships — with God, in my marriage, with my friends, in the Body of Christ — I know I’m starting to build up walls.
Amanda R says
Asking for help is one the hardest things for me to do. I struggle with showing my weakness to other people. I always feel like the person that people can turn to for help in a time of need that when the roles are reversed I feel that it’s wrong and I sometimes feel embarrassed. I know that it’s not how God wants me to react or feel and it’s something He and I talk about daily.
Embarrassment is such a big deal for me, and it keeps me from being authentic with my friends. Just the other day, I admitted my need for prayer to a group of my friends. I was SO afraid to share with them because I didn’t want them to know this embarrassing thing about me. So, I shared it and they were totally cool about it! I think embarrassment is one of the main obstacles to true community.
I just posted about this this morning with the video from 1992 of the gentleman than hurt his hamstring during a race but got up and hobbled to the finish line with the help of his dad. Help is the hardest thing to ask for but none of us can do it alone! Thanks for the reminder!!
I thought about that video as I was writing this! It’s such a cool image for this topic!
Julie Sunne says
Right there with you, Deidra! It must be an issue for me as well because I keep writing about it :). The lure of pride. Thanks for a great post.
Paula McLane Jennings says
I had to learn to ask for help out of necessity. When I was 24 years old I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (probably in part from all the years of over-doing everything and letting myself become run down). Today, I ask for help when I need it, don’t usually get what I need and a lot is left undone – at least in terms of chores and things of that nature. The thing that was even harder than learning to ask for help was to learn that it was truly OK to say no when I wasn’t able to do everything for everyone else. And, yes, Codependent is my middle name.
Saying no. Well, we could probably write a book about that, huh? 🙂
I can so relate to every word! Strength and an independent spirit can be good … and they can keep us from relying on our Abba, Father.
I seriously love this comment! You have summed it up so perfectly! And…we forget that God often uses people who love us, to help us out. Yes, and amen!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I was raised to be very self-sufficient…that was until the first time I majorly came to the end of my own rope. I knew I needed a Savior. Over the years I have learned the true meaning of Christ being the vine and me being the branch and apart from Him I can do nothing! His force within me is greater than any force I could muster up on my own!
It’s so true. Greater is He that is in us…
I have a friend who often struggles. She has been through some seriously tragic times. Through that, she’s learned to lean hard on God, and He has been so faithful to her. Sometimes, though, I see her struggling and I ask her how I can help. She always says, “I’ve got Jesus and that’s enough.” There are times her answer leaves me feeling so helpless. I want to say, “Yes, I know you have Jesus, but I can get you some groceries if you need them…”
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Great point…by being either self-reliant or totally God-reliant, we are robbing our friends of an opportunity to be God’s hands and feet – by serving/helping us! I think you have your next post 🙂
It is absolutely the hardest thing in the world to ask other people for help. But, honestly, I never have a problem asking Him for help. I know He’s always there for me. In my most independent moments, it is probably all Him.
I’m seeing a theme here. And I have that same theme going on in my life. I can ask God, easily. It’s other people I don’t dare tell when I need help. Makes me think of that old joke where a man got flooded out of his house and sat on his roof, praying to God to help him. A helicopter came, but the man said, “No, I’m waiting on God. He’ll help me.” A guy rowed by in a boat, but the man said, “No I’m waiting on God. He’ll help me.” He got restless and said to God, “When are you going to help me?” And God said, “Well…I sent a helicopter, and I sent a boat…” Yep. That’s me. Sitting on the roof. 🙂
Barefoot Hippie Girl says
It is a balance between independence and community and “not being a burden.” Being raised in the “not being a burden” category, it is very hard for me to ask for and accept help. Grace…to myself and to others…
Grace, indeed. Grace, indeed.
Ann van says
It is one of the enemy’s biggest lies to convince us that”we would just be burdening others” when we need support and help. I have found it freeing for others as well, when I admit I need prayer/help.
Having said that, there is also a balance to be achieved, not by my own independence, but in focusing on the Lord, and not the problem. When I am at my weakest, there is power in praise!
I like the point you make about how asking for help — being vulnerable — sometimes gives others a bit of breathing space. I know when people let down their guard around me, it gives me permission to do the same. Thanks, Ann van!
I have two “loner” types for parents. My mother would never dream of admitting that she needed anyone for help. That’s a hard mantle to shake off. I know God puts those along my path when I need them, but that pride that I can do it myself…no matter how broken, how many tears. The threat of gossip (I live in a small town) hovers. We left the small town church because of that. Now we’re in BIG church, and we’re just a part of the crowd. The safety of annonymity is a lonely place to be.
I totally get this! It’s a journey, and there is no need to rush it. Sometimes a little bit of anonymity is just the thing I need, so that I can find my footing and get some focus. It takes time…
Nasreen Fynewever says
Courage to admit.
I find it more natural to let my guard down the more I watch other people do it and meet community. I thought the “force” within me got me just as much goodness as doing life with people. I was wrong. The more I let people in, the more I see, like you, how short of goodness I really was. Relationships have grown my heart immensely and in that, shown me parts of Christ and wholeness I had not known before.
Thanks for your words, Deidra.
Watching your heart grow is a beautiful gift to me. You are shining SO brightly!
Kelly Greer says
Hi Deidra! I just wrote about reaching limits on Facebook today. Thank you for the reminder that others help us reach beyond our limits!
We definitely need each other!
Ah, Deidra, I won’t ask for help unless I am about at my end. At the other end, I really do believe in community and that is so important for our health. When we look at healing, at recovery from stress, at how we do live a long life, we can’t separate that from community. So perhaps I believe in it, I just don’t practice it!
Wow, what an important insight into all the ways community enhances our lives! And practice. It’s key. Just like riding a bike, I guess. Difficult to find that sweet spot and balance on those two wheels. But we keep at it, and before we know it — “Look ma! No hands!”
Diane W. Bailey says
Deidra, I think we have been cut from the same cloth! I am struggling with that same issue,
“I can do it myself” I go through this from time to time. And today, I have been asking him what he wants me to do, and where am I to wait on him. Not fun, but always rewarding! Love you, girl! ~Di
“I can do it myself!” Oh yeah. That’s me. SMH. 🙂
Love you, too!
This post hit home! Independence, community and Jesus! I love it! When I left education(early retirement) to begin my craft business, I knew I would need the Lord to see my dream come true. I couldn’t do it, by myself. I also needed all of my sister-friends, from all walks of life, to help me get a grip on this budding idea. However, I didn’t know how much I would depend on them to use and critique my products. When you think about it, that’s asking a lot of your friends and friendship. But, all of the love, dependence and camaraderie came shining through. I am fiercely independent and it took a lot for me to LISTEN to their suggestions. I love my sister-friends! All of us are independent, but when push comes to a shove, we become a close-knit group, building upon each other’s strengths. I wouldn’t trade them, for anything and we are always welcoming more independent women into our circle. WE NEED EACH OTHER! Thanks, for this outlet, Deidra!
It sounds as if you’ve built a beautiful community. You’re right — we DO need each other!
pamela t. says
Maybe we’re distant cousins, Diedra?!?! :0) I come from the same kind of powerhouse and support system and I always thought that it was glorious until I got a little older and realized that I had been practicing independence so strongly and for so long that I really didn’t know how to effectively depend on others and worse, I thought that it was a sign of weakness. My independence had also produced a terribly prideful woman. Then I got married to a wonderful man who found it attractive that I was so strong, sweet and independent when we were boyfriend/girlfriend, but not so much once we became husband/wife and his charge was to love me as Christ loves the church and mine was to submit . . .yikes. I’ve grown in this area but I still struggle, daily, with humbling myself . . .
Girlfriend, you are singing my song! Have you been reading my journal?!?! Seriously. Same story. Yikes is right!
Deidra, I can’t tell you how this ministered to my desire to get it done, do it right, and do it my way in my time. Sometimes, the very thing I cling so desperately to (independence) is the very thing that proves to be my undoing. And sometimes, it’s in only in my failure that I’m able to see how much I need Him. And others. Thank you for this.
I live in a part of the country that lays claim to the phrase, “Git ‘er done!” It’s all about bootstraps and work ethic around here. There’s not much asking for help that goes on. We are pioneers, gosh darn it! So believe me, I hear you. I know how hard it is to let all that go, throw up your hands, and whisper, “Help…”
I also come from a long line of strong, independent women. As a young wife my great grandmother lost her husband to influenza during the Great Depression. My Grandmother raised six daughters alone working as a nurse’s aide. After all five of her children were in school, my mother went to work to help my father with expenses. The women in my family gave my cousins and I a tough legacy to follow. But, they have also given us a legacy of a strong faith in God and a strong relationship with each other. The ‘sisters’ still get together every year for a sister week.
A sister week?!?! Can it get any better than that?
I think so many of us have women in our families who lived through some seriously unthinkable stuff. The fact that they made it speaks volumes about their strength, fortitude, and — in many cases — faith. What a rich legacy we’ve inherited, huh?
thank you for sharing this…particularly today.
i have been fighting a “pity party” (i took on joyce meyer’s challenge to fast from pity parties for a year….i’m not doing so well!). God has privileged me to endure many trials in my life, and presently many all at once. i am okay with that. the “independent” me can do anything!!!! or so i always thought….until this last few years. i am physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually unwell. am i giving into it??!! no. this is what the world tells me (and my body!). but i can “rise” above it…i can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!!!
while ALLL of this is true, He never meant for us to do this rising alone….He has felt it best that other people in my life who have caused much angst, pain, hurt, disillusionment, be removed. i have no family, save my two beautiful daughters. but it is not there responsibility to help, hold up, be my “god in the flesh” people alllllll the time. so i have come to comPLETE surrender. for months!!! and have let down enough walls to ask for that help.
new struggles and challenges have arisen out of that. so called “friends” have not followed through (many times) on committments to help…outsiders also. so i have reached out to my church family as they have been wonderful in being support etc to others in our body. but, for some reason that only God knows, i am not among those who have been able to receive any. i am so trusting that God will help me not give in to this “pity party” knocking on my door…24/7. i CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He DOES supply all my NEEDS according to His riches in glory. i AM the head and not the tail…and on and on and on….
but what does one do when they have NO one (literally 0…..) that rises to the occasion to love, tangibly and emotionally??!! and stay out of a pity party and not allow bitterness and hurt to take root.
okay….just shared a large part of my burden…and that took all i have within me physically for the day!!
God’s blessings as we reach out to our brothers and sisters…may we be the ones to grab hold!!!
Thanks so much for sharing, Tara. It is a risk to ask for help, that’s for sure. And sometimes, the people on the other end drop the ball. I’ve done that. I’ve failed to step in when I knew someone was sinking. Or, I’ve stepped in and made things worse. Ugh. And, while this may seem trite or cliche, know that I am praying for you today. I’m praying you’ll know you’re not alone, and that the burden you carry will feel just a bit lighter today.
I’m talking on this exact thing with the ladies in our church soon. For me — the STRONG one – (and stubborn and prideful and and and …) dealing with a husband suddenly very sick brought me to a place where even if I didn’t ask for help could at least accept it. The biggest blessing was when my posse ( my husband’s name for them) ignored my “I’m fine” and brought the food, the cuddly socks, the chocolate. So my advice is when you can sense through the Spirit there is a need.. Follow that prompting. You (and your friend) will not be sorry.
Oh, such good words, Mynda! Thank you! Yes! Follow the prompting…
Mmmmm.,…MmmMmmmm…M! Do I ever know the front side and the bottom, top and back side of this force and what it feels like to be laid low so that I can reckon with and be embraced by the only true Power Source. Thanks Deidra.
I learned this in a big way recently when I broke my arm. All of a sudden, life changed and I was not able to much of anything. I was total dependent on other for driving, my daily chores, washing my hair, and even cutting my finger nails.
Sleeping at night was often a struggle. I remember one particular night when I had been awake for several hours. I was so very tired and felt helpless. As I lay on my sofa feeling sorry for myself. I suddenly reached my arms up in the arm and pictured myself reaching up to my Almighty Father’s arms, and Him taking me up into His lap and holding me close. I soon fell fast asleep. What an amazaing moment!
Another amazing thing happened. I always tend to be the giver in my relationship with my husband. But through this, he was able to take care of me in ways I could have never imagined and it actually brought us closer.
Yes, Yes, Yes!! Sitting here reading this and all the comments I realize I am not alone. Many of us share similar journeys. I had to grow up at 6, after my father was killed and my mother ended up in a mental hosp. She was there for 6 weeks and from the moment she came home I (being the oldest of 3) felt I needed to take care of everyone. I learned really quick no one was going to watch over me, care for me, nurture me. I was the momma.
Now, umm some 40+ years later I totally see how that still gets in the way. My attitude is so often, “it’s okay, I don’t need anyone anyway. I can do this.” Or sometimes…so it’s a bit more spiritual I’ll add “God and I can do this”. Oh it’s a battle, I see it, and yes it’s hard. But God wants us dependent on Him, and yes at times others, but never completely independent.
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