About the Author

Shannan Martin is the author of Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted, wife of a jail chaplain, and mom to four kiddos. She's a big believer in community and salsa, and blogs at ShannanMartinWrites.com.

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  1. Shannan,
    I was raised on the philosophy that you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Self reliance was a good quality. It’s taken a lifetime, but the Lord has torn down that old wall. In its place He’s taught me that to “rely” or to “depend” on someone is a good thing…especially if I am relying upon or depending upon the Lord. After all, “apart from Him I can do nothing.” Pride stands in the way of us experiencing true freedom – freedom to try, to dare, to risk, to love because we are depending upon our Savior, not ourselves. Thank you for a beautiful post this morning!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. I hear your heart here, Shannan. It’s so much easier to give help than ask for it. A continual struggle for me. My husband and I serve in a recovery community and that is teaching me that real strength comes from sharing our need. I like where you said “Our faith is built on immeasurable need”. Oh, how I need that as a daily reminder. Thank you for sharing from your heart and from your need.

  3. The last time I asked my church for help,they said “no.its too soon from your previous request,2 months. I came into a veterans domicillary basically for alcoholics,drug dependants,and mental health issues.we are actually expected to have a higher power here,and time with God.
    Now asking other church. Goers for help is more difficult,Trust is not there any more.

  4. “so much comfier on the giving end of help” — isn’t that the truth. Deep growth comes from those places of complete dependence, right? It is where I want to be but it is rarely easy being there.

  5. My husband and I always want to help others, and we love doing it…but I have to admit that we never like to be on the receiving end of it. WHY IS THAT?

    “If we can’t be vulnerable and needy to the folks around us, how can we possibly be fully vulnerable to our Maker?”

    Ouch. Thank you so much for sharing this today. 🙂

    • Yep! It’s like when we want to do something nice for someone, we want them to just accept it, right? But when people offer a particular kindness to me (buying my lunch, etc…) I’m so quick to do the, “Oh, no, no, no…” thing. It’s so true that it sort of robs them of the blessing of giving. Why is it so hard to receive sometimes??? Let me know if you have the answer. 😀

  6. “Ours is a faith built on immeasurable need.” I could not agree more! And in our desperate neediness, Jesus loves us. Oh, how I love Him!!

  7. I read once that if you want to make a friend, a really good friend, ask them to help you with something. Sounds so easy, but yes, the giving end of help is the easy place to be. xoxo

  8. middle class ideas, yet always wanting more
    pulling myself up out of free lunch/textbooks, paying for my own lunch with part-time job
    finally finishing college 3rd time is a charm
    teaching our kids to manage money and to be good stewards
    wanting to help rather than be helped
    wanting to fix other people – knowing that is not the right way to go about sharing Christ’s redeeming love

    “If we can’t be vulnerable and needy to the folks around us, how can we possibly be fully vulnerable to our Maker?” A M E N!

  9. Thank you for this article. Asking for help is difficult for us, but I am glad that we have learned to do so. We are foster-adopt parents and would not get through any of this without the help of fellow believers!

    • Hey Jodi!
      Yep, when we jump out of our comfort zone, it’s funny how quickly we start to scream HELP! 🙂 Praying sunshine and a little peace and quiet to you today. 🙂

  10. Shannan,

    I loved this. Very raw, real and reflective in a way that encouraged me- encouraged me to need, and to ask for help and to lean onto others. At a young age, great disappointments from parents have led me to build up that ugly wall of self-protection. Rather than risk relying on someone who will let me down, I can often stay determined to do it all myself. Very foolish and lonely to live like that. I am learning that the sweetness of leaning on God when disappointed by others is empowering and freeing, leaning on myself is suffocating and empty. And the risk is worth it for there are those people with whom we CAN count on and one of the great builders of intimacy is letting others come to our rescue and meet our needs.

    • “Rather than risk relying on someone who will let me down, I can often stay determined to do it all myself. Very foolish and lonely to live like that.” Liz, I still struggle with these words you articulated so well. I’m thankful for the ways God is slowly but surely prying my pride out of my hands!

      • Yes Shannan- pride is a tough battle for sure. We mistake it often for some kind of self-protective stance we can take. I love what you said about God prying it out of our hands. I am SO GLAD that God does this! I don’t want to control my life- those days where I struggled with God and eventually LET GO- those are the sweet days of relief for my soul and I want more of them, I truly do!

  11. With all due respect, Shannan, I’ve read your blog for awhile now and it seems that you never tire of expressing how much your family “gave up” in order to go and live where you felt the Lord was leading. And every time you insert a reminder, it has a way of sounding pious and it puts a bad taste in my mouth, as if those of us who aren’t living your lifestyle are to be pitied, as we are not quite in God’s perfect will.

    You wrote this: “I’m starting to see the profound beauty in living a life many might describe as chaotic, or even irresponsible. In abandoning just a slice of our American, middle-class sensibility, we find ourselves positioned to receive help. Sometimes we even ask for it. Living in such a way that we can no longer always do for ourselves, we’re stitched more securely into the fabric of community, where everyone takes turns lending a hand and the lines of us/them slide and blur and float away.”

    Do you really believe that middle-class Americans aren’t “positioned to receive help” or that they are always able to “do for themselves”? Surely you realize that is not the case at all. As a middle-class American, I often find myself “shuffling in dirt,” needing someone to lean on and be Jesus to me. Just as you have trials and find yourself depending on others and the community, so do the rest of us, middle-class, upper-class, lower-class … we are all there, at one time or another.

    Truth is, you don’t have to move “to the wrong side of the tracks,” as you’ve put it, in order to help hurting and needy people. If that was your calling, I respect that, but some of the saddest, most broken people I’ve ever met lived in modest houses just like mine, and some lived in extravagant houses, yet they ended up in jail, just like Robert. They’ve were abandoned by parents and turned to a life of drugs and reckless living. They needed someone to be Jesus to them, to stand in the gap and offer them strong love, tough love, unconditional love. Thankfully, we (and others) were there, in their middle-class/upper-class neighborhood.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no section of the city that needs Jesus more than others, and there is no class of people (upper, middle, low) who deserve to see Jesus in action more than another.

    • If I write often about living on the wrong side of the tracks and the sacrifices that have been asked of us along the way, it is simply because I write about my life, and this happens to be it. This is my world, my daily grind. Every day, God speaks to me through the circumstances I am in. I imagine if I was a missionary in Singapore or a physician in Arizona, the lessons would largely be the same, but they would be delivered to me in unique ways, tailor-made for me to learn.

      The good news about dependence is that it is for all of us. We may come to it in different ways or experience it differently, but it remains a fundamental of our faith.

      I speak for no one but myself in my writing. When we lived further up the ladder (though we remain unapologetic “middle-classers”,) we were much more likely to believe we could solve most of our problems ourselves. We were fully entrenched in the values of independence and doing for ourselves. It took some of our more recent life changes to show us our error.

      You’re right, everyone needs Jesus. And by His masterful plan, some of us are sent here and some there. There are enough of us to go around. I enjoy hearing how God lovingly guides folks in lives that look nothing like mine and the lessons they learn along the way.

      Thanks for your comment.

  12. I’ve found it to be true that vulnerabilities exist for everyone no matter which socio-economic status one is or is perceived to be. How one chooses to deal with them is the fundamental exercise in building faith. Need varies in form and degree and often we will negate another’s as petty or frivolous depending upon where we are in the spectrum.
    Are not humbling oneself and humiliating oneself different sides of the same coin?
    Is it determined my who owns the coin? Neediness can assume so many facets that a simple flip of coin can never determine a course of action; that comes from faith. Faith in God, knowing He created us and understanding that He gave His Son for the sole purpose of bringing us safely home to Him one day.
    Perhaps we should reach out to rescue and serve another as Our Lord has taught and reach up for rescue and the services available as Our Lord has also taught us to come to Him own our knees. Amen

  13. What a beautiful post, Shannan. I agree, being on the helping side of needy is so much easier. There’s gratification in being able to help another in some way. It’s truly humbling to have to ask for help. To admit you are not enough, or you don’t have enough for all that’s required of you.

    Being on the need-side requires a degree of vulnerability. I love how you shared that opening ourselves up to others—being vulnerable/real about our need—leads to deeper relationship with others, and more importantly, with God.

    Thanks for this post. I needed this today.

  14. After all I’ve learned, I still despise my own need. I know I’m needy before God but I get burned every so often from people and decide I’ll never receive anything from humans again. Because I’m mature like that. Pride is it’s own prison.

  15. As a constant blog stalker of yours, I know you have a list of books to read a mile long, but you must add Tullian Tchividjian’s “One Way Love” to it. These two sentences , “God’s economy is not one of independence or boot-strap hoisting. Ours is a faith built on immeasurable need,” Seriously could have come straight from this book. I think it is right up your alley.
    Thanks for sharing grace with your actions and your words.

  16. This was as refreshing as a slice of watermelon on this hot summer day. Just enough fuel for the spirit to push through a little more sunlight. Thanks.

    TheHousewifeTravels.com

  17. “It’s easy to demand vulnerability when it’s not mine at stake. It’s so much comfier on the giving end of help.”

    This is so much a part of my story.
    I grew up being the one who helped..the one who tried to be enough to make our family okay.

    It’s a HARD pattern to break out of and become the one who needs help.
    God is faithful…and he has shown me over and over that it is the only way to draw close to him and know him deeply.

    He continues to make my independent heart dependent on HIM and him alone.

    love to you, friend.
    always love your words.

  18. Shannon, I haven’t been getting your latest posts! Bummer. So glad I did come here to read this. I agree with the many quotes listed above. It IS easier to demand vulnerability from others, esp. my hubby, thinking I am already open to it. I can now see that it is “comfier” on this side and maybe I’m not so vulnerable after all. Love, love your blogs!

  19. Loved this post. It is so easy for me to offer help than to ask for it. Oh I tell people to pray, but that is it. I guess I feel I can handle all this on my own. Truth is NO I CAN’T. I/we need Jesus to rescue us.

    There comes a time when we have to break the habit of doing it all on our own. We need to come to grips with asking for help even if it is prayer or just advice.