For the umpteenth time, I wring my hands and stare out the window. Bright overhead sunlight drenches every surface and corner of the view like a blanket of hope. I want to reach out and grab some of this lit-up courage. Instead, for the umpteenth time, I pace back and forth in my office before stopping in front of my laptop. I sit down and take a deep breath. Exhaling, I begin typing a question to my friend, one that involves me needing the dreaded H word.
Oh y’all, I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to ask for help. Blame it on my years as an independent military wife, an unattractive leaning toward pride, a strong aversion to bothering people or all the above, but I don’t like asking for help. Heck, I don’t like needing help. While I am painfully aware of my own weaknesses and need for support, I hate the thought of burdening others in any way.
Still, this is a request that must be made, so I have to write the email. I type a few words, stop to tap my fingertips on my chin, then delete a few words. I’m going in circles, ’round and ’round like the Christmas wreath hanging on our black front door.
It’s then that God reminds me of the passage from the gospel Luke detailing Mary’s actions after the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to Jesus. Immediately after Gabriel departs, Mary throws on her sandals and high-tails it to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth’s house. In Luke, it says Mary departed at once. According the The Message translation, Mary didn’t waste a minute.
I think about how this could have easily played out differently. Mary could have waited to leave, spending that time biting her nails and asking questions:
“What if this is a bad time to visit Elizabeth?”
“What if I’m in the way?”
“She’s probably really tired and what if I’m a bother?”
She didn’t latch onto any of these questions. Instead, she latched onto the details Gabriel gave–her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant–and literally ran with it. Yes, Mary probably knew she could be a comfort to her older cousin, too. After all, they both shared the experience of remarkable pregnancies. But she also knew she needed Elizabeth’s help in processing this wild miracle, and so she respected that need by traveling to Elizabeth’s. What a kind gift to give herself!
As I sweat over this email, I think that perhaps I could give myself a little kindness for Christmas, too. I could start by remembering that asking for help is a move for me, not against. It shows strength, not weakness.
I could start by trusting that if God puts someone on my heart as one who could help ease a difficult situation, then it’s for a reason.
I could start by losing my opposition to the idea of asking for help and welcoming a lighthearted spirit that doesn’t take myself so seriously.
It’s okay–and very good– to have compassionate concern for other people and their schedules and to not take advantage.
But it’s also okay to have compassionate concern for myself. And sometimes that compassionate concern looks like stepping out of the circle and into the blanket of light that says a little help, please.
Is it easy or difficult for you to ask for help? How are you showing yourself a little kindness this Christmas season?