If You Hate Asking For Help, This is For You.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 5:3

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I take a deep breath. I have been crying and I’m trying to calm myself before I open my mouth. The fear in my stomach and the voices in my head work hard to convince me to keep silent. Hot tears spill over again, but I speak anyway: I need help.

I do not like asking for help. I don’t do well with voicing my most uncomfortable feelings and experiences. I find it awkward and embarrassing to need people. I worry about how my emotions will affect others or if they will be inconvenienced by my need. I worry about becoming a burden and dragging everyone down into my sorry mess of a life.

I wish I could do it all by myself. I wish I could fix everything, figure it all out, make it on my own.

But the truth is that I can’t. I need people to help me. I need company when I’m sad or lonely. I need encouragement and reminders that everything’s going to be okay. I need people to celebrate the good moments with me. I need people to laugh and have fun with. I need people to bounce ideas off and help me figure things out. I need people who will remind me of the truth. I can’t thrive, or even survive very well, without help.

Stanley Hauerwas writes that the beatitudes are

not a list of requirements, but rather a description of the life of a people gathered by and around Jesus. [1]

 The people who gather close to Jesus recognise that they are ‘poor in spirit.’ They know that they don’t have it all together and can’t do it all on their own. They gather near to Jesus because they understand that they need him, and they need the people who are gathered there beside them.

And yet needing others always leaves us vulnerable. When we ask for support and people are able to give it, we feel affirmed and loved. But asking for help also opens us up to the possibility of pain. In saying “I need help,” we risk rejection, misunderstanding or judgement. We risk people saying no, because they don’t have the capacity to meet our need. Sometimes asking for support leaves us feeling let down by imperfect and broken people. Sometimes it leaves us feeling let down by God.

In those moments, it helps me to remember that Jesus experienced those feelings too. In his time of greatest need, he asked the disciples to stay with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, while he cried out in agony to God. But the disciples, his closest friends, fell asleep. In their broken humanity, they couldn’t meet Jesus’ need for support. And on the cross, he felt completely alone: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Psalm 121, though, reassures us that our Father God is always watching over us, and never ‘slumbers not sleeps.’ He is never caught off guard by what is happening to us, or in our world. He is always able to meet our needs, even when other people can’t. On the cross, Jesus experienced separation from God so that we would never have to. When we need help, we need only look up to remember where it comes from: The Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth: the one to whom we will never be an inconvenience; the one who always has the endless capacity to love us, just as we are, and provide for all that we need.

 


[1] Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (SCM Theological Commentary on the Bible; London: SCM Press, 2006), pp. 58-65.