I’m a ninja at turning my schedule into a game of Tetris. And I am good. Very, very good. Since I knew a two week period contained multiple long meetings and deadlines, I artfully scheduled golf camp and horse camp around my work commitments to keep the kids busy. Satisfied with a well oiled plan, I braced myself for a whirlwind stretch of strategy meetings, ER shifts, events and presentations.
But then the call came. A child I’d hosted in the past needed a safe place to stay and she needed it fast. My schedule screamed in protest, but my heart and my head both knew our home was the best option.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have agreed to this hosting. But these weren’t normal circumstances. I knew this child needed to land somewhere not just safe, but familiar. So I closed my eyes and agreed to take her.
My initial plan was to try to figure out, all on my own, how I could make this work. I am a doer, a problem solver, a superwoman of sorts when it comes to making it happen. It’s totally in my wheelhouse to face a challenge head on. But I knew in my heart of hearts I needed help in order to pull this off.
And I hated that feeling.
I stood at my counter, drumming my fingers and facing a hard reality: I am bad at asking for help. Even from God.
Don’t get me wrong, I ask God all the time for wisdom, guidance and protection. And I do ask my friends to pray for me. But rarely do I ever ask God for practical help, let alone my people.
Honestly, I felt a little embarrassed to even think about admitting I needed help. It felt foreign to me. But I also know that my tendency to fight my own battles and take care of myself is a prideful, ridiculous posture before the One who made me. It was time to admit my limits and ask for help.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Lacking any sort of prayer language in this arena, I simply prayed this, “Lord, help me. Please. I need help.” It wasn’t the most sophisticated prayer I ever prayed, but fortunately, God doesn’t grade us on eloquence.
I knew the next step was to reach out to my friends and church family with specific needs. But as I sat down to write the email, all the reasons why I should just figure this out on my own swirled in my mind: People will think I shouldn’t have taken this on if I need this much help. This is asking too much. They aren’t the ones who agreed to host a kid. Everyone will think I can’t handle my life. I’ll be embarrassed if nobody says yes.
I knew that each of those thoughts were rooted in fear and pride. So I gritted my teeth and typed. I needed someone to take my kids and their horses to horse camp, I needed meals, snacks and childcare. I needed some activities to keep the kids busy. I needed prayer. Lots of prayer.
I hit send. And I waited to see if anyone would respond.
Within hours, my friends and church family rallied around me. One friend happily agreed to trailer my kids, two horses and all their paraphernalia up to horse camp. Other friends offered to babysit, bring meals or give gift cards. Without even being asked, another covered the cost for extra childcare and golf camp for the little girl we were hosting. Activities and snacks were dropped off or Amazon primed to our house. My entire schedule was suddenly covered. And a whole little army was praying over us and encouraging us every day.
It took my breath away.
Asking, “How am I going to make this work?” was all about me. Allowing the Body of Christ to be the Body of Christ made it all about us. It was beautiful and blessed me beyond measure to be ministered to by my friends. How selfish and empty would it have been for me to try to do this on my own?
In Galatians 6:2, Paul instructs us to bear one another’s burdens. Then just three sentences later, he reminds us to carry our own load. It might seem contradictory, but there is a clear distinction between the two directives.
Loads are tasks or challenges that are within our ability and circumstances to address without assistance. And the Bible makes it clear that we each have a responsibility to carry our own load. Burdens are different. Burdens are things we can’t do or face on our own. They are unavoidable tasks or circumstances that bear down right when we have reached the end of ourselves.
The danger comes when we don’t distinguish between the two. Some of us, myself included, just try to sling our burdens into our loads and keep marching. Whether it is from shame, pride or unrealistic understanding of our own limits, neglecting to ask for help can be crippling.
Sometimes we secretly hope people see us crumbling under the weight of a burden and step in. But that’s neither a realistic nor fair expectation. More often, you have to humble yourself enough to ask for help. Especially if you are the kind of person who projects to the world that you never need it. And the more specific and clear you are with your request, the easier it is for others to use their unique gifts, talents and availability to assist you.
Bearing one another’s burdens was God’s idea. And like most of His ideas, it is life-giving. So if you find yourself at the end of yourself, pray for help. Then ask.
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 1 John 5:14-15