The general consensus is that medical boards are sadistic tests of minutia. You might know how to treat an ear infection, but question will ask how to treat an ear infection in a pan-allergic pregnant patient who contracted the infection in the Republic of Congo while spelunking in a cave with an infestation of an unknown species of monkey and comorbid gastroenteritis after drinking from the underground river that said monkeys were defecating in.
I was due to re-certify as a physician assistant this year and decided to take my boards in early summer just before I left for Haiti. I tried squeezing in snippets of study time but the more I reviewed, the less prepared I felt. I didn’t panic because I was registered for an intense board review course one week before my test date. It was basically three years of PA school crammed into three days. Perfect. I planned to follow the course with four days of concentrated review, conquer the exam, and get on with my summer.
All of my carefully laid plans blew up in my face.
The babysitting I’d secured for my post-class study time all fell through the day before. I desperately started calling my arsenal of sitters and no one was available. It was about that time when the reality hit me … If I don’t pass my boards, I lose my job. I bawled. Because for this mom of four, childcare is the kryptonite of my life.
I flopped down on the couch and threw my hands up to God. “I can’t do this!” was about all I could say. And He whispered that He’d handle it.
And He did. Within the day.
- Kelly texted me to tell me she had Tuesday off and wanted to see “her” kids.
- Maridel called and announced she and her daughter were coming Wednesday to hang out with the kiddos so I could sneak away and study.
- Clarissa volunteered to take the kids out of the house all day Thursday for a fun adventure with her mom, Denise. She also offered to take my oldest jeans shopping. This was a double bonus because shopping with a teenage daughter is detrimental to my health.
- Ali informed me that she was coming over Friday to hold down the fort. She also warned me not to say no, or else! (She is sassy like that.)
Suddenly I was covered.
I cried all over again. I couldn’t believe how God had brought friends from literally every walk of my life to help me. I’d considered the whole ordeal my problem and didn’t want to put anyone out. But my friends didn’t see it that way. They knew I was struggling and they wanted to help.
I am queen of saying, “I’ve got this!” But a lot of times I don’t got this. A lot of times I don’t ask for help because I am too proud to admit I need it. And worse, when friends see that I am in the weeds and offer to help, I often decline.
Asking for and accepting help is an act of submission and humility. Two traits highly valued in the kingdom of God. But these are the very traits many of us struggle with, opting instead for self-sufficiency and pride.
I hire sitters rather than ask friends. I take on more shifts at work rather than trusting God to provide. I undertake more projects than what is reasonable. I try to do it all on my own power. And I reason that I shouldn’t ask for help unless my situation is really bad – like critical illness or crisis.
But here’s the thing, when I resist asking for and receiving help, even in the small things, it not only robs others of the joy of serving, it also robs me of the joy of deeper relationships and community.
Sitting in a quiet space, in the midst of being supported by my sisters in Christ, I sensed God caring for me in a tangible, personal way. His image bearers were an encouragement to me. I knew my sisters in Christ were for me just as God is for me. And the truth found in scripture came alive in new ways.
We know that God expects us to bear one another’s burdens as His hands and feet on earth. I harp on everyone both in my writing and in real life to help others. Yet caring for each other is a two way street. And being a gracious receiver is just as important as being a cheerful giver.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul spends time describing the various gifts and talents believers might have. He then relates the body of Christ (believers) to actual body parts, pointing out that just like in the human body, the parts are created to work together and are dependent upon one another. The end result is a strong, unified community building the kingdom and caring for one another.
“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25”
The passage doesn’t just remind me to locate believers with the spiritual gift of watching my kids. (Still, give me a jingle if that’s you.) But in verse 26 we also read, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” In other words, my friends feel the burden when I am struggling because God wired us this way. It’s in our spiritual DNA to care about and care for each other as one body. When I resist, I am acting in sharp contrast to the way God created the church to function.
As Christians, one of the greatest advertisements to the watching world is the way we love and serve each other. This includes humbly receiving care. Pride, unilateral self-sufficiency, and isolation don’t point anyone to Jesus.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
The good news is, I passed my boards. And when my friends rejoiced with me, it was in a very personal way. Because they helped make it happen.