Accepting help

Ever since I read all the wonderful, insightful comments to my post about “putting our lives on hold,” something has been nagging at me: do I let others help me?

Though I sort of touched on the issue in the post, many of you guys really articulated something that’s been percolating in the back of my mind for a while: to truly live the Christian life of agape is to seek to serve others…but also to let others do the same for us.

Recently, especially with the girls’ frequent visits, I’ve sometimes worried that I’m about to hit a limit. Even with my husband giving 110%, sometimes I feel like I’m so maxed out that I won’t be able to deal with one more thing. “It’s just that I don’t have any help!” I thought to myself the other day. Immediately the wisdom of the comments to that post came to mind, and I wondered:

Is it really that I don’t have any help? Or is it that I don’t have any help that I am humble enough to accept?

To be fair, it’s not always pride that motivates me to turn down other people’s offers to lend a hand; I’m also a lazy control freak, so I have difficulty veering from my little routine or giving up any amount of control (and therefore risking that something might not be done the “right” way!) And yet, all of these things — pride, laziness, the inability to delegate — block me from letting others have the opportunity to know how good it feels to realize that you really made a difference in someone’s life today, to know how much you’re needed.

Ever since then, I’ve been doing some brainstorming and have realized that I’ve actually had a lot of offers for help in recent months:

  • My mom said she could come help with laundry every now and then.
  • My dad offered to pick up the tab for an occasional grocery store trip to help us with our budget.
  • A friend offered to watch the kids for a little while if I ever need some time to myself.
  • I’m on an email list of a great group of ladies at my church who are always taking turns cooking for one another, and one of them recently mentioned that they’d be happy to throw a couple casseroles my way if it would help me out.

And these are just a few of the unsolicited, explicit offers I can think of off the top of my head. Even friends who haven’t overtly offered to help would surely be delighted to be called upon if I really needed them — I know that when friends have asked me for favors it makes my day to be able to lend a hand.

I’ve realized this:

WHAT I SAY: “I wish I had help!”

WHAT I MEAN: “I wish I were rich so that I could hire a staff of cooks and housekeepers and professional diaper changers so that I could have help without ever having to sincerely reach out to a fellow human being and show them my vulnerable side, and without having to deal with all the unpredictability that comes with letting your neighbors help you in a way that’s convenient for them!”

I don’t like to admit that I can’t do it all myself, I worry that people will think I’m some kind of freeloader, it’s a challenge for me to give up control of even the minutia of my life, it makes me uncomfortable to veer away from my habits and do something different, etc. — these are the main problems, not a true shortage of people in my life who would be happy to lend me a hand if I need it.

So, starting now, I’m challenging myself to look at the areas of my life where I feel like I’m struggling or falling behind, and take a hard look at the question: is there someone I could reach out to and ask for help with this?

I’d be interested to know: Does anyone else struggle with this? If so, can you think of any ways that you might be able to let others help you? I’d love to hear the results of your own brainstorming session — maybe we can get ideas from one another.

New here? Come say hi on Twitter at @jenfulwiler!



Enter the Conversation...

49 Responses to “Accepting help”
  1. Soul Pockets says:

    I can relate to your post all to well. Whenever I feel like I may need help, and just may have to ask for it I become very anxious. If it is my last resort and I have to ask for help, I usually apologize profusely and feel a bit smaller. I do think it is pride and my controlling ways that contribute to this anxiety. Your post has me thinking. I never thought someone helping me would also help them. When my MIL comes over and starts doing dishes, instead of getting huffy about it and shooting my husband the annoyed look, I will graciously accept the help. I think when we are in the moment of feeling out of control when help is offered we need to remember that we are letting someone else serve God through us. I appreciate this post and look forward to the other ideas.

  2. Karen says:

    I think I may create an entire post on this topic – I’ll link back. You are speaking right into my life.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes it’s not that we need help as much as we need people to acknowledge the work we are doing. Motherhood can be lonely and we can engage in spiritual battle during that time. Often we need someone to look at us and see the heroic effort it takes to maintain…even if it’s our sanity we’re maintaining! Keep on keeping on Jen! It’s God’s work and He sees it all.

  4. Mary says:

    I can completely relate to your dilemma. It is so incredibly difficult for us who are strong willed control freaks to humble ourselves and admit that we can’t do it all.
    We recently had a HUGE crisis and had to humble ourselves yet again to rely on the generosity of others. Once I got over my pride and humiliation, God took the situation and ran with it. Miracles abounded and we sat in awe as scripture came alive. Ephesians 3:20 says that no one can outdo the generosity of God. It is so very true. Mother Theresa also counseled that one had to accept charity so that others could practice this virtue. If we all say no all the time, how will any of us grow.
    I am always the one to “offer” the help, because I feel I can control the situation and therefore be a hero in the outcome. Well God has shown me that in humility there is great grace.
    So persevere in prayer and when your heart rebels the most, know that it is the Holy Spirit screaming “Let them help, so I can show you love!”
    Thanks for giving me something to ponder and reflect on. I too may post on this and link back. If your interested in reading about an incredible miracle, check out my site’s.
    Blessings,
    Mary
    PS I can’t wait to hear what happens with the “door ringers”. Bless you for listening to the call and loving them as Christ would.

  5. Sue says:

    I was sick for 6 1/2 years with chronic fatigue syndrome and was forced to confront this whole thing. It took a long time to accept help. At the beginning, my mother would offer to do something and I would say no. It must have pained her because she could see I needed help. She would leave, and then afterwards as soon as I was alone I would berate myself for my insufferable pride and for allowing my independence to stretch way beyond anything useful.

    I still find it hard, but I’m a lot better than I was. It’s easier to accept help now that I am well and able to do things for myself again. But I try to remember what I learnt back there so that when I really do need it, I ask or accept even if I have to kinda grit my teeeth to do it. Because gee, it feels nice once you have.

    Sometimes when I say yes it’s easier because I know the person offering really wants to help, and so I just focus on how it will make them happy :)

  6. Kelli says:

    I completely agree and understand. It’s incredibly had for me to ask and/or accept help. Especially now, being sick and all. I feel that “doing” things is the one thing I still have control over. And by asking/accepting help, it means admitting I “can’t” do something.

    It kills me. I feel like a piece of something gets ripped away.

    Yet, on the other hand, I get frustrated – well, maybe that’s not the word’ that no one offers to help. We go to a church that is very “hands off”. There is no comfort or support there- but the youth leaders rock and I feel that the kids getting that support through all this is more important than my needs. And yet, it hurts that no one “cares” enough to offer. It makes me feel unworthy at times. Worthless.

    It’s a paradox within me that I just don’t get. I want to be able to do things, can’t admit I need help, yet long for someone to just ask me how they can help.

    I just don’ know.

  7. Alexis says:

    I just had a day where I really wish that I had asked for help when I first started to think that I needed it. Since I didn’t ask for help I was really rough on my kids and had a “bad mothering day” and they ended up bearing the burden of my pride. Sometimes we really CAN’T do it and in those circumstances we had better ask for help or those around us are the ones who suffer the most. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. SuburbanCorrespondent says:

    A favorite topic of mine. I read a book a number of years ago by the same woman who wrote “The Surrendered Wife” (great book, awful title); in it, she talks about how important it is to give others the pleasure of helping us. It really spoke to me, and I began to see how – even though I was willing to help others – it wasn’t good enough, because I would say “Don’t bother” to people who offered to help me. Or “You shouldn’t have!” instead of “Thank you so much.” I’m not as articulate as the author or as you, so I cannot adequately express the difference this has made in my life. How happy people are to help, how good it makes them feel, how it helps them feel closer to you if you let them help…

    I’m thinking, too, of the Woody Allen movie “Hannah and Her Sisters,” in which Hannah’s husband feels alienated from her because she is so darn capable and doesn’t need him for anything.

    People cannot avail themselves of the graces of performing corporeal works of mercy unless other people let them. Love can’t flow without people helping each other.

  9. Mary Nappi says:

    I couldn’t relate to this post more, especially the control freak part. I am 7 weeks pregnant with a 20th month old (which probably sounds like a cake walk to you :)), and I feel horrible. I am in desperate need of help, but struggle with the assumption that anyone trying to help me will do it wrong and just make my life harder. Like when a friend offers to pick something up at the grocery store for me, I think, “you wouldn’t know what we like, you would probably just get the wrong things”. So I graciously decline.

    I like what soul pockets said about how when we let others help us, we are “letting someone else serve God through us”. I should try to remember that more.

    P.S. Perhaps you could see about putting those visiting girls to work. I think children that age like to help out much more than we realize.

  10. Jordana says:

    I’ve always had trouble accepting help. I’ve gotten a bit better since adding more children to our family, but I still struggle with the concept. I know I need help, and yet I don’t want to burden anyone and I’m proud too.

    I forget that my refusals of assistance, are refusals to allow other people the blessing of giving. Not only do I need help, but those people are also trying to do what all of us are called to do in the corporal works of mercy.

  11. lyrl says:

    This is a problem for me at work. One of my big difficulties in accepting help on busy days is that the person who helps doesn’t do things “my” way. Which is especially ridiculous because we have three shifts and the people on the other shifts, that I have to work with everyday, don’t do things my way either. Even having worked that way my entire career, adding a new person who does things differently is a struggle for me every time.

    Another thing about accepting help is the responsibility to coordinate it. I think in some ways trying to figure out how to keep an employee productive feels like that “one more thing” in a hectic day that I just can’t deal with. Even though taking on that responsibility will end up helping me out, for some reason it doesn’t feel that way when contemplating being given someone to supervise.

    If things are especially bad, my boss will order me to accept help, which helps overcome my resistance (I still argue with him!). But there are times I (and the company) would be better off if I asked for help, and that’s a skill I’m still working on.

  12. carole Lawrence says:

    Have thought of enlisting the help of your new little FRiends? You coul actually teach them a lot through this.

  13. Literacy-chic says:

    Hey! I’m a lazy control freak, too! Let’s do lunch. Add to the mix that I have elevated procrastination to an art. I have learned to accept help from my husband and son without being overly critical, remembering how it felt when I was criticized by my mother for a less-than-perfect job. I have also learned to trust friends to watch my children–even the youngest! That was big. But help doesn’t come my way very often. I think it’s because I give off an air of having things under control. I don’t have things under control. I also CLEARLY don’t know the people you know, and my family are too busy worrying about themselves to babysit for me. Boy, that sounds bad. But I’ve been struggling with how to make things work lately, and it is disheartening sometimes… But although my siblings work all of the time, I have 2 or 3 very obliging friends, I just hate asking. Recently, I have come to accept the rare offer of babysitting and reciprocal babysitting.

  14. planetnomad says:

    Yes. This is something I have had to work through. I made huge strides when my twins were born and my oldest was 20 months; I needed help and had to ask for it.
    And yet, I believe it pleases God when we humble ourselves and admit our dependency on one another. It’s like that whole body analogy from I Cor 12; it’s good for our pride to admit we need help, and it’s good for other people to be selfless and help us.

  15. Christine the Soccer Mom says:

    Do I ever struggle with this!!??!! Golly, Jen, I could have written this post myself if I were half as articulate as you!

    Imagine my horror when I had to call one of Little Girl’s classmates’ Mommies and ask for help to get her to mandatory rehearsal tonight. I have no car until Travel Man arrives home and we pick it up tomorrow, and in spite of the fact that Little Girl’s classmate lives up the road and has to PASS us to get to dance (or anywhere, for that matter), I struggled with calling and asking for help.

    And I thought I was the only lazy control freak in the world, too. I’m glad to have company. This just firms up that I need to have you over for coffee one day. Virginia isn’t that far from the Scorpion Capital of Texas, is it? ;)

  16. Jenny says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Just found your blog the other day and have been so encouraged and inspired by your writing. So much of what you talk about speaks to my experience and this is no exception.

    Too often I turn down help because it isn’t exactly the type of help I envisioned, or I am afraid that the helper will do something wrong and I will just have to do it again after they are finished. Instead of being thankful for the generosity and grace provided by friends and family, I am too worried about getting things done right.

    Like Karen, I think I will try to write about this and link back. I’m also setting a goal of accepting help the next time it is offered, without controlling the situation.

  17. Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife says:

    Jen,

    I was just going to e-mail you regarding this same issue. I have a friend who would love to trade babysitting for me, but I find her method of dealing with children just a tad offensive. The last time I had her babysit, she let them skip dinner, have dessert and then watch t.v. rather later than we usually let them stay up (fortunately it was a movie, not “real” t.v.). All because she didn’t want to be “the bad guy”. It sent me reeling. It isn’t so much that she let these things happen as what I perceive as her inability to deal with _any_ confrontations, even the mild ones of not eating dinner and wanting to stay up late. Am I over-reactng? Or am I right in perceiving her as someone I can’t trust to watch over my children?

  18. Gosia says:

    Hello Jen,

    Long time lurker, first time commenter here.

    (I’ve had kind of a similar experience of unexpectedly finding myself in the Church, when three years ago nothing could have been further from my imaginings!)

    One of my favourite writers on spiritual things, Fr Ron Rolheiser, talked about giving and receiving in his column last week.

    More on the giving side, but also about how hard it can be to actually receive…

    http://www.ronrolheiser.com/columnarchive/archive_display.php?rec_id=409

    (sorry, can’t figure out how to make it an actual link)

    Thought you might find it interesting reading!

  19. noe says:

    Jennifer, when I read your post yesterday about the girls, the first thing I thought about was how they might be able to lend you a hand by playing with your little ones. When my girls were very little, there were two sisters who came occasionally to play with my children while I got other things done around the house. The sisters were too young to babysit, but they were a big help while I was home. It took a little while to train them (watch the baby around small objects, the 10 year old may not be old enough to pour from a gallon jug, etc.) but it did provide me with a break.

    When my girls got to be around 10 or 11, they did the same for neighbors – played with the toddlers while the mom was home. Girls that age typically love little ones. Maybe that’s one reason God is sending those girls your way!

  20. Stina says:

    Amen, Amen, Amen!!!

    This post hits SO close to home. The first step is admitting you have a problem right? :)

  21. Andrea says:

    I really agree so much with this!!
    We need to let others serve us just as we need to serve others.
    I don’t like asking for help, but it is necessary for me and for them.

    I think another thing we can also do is that if you know a mom (or person) is struggling and you ask her if she needs help and she says, “no”, then just surprise her with help. (like a meal or call her up and take her kids out on a whim, etc.) I would love it if someone would do that, even though I tend to be a control freak like you!! :)

  22. My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving says:

    Oh my goodness, you totally nailed me! I am such a control freak. i think my biggest issue is that I have 4 kids, and we have been criticized and poked fun at so much for our “large” family, that for me to accept help seems like I am admitting I can’t handle having four kids.

    Twisted, huh? I know I am just being very prideful, but it is so hard to let go of it.

    ~Leslie

  23. Judy says:

    Hi,
    Ok, so I just got home yesterday from hospital (the birth of my third child in less than three years) and thought in a brief moment of ‘spare time’ (ha ha.. yeah, that’s funny, isn’t it??) I’d check out all the blog posts I’d missed while in hospital…

    Imagine my suprise when, after ignoring the telephone calls of people wanting to ‘come over and lend a hand’ I opened up your blog and read this post….

    I don’t know what the answer is but I know I’m incredibly blessed to have family and friends who want to share in this special time with me and my little family by helping out. I think for them being here and lending a hand with little things (washing, cooking, entertaining children etc) not only gives them a sense of being able to do something for someone in need (yeah, I need to recognise the fact that I’m in need at the moment.. not so easy to do when you like to think of yourself as SUPERMUM sometimes) but also allows them to be a part of what is such a very special time in all our lives with the birth of a baby…

    Anyway, hope there’s a solution somewhere out there in the blogosphere!
    Take care,
    Judy

  24. Aimee says:

    Oh this problem is right up my alley!

    When I had my fourth a few months ago, many people offered help and I thought I was doing well to accept a few dinners here and there when the baby first came home. But I quickly realized that I really needed the help later – after the meals stopped coming and after my husband and mother had to return to work.

    A friend of mine called me and said “I want to help you, and I want to offer you something specific instead of saying ‘Call me if you need help.’ I know you – you will NEVER call even if you need help.” She was so right.

    She offered to pick my second son up from preschool for a week. It’s only a ten minute ride 3 times a week, but she knew that I had to pack up the babies and bring them out each time.

    I (reluctantly) accepted her offer and I was amazed at how much more smoothly things went that week. As I was thanking her profusely she said, “Hey, don’t sweat it! I offered and I meant it. It was up to you to accept it.”

    Absolutely. It was up to me to accept the provisions of God that were made manifest through my friends.

    Since then, I’ve gotten (slightly) better at accepting help, but I’ve also realized that sometimes it is easier for people to accept help when you offer something (seemingly) small but SPECIFIC. Just picking up a gallon of milk or a pack of diapers for a friend who is swamped may make all the difference in the day. Sometimes the grand gestures are harder to accept than the little tender mercies we show every day.

  25. Rocks In My Dryer says:

    I was talking to a friend this weekend. She’s overwhelmed and is reluctant to accept help. I told her pointedly and lovingly that it blesses me to help her, so when doesn’t let me, she’s depriving me of a blessing!

  26. Sally says:

    I am another one who has trouble accepting help. Part of it is pride (I don’t want people to know how messy my house is, how behind I am on laundry, or how long it’s been since the kids had a bath…). Part of it is also my complete inability to plan in advance. For example, if a friend offers to babysit, I feel I should do the same for her — but since I never seem to know what I am doing until I do it, I doubt my ability to plan a reciprocal babysitting session and worry that I will end up being a freeloader.

    By the way, definitely enlist your new little friends as helpers; girls that age usually *love* playing with babies and toddlers. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think I would have remained sane with three under four were it not for the 6 and 8 year olds from next door who took up semi-permanent residence in my house and in return played with my kids and kept them out of my hair!

  27. Tara says:

    Hi Jen, I just discovered your website the other day and already I am blessed by what you write!

    I can’t wait to read your archives and about your personal journey to finding the Lord.

    As to this particular post, you spoke straight to my heart. I too am a lazy control freak. But I think when you run with “religious circles,” you almost are molded that way. I often feel like I have to be the best mother, housekeeper, cook, friend, etc. and that falling behind is unacceptable. We moved to New Orleans 2 years ago for my husband to start seminary and since then my life has gotten increasingly more difficult as far as all the stuff I have to do. For me it just has to be a conscious choice to let people help me and not have an internal freak out if they don’t do something “my way.” I’ve struggled with this for years. When I was a newlywed my MIL would come over and do a bunch of stuff without asking, and always do it her way and tell me why my way was wrong. I think that whole scenario caused me to dig my heels in a little deeper to my ways. They live 6 hours away now and things are much better. I actually let her help out when she comes to visit and don’t have an internal meltdown about it (she’s also gotten better at asking how she can help instead of just doing).

    I never even thought about your point that by allowing others to help us, we are blessing them with their service. I tend to feel guilty when someone does something for me, like I don’t deserve it. But you’re absolutely right, it could be as much a blessing to them as it is to us. One of the gifts of the spirit is service, so.

    Thank you so much for posting this. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  28. Joe says:

    A trinity of another kind
    Christopher was almost two years old, when Katie and I felt it was time to start trying for a second child. It had taken so long the first time, that we figured it may take as long this time. However, less than two months later, in March of 2003, we were blessed with a positive home pregnancy test. A few weeks later we went to the obstetrician for the first doctor’s visit.

    Everything was pretty straight forward until we got to the ultrasound part of the exam. Katie and I stared at the small black and white screen while the doctor manipulated the wand. I had no idea what I was looking at. Then, the doctor said, “It looks like we have two!” She pointed to two, tiny flashing lights. They looked like blinking cursors on a computer screen. “Looks like two, healthy heartbeats.”

    Katie always wanted to have twins, and I was excited too. The doctor half-jokingly said “Let me just make sure there isn’t another one in there somewhere.” She had just finished saying that when I saw another tiny cursor blinking on the screen. I asked,

    “Is that what I think it is?” The doctor nodded. Triplets. The rest of the exam is a blur. Katie and I stumbled out of that office, trying to process how our lives were about to totally change.

    Little did I realize how many other lives would also be changed. That Sunday, I saw Father Rush before Mass and shared the good news. It took him a few moments to process everything I told him. Once he picked his jaw up off the floor, he was quick to offer the help of the parish. He made it very clear that he did not want to intrude into our lives, but felt that there was a real need and that the parish was more than willing to help.

    And help they did! Parishioners found all sorts of ways to support us as we prepared for our new arrivals. Since Katie was on bed rest for the second half of the pregnancy, there was a lot that she
    could not do. I had just started a new job, so time off was at a premium and we were trying to save up for the inevitable time we would be spending with some if not all of our babies in the NICU. But our friends and parishioners were there with us every step of the way.

    The babies arrived on October 31 – Happy Halloween! Katie was able to carry them for an almost unheard of 36 weeks and thanks be to God, they were all healthy! Caroline, Jack and Michael all came home from the hospital after only three days. The parish continued to help for another four months. Katie and I look back on that time and remember very little (lack of sleep will do that to one’s memory).

    However, we do recall fondly those who helped us to create a warm, loving home when the size of our family doubled! Caroline, Jack and Michael were baptized on Mother’s Day, 2004. Father Rush asked me to say a few words of thanks to the assembly at the end of mass:

    “It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year to the day since Katie and I found out that Caroline, Jack and Michael would be joining our family. From the very first moment, we knew that God would not have given us this challenge if we were not up to it. We also knew that He would be with us every step of the way:

    • He has been there with meals, lovingly prepared and delivered to our doorstep.

    • He has been there to help with all the many household chores that seem to never get done in the blur that has been our lives for the past six months.

    • He helped us to move from our old house to our new one, in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, and electrical blackout.

    • He has played with Christopher, and given him the one-on-one attention that he needs, and deserves, when Katie and I could not.

    • He has baby-sat, so Katie and I could go out (alone) and remind ourselves that, it is our friendship and marriage that keeps us going day in and day out.

    • He has been there with a kind word, a prayer, or simply a smile.

    Holy Cross Church, and our broader network of family and friends, have embraced us and supported us in ways that we never knew were possible. You have demonstrated what it truly means to be Church, and given a shining example of how one can live up to his or her baptismal promises.

    Today, we welcome Caroline, Jack and Michael into the community of believers. Katie and I hope that as they grow up, they will accept the responsibility to live out the words of today’s Gospel. I cannot imagine a better group from which they can learn what those words truly mean. Our entire family thanks you for all you have done, and hope you will join us after mass for a small reception to celebrate the wonderful things that took place here at Holy Cross not just today, but during the past year as well!”

  29. Joy of Frugal Living says:

    I can definitely relate. We’ve had the additional problem that people just don’t know what to do for us in our situation. (Three miscarriages – they don’t even know what to say at this point. I know for a fact people have sometimes avoided us because they don’t know what to say and feel they must say something.) I’m often not sure what would help either, since much of what is hard right now is internal.

    I think that just realizing those people are there to help makes everything feel a lot better. When we realized that most everyone around us would love to help if there were only some way, we felt more supported and less alone. Sometimes it’s the practical help you need, others it’s just the idea of it being there.

    Any challenge like this is an opportunity to grow. Maybe taking the folks you have listed up on their offers would be a good start, to show yourself just how much help is available and help you feel less overwhelmed?

    Thanks for visiting my blog by the way. Yours has been quite a blessing to me!

    Jennifer

  30. Jen F says:

    It’s a little like you took a screw driver and opened up my brain (or maybe it was a crowbar). Acts of service is how I like to love others but it certainly makes me uncomfortable if others reciprocate. Enter the last two years of my life
    which has been one LONG lesson in learning to allow others to help me. My husband, son and I relocated to Seattle and within a month I was pregnant. By the 20 week ultrasound we found out our daughter had multiple, serious heart defects and the rest of the pregnancy was about watching her heart deteriorate even more. When she was 5 weeks old she had a heart transplant. I had to let people donate sick leave for my husband, fundraise for medical expenses, cook for me, watch my son, drive up snacks to me at a hospital 40-60 minutes away, do my yard work, grocery shopping and almost anything else you can think of. I even let one friend clean my house (something I never dreamed I’d allow). Everytime I had to accept help from people, most of whom I barely knew (remember we had just moved), it was like a little dagger to my pride. Recently, my friend skewered what little pride I had left by fundraising on her blog to get me a laptop so I could stay connected to family and friends when my daughter winds up in the hospital.

    On the other side of the issue I experienced the loss of many friendships during my pregnancy because people refused to allow me to help them in any way. I discovered how isolating it is to those I don’t allow to help me. When you block someone from helping you it does not allow them to enter your life and leaves them feeling alone and disconnected. True fellowship requires that intimate and messy involvement.

  31. Katie says:

    Oh wow, yes! I even had trouble accepting help from my doula, who I had PAID! Her fee included two post partum visits which including do laundry and dishes and whatever I needed. It’s so hard for me to accept help, and when I do, I apologize and apologize for myself. How odd.

  32. Ronnica says:

    This is definitely something I struggle with as well. I pride myself in doing everything right, ontime, and by myself. But, that’s not the way I was created! I’m part of Christ’s body, and the body is arranged in such a way as all need each other.

    On a similar note, I often get caught up in working on my to do list that I don’t think about the people that are around me. I have to be careful that I make time for people, not just tasks.

  33. Julie D. says:

    Late to the party, but you are articulating what I think of as “the American problem.” We are taught from the cradle to be independent. The result is that we are good at offering and delivering assistance to others, while being absolutely terrible at taking that assistance from others. I have offered grocery store runs, etc. so many times to people who are in difficult situations and no one will take the help. My most successful attempts have been when I have helped “commando-style” by just showing up with a meal or whatever.

    And I also have to struggle with taking help that is offered. However, I salve my American principles by reminding myself that I am giving someone else the opportunity to serve while I am getting much-needed help. :-)

  34. Erin K. says:

    I can sooooooo relate to this! For me I think it really is about the vulnerability issue. Here is the progression:

    1. I feel like I have to live up to some sort of standard.
    2. I constantly fail at living up to the standard.
    3. I feel guilty/ashamed because I don’t live up to the standard.
    4. I feel like I have to put forth the image that I am mostly living up to the standard, and I think that everyone thinks that I mostly live up to the standard.
    5. I cannot let others in because if I do, they will see that it’s all a lie.

    Oy! It’s amazing how much I discover when I start to put my thoughts in writing and can go back and read them in black and white.

    I also relate to the idea that letting someone else help me will put me at their mercy. I’m rather territorial (ahem, selfish might be a better word) because when I’m at home, I want things to be on *my* terms. Accepting help puts me at the mercy of someone else’s terms.

    So, all of this to say, your post hit home with me. It’s made me think about a few things, and I can’t wait to go back and read everyone’s comments because I’m sure I’ll have a few more “aha!” moments. :-D

  35. Colleen says:

    It seems totally obvious to me that these girls crave your attention, and you crave help…so put it together, and I think you have a wonderful solution. Offer to pay them something small (if your budget allows) to play with the kids, help folding clothes, cooking dinner, etc. At that age, I would have done almost anything for a few bucks. By the way, I LOVE your blog!!

  36. Erin K. says:

    After reading through some of the comments, I can’t help but to comment AGAIN.

    Karie, my .02 is that it is ok to say no to help, if the person offering is someone you don’t trust. Especially when it comes to your kids. I can immediately think of at least three people from my church who I would NEVER EVER allow to watch my daughter because I feel that, based on my experiences with them, she might be harmed through their negligence. (And because there are fundamental differences in our value systems.)

    The comment from Rocks in my Dryer also reminded me of something my mom said once. If God tells me to help you, and you refuse my help, you are depriving me of an opportunity to be obedient. Yikes! That puts a whole new spin on things!

  37. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    I don’t know that I can add anything to the discussion at this point, but this is a HUGE struggle for me as well.

    A few weeks ago, I realized that I even sweetly refuse help when someone offers to hold the baby while I get a plate of food. Ummmm…hello? That’s a no-brainer. But I’m so used to politely refusing help, I don’t even have the capacity to accept it. Part of that is because we move a lot, so I’m used to having to be incredibly independent. But — not good.

  38. Laura says:

    This past year and a half has been quite a struggle for us financially. We were on the verge of bankruptcy and at our lowest point found people we didn’t even know giving us money. It was an incredibly humbling experience. I was blown away by the extent that people were willing to go for us. I found that this experience has made me more willing to reach out to others and be more willing to accept when others reach out to me. I like to feel that there is a nice balance. If you feel uncomfortable with people helping you, then think about how you feel when you get to help someone. Then, after letting someone help you, make a point of trying to help someone else in return.

  39. Melanie B says:

    Oh i can so sympathize. After the baby was born via c-section my parents each came to stay for three weeks, first my mom and then my dad. It was so hard to have them helping me. I appreciated their thoughtfulness and really did need the help; but they never did things the way I wanted them to be done and they never ever asked how I liked things done. My dad gave the toddler all sorts of snacks I’d never give her, my mom let her watch Elmo, who I can’t stand. Of course we survived but I did a lot of gritting my teeth and was not at all good at expressing my gratitude.

    And I’m terrible about taking friends and family up on offers to watch the kids, I hate calling my sister-in-law to babysit even though I watched her kids all the time when she was pregnant. I hate to feel like I’m imposing.

  40. Momma Mary says:

    Has God given you a direct line to the thoughts in my mind, and the way I feel? I have certainly been struggling with this lately.

    You are with it!

  41. The Koala Bear Writer says:

    oooh, you hit a nail on the head. #1 advice to new moms: let others help you. Me? I’m like you – too proud to ask for help and a bit of a control freak. So when I break down exhausted and me hubby reminds me of everyone who would help if only I asked… well, you’ve reminded me I need to keep working on this. :)

  42. Lisa says:

    As I was blog hopping tonight, I happened upon your blog and spotted this post.
    I really enjoyed reading it and all the great comment from the other bloggers.
    It made me ponder my own situation and letting others help. I don’t have a choice in letting others help me. Just something I have to do. By no means is it easy for me to accept this though, still working on that part.
    What really struck me while reading the comments though, was the mention of the Works of Mercy. That’s something we learn and teach to our children, but I had never given it any thought that there has to be people on the receiving end of those acts of mercy.
    I’m sure the Good Lord lead me here tonight to help me to be a better receiver of the acts that all the kind people in my life are called to do.

    Sheesh, now I feel like an ungrateful brat. I better go pray in thanksgiving for all my Blessings.

  43. Bonnie says:

    Being a new mom I’ve had to face this, too. I always loved having it all together – tidy house, bills paid, plenty of sleep, cookies baked, friends corresponded with – you get the picture. But when my daughter came all of that stopped and I had to swallow my pride. Grandmas help with laundry. Friends, family and former coworkers are providing meals. What I’ve learned is that many people offer and more importantly – THEY MEAN IT! You just have to ask while the offer still stands.

    And at this point there is no one I’m afraid of asking for help. I guess I always wanted to be the Good Samaritan, but really, at least right now, I’m the Jew who’s been beaten and robbed.

  44. Marianne Thomas says:

    Jennifer, I stumbled your site earlier this week and this is my first chance to get back.

    Love it! I’m a cradle Catholic but I was raised by only one Catholic parent (the other, an avowed atheist), so your story resonates with me.

    Ok, ’nuff about me.

    On this issue of help – been there. I had 3 kids in 4.5 years and moved 2x during that period. Life was busy.

    But taking help from others always seemed a sign of weakness on my part. Looking at it now (and I still need help, baby!), I see myself wrapped in pride rather than humility.

    I told a friend of mine once (four kids, same issue) that sometimes the biggest gift you can give another person is to graciously accept their gift of themselves, their help and concern. As a mommy trying to be SuperMommy, this can be challenging, but it’s good for the souls of all involved.

    Must run along to my wee tribe! I’ll be back soon to read more!

    :)

  45. Jennifer F. says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to respond to comments, but I just wanted to quickly jump in and thank you all for your thoughts.

    One thing that jumps out at me is that a few people talked about resisting help for fear that the person helping would realize that our kids / homes / etc. are not “perfect” — YES! That wasn’t clear in my mind when I wrote the post, but that is a *big* issue (linked to pride, of course) that I need to work on as well.

    Anyway, thank you all again! I always read every comment, I just don’t always have a chance to reply. :)

  46. Sarah says:

    i’m trying to catch up…have been taking a media break so to say. but i completely relate…your description of yourself completely fits me too to a T.

  47. Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller says:

    I always had trouble asking for help and my friends and family thought I was so self-sufficient that they stopped offering. So when I really needed it, homeschooling and pregnant with my fourth, I felt really frustrated and alone. Now my children are old enough to give me the help I need, and I enrolled my children in Catholic school, so things are much better. If you take the time to train your children to do things themselves, it really pays off down the road. Many blessings on a healthy pregnancy! I found your post through Koala Bear Writer.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I understand that many in the Church feel like they have to be 'in control' to be a good Christian but I have a friend 'outside' the Church who doesn't want to give up 'control' to God.

    How did being a 'control freak' make it difficult for you to give control over to God and to put your trust in His Sovereignty for your all aspects of your life?

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] I couldn’t possibly…” reaction, but I remembered that I’m trying to work on accepting the help that God sends me so I said a reluctant yes. “Besides,” I thought presciently, “Letting someone […]