Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When we need help

"I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Ps 121:2

"I need you to help me!"  How often do your kids ask you for help every day?  Isabelle asks me to help her virtually every time I ask her to do something.  However, her definition of help and mine seem to be very different.  Hers involves me doing it for her and mine involves standing over her and giving directions.

I don't really blame her for thinking help means I do it for her.  When you think about all the ways you help your kids when they are pre-schoolers it is easy to see how they might get that impression.  Pretty much every time I did something for her I would say, "let me help you".  When she needed her hair done, her bed made, her food cut, her butt wiped...I did it for her rather than assisting her in the task.

I admit, I like to help my kids by doing things for them.  It is fast and easy and when the task is done everyone is happy and ready to move on to more pleasant activities.

I started thinking about what the word "help" really means. says:

To give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength; render assistance; cooperate effectively with.
When she was 2 and I was cutting up her food I am sure it fell under that category but now at 8 when I cut up her food...I believe what is necessary at 8 "to accomplish a task or satisfy a need" is to let her do it herself.  Otherwise she will always be asking someone else to cut up her food.  And at some point that just gets awkward.  It is a tough lesson to realize that "help" no longer means mom will do it for you but she will be better for it.

Other definitions include:

To save; rescue.
 As Jake moves into adulthood and begins to express a desire to make his own decisions and become independent from us one of the things I am looking at is how much I have helped him over the years.  How many times I have saved and rescued him and made his life much easier.

When Jake was in jr. high I remember talking to a fellow jr high mom.  We were both frustrated with our sons lack of responsibility and lack of engagement in their own future success.  She said she was not rescuing her son because he was getting older and she wanted him to learn to take responsibility for his life and suffer the consequences of failure.  She believed he would learn from that.  Now I do not think that is a bad approach but I specifically remember thinking, "well, that is not going to happen."  I  had absolutely no intention of letting my son fail at that age.  I was still home at that time and was perfectly willing and able to stay on top of all the tasks and activities before him and see to it that he was successful.  I believed that he needed to be motivated by experiencing success, he wouldn't seek out success if he hadn't experienced it before.  I believed that once on the right path he would eventually take the baton and run with it.

However, I will admit that as I send him off to adulthood, to do all those things for himself that I have done for him all these years, I am starting to see the wisdom in her approach  I worry that he is not equipped, that he has never had to problem solve, to meet a deadline without my reminder, to suffer the consequences of not following through.  But most of all, as I watch him slowly navigate these waters I worry that he doesn't know how to ask for help because it has always just appeared before him.  I wonder if he will figure it out before he fails.

I am not worried too much though.  I may have done everything for him but I was narrating every step of the way.  He might not have done it but he has seen it done and knows what it looks like.  There will be bumps in his path and I pray that he will ask for help, seek assistance when needed and know that, if he asks, we will always rescue him.

Yesterday I learned about a new kind of help.  People helping me.

John and I got married young and from the start we felt we had something to prove.  We knew people thought we would be living in poverty because we didn't go to college so supporting ourselves without help and doing well has definitely been a point of pride over the years.  (Sinful pride or appropriate pride?)  Yet here we are struggling.  We have struggled before and made it to the other side so I am not worried but it is never fun to be on this side.  Still, there is a plan.  We are restructuring our life this summer so that we can take care of ourselves for the next 4-5 years while John finishes school.  New work situations, new housing, new school, new attitudes.  I truly believe that by next fall we will be looking good, money in the bank and I might even get to color my hair again!  

But yesterday we weren't quite there. God taught me what it is to be humble and accept help.

My aunt asked if she could buy me groceries.  I wanted to say no, wanted to pridefully push through this temporary stage without help.  This is not an aunt with much means, I knew this offer was a great gift from her and I knew I needed to say yes.  It turned out to be more than an offer of food, she was truly going to help me, assist me.  She wasn't going to 
'give me a fish", do it for me, she was going to "teach me to fish", show me how to do for myself.  She brought me to a place called, "The Village".  It is a ministry where for a very small set price they fill up a box of food for you.  Actually the guy filled up 3 boxes of food!  Frozen meat and fresh produce.  My expectations were not super high going in but I was really overwhelmed by the amount of food he sent me home with.  Some stuff we haven't tried before and some of our favorites; Trader Joes orange chicken,  donated ribs from Famous Dave's (had that last night, yum!), steaks and a whole chicken.  So much food I seriously might not need to grocery shop for 2 weeks!  I was humbled and overwhelmed by what I was sent home with.

We all need help sometimes.  Different kinds of help at different times in our life.  We don't always get the kind of help we think we need, we sometimes forget to ask for help and we can be humbled by the help we receive.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." I Peter 5:6
What kind of help do you need this week?

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