Due to injuries resulting from a major car accident which left me bed-bound, I have ample personal experience knowing that asking for help is not an easy thing to do.
I remember the time when my weekly Bible study was moved from its usual location. When I arrived, my heart sank upon discovering that the family had a “shoes off at the front door” policy. Unfortunately, I had chosen to wear lace-up shoes that evening. It was during the first year of my recovery process, and my left arm and leg were still weak. Hence, putting on and removing those shoes involved a painstaking, arduous process of lacing-and-tying single-handedly.
I definitely wasn’t comfortable letting people see that! As the Bible study neared completion, my focus shifted to mulling over the potentially embarrassing scene of a 20-something-year-old adult struggling to tie her shoelaces—or I could get over myself and ask one of the many new faces in the room to do it for me.
I ended up going with the latter and—as is often the case—it turned out to be no big deal. The incident reinforced a simple principle: if you want help, just tell others how they can assist you.
A few months later, I was out for dinner with some good friends and ordered a pizza for myself. Inwardly, I was rather satisfied with my choice of food: eating it would be a one-handed job, easily and inconspicuously handled by my stronger right hand.
But when the soft, thin pizza was set in front of me, it was obvious that slicing it was going to require some dual-hand maneuvering.
Sensing my conflicted mind, my very observant and kind friend took the initiative and offered to cut my pizza for me. Though I was touched by his thoughtful offer, I decided the situation was an important opportunity for me to do the best I could, on my own. At the time, I was just beginning to relearn basic activities of daily living, eager to complete everyday tasks independently. I’m not sure whether the pizza was much easier to cut than I had expected, or my left hand had simply performed brilliantly—but it was a success.
These two examples are different. In the first, I found it appropriate to ask for assistance, but in the second, I needed to give myself the opportunity to be independent; I needed to try, to know whether I could succeed.
Considering both situations, I believe that when it comes to asking for help, there is simply no one-size-fits-all approach. But having been a recipient of assistance so many times, here are some things I’ve learned when it comes to asking for help—or receiving it.
1. Ask if you need it
Like my first example showed, sometimes it’s just not easy.
But if you think about it, the Gospels show that Jesus affirms, helps, and praises the very people who cry out to God and show dependence on Him. There is nothing embarrassing about asking for and receiving help.
In fact, many of Jesus’ miracles stemmed from requests. In Luke 8, for example, Jairus pleaded with Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter. To cut a long story short, Jesus was delayed and Jairus’ daughter died, but ultimately, Jesus raised the girl from the dead.
2. Reframe your thinking
Sometimes, it simply means putting aside your pride. Other times, it means viewing such instances as providing a sanctifying opportunity to those around you. Perhaps it took them a great deal of courage to ask you if you needed help. Perhaps they’re learning to be more loving to their neighbors.
At the same time, you are being given the chance to ask for help humbly, and to show gratitude when you get it.
3. Offer grace to all
While the help offered or the way it is offered may not be perfect, do appreciate the intentions of the people who attempt to do so. As for those who do not give aid, give ample grace—I believe we have all faced the insecurity and dilemma of when and how to offer help.
The truth is, we won’t get things right all the time. Sometimes we might feel offended if someone offers help, sometimes it might be because they didn’t. However, as Christians, it is not possible to be wronged by others to the same degree that we have sinned against God. Remembering how deeply God has loved us and how far He has removed our transgressions makes all the difference to our response (Psalm 103:11-12).
The next time you have an opportunity to request for assistance, would you take it, and be grateful for the help?