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Relying on God and asking for help: Finding the Christian way

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Cecilia Pigg - published on 05/09/23

Self-reliance can be called ungodly because none of us can accomplish anything without God.

“Hey, I heard you are sick on top of being newly pregnant. Could I watch your kids some afternoon this week for you?” I texted her with a sigh, knowing what her answer would be already. I have tried to help this friend out over the few years we’ve known each other, and she always gently refuses my offers.

My phone vibrated a couple of hours later, and I checked it. Sure enough, she texted back something lighthearted and funny while denying my help. I groaned out loud in frustration. For some reason, this time it really got to me, and I started monologuing to myself. “Why won’t she let me help her? She’s not superhuman! She has helped me countless times with errands and childcare, and I just can’t get over that she won’t accept my help. Maybe it is personal, like she just dislikes or is uncomfortable with me helping her? It could be that.”

As I started to settle into a stewing session over why she would keep rejecting me, a shot of grace inoculated me. I realized that I also rarely accept people’s help, and that perhaps I have made others feel this way too. Ugh, now instead of being able to just blame my friend for her failings, or nurse my hurt pride as I made excuses for her, I had to do some self-examination of my own.

I thought back to a Bible study I had been a part of. That was the first time I heard the phrase “ungodly self-reliance” and when I heard it, I cringed. That phrase described a huge motivating force within me. I hate the thought that I’m inconveniencing someone, and work to avoid that at all costs. It turns out though, that asking people for help (in my mind, “inconveniencing them”) is pretty crucial in building relationships.

The Bible study had talked about how self-reliance can be called ungodly because none of us can accomplish anything without God. If we don’t learn that we are dependent on God, we don’t think to pursue a relationship with him. This bleeds into all of our other relationships too. I notice this in my friendships and marriage and even in my parenting. 

My marriage doesn’t work well when I refuse to rely on my husband, and try to do everything myself. He feels hurt and/or I feel resentful, and our relationship suffers. My friendships stay superficial when I refuse to be vulnerable, and superficial friendships don’t help me much when I want to be able to feel known and connected. I watch when my kids think they can do something on their own, and then get hurt because what they are trying to tackle is too big for them without my help. 

I want to finish this by writing about how I’m getting better at asking for help. Unfortunately, I really haven’t made much progress in this area of my life. I still have a hard time accepting help when other people freely offer it to me, and am nowhere near being adept at reaching out of my own accord when I am struggling. I know that, like everything in life, I need to take baby steps to form a new habit. The more I reach out and stretch my “ask for help” muscle, the easier it will become.

St. Basil the Great said, “O sinner be not discouraged but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities. Call her to your assistance.” So, in his footsteps in this month of May, I pray, “Mary, teach me how to ask for help!”

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