I Do It Myself! (Something my 2 year old says, which, apparently, she learned from me.)

I'm just going to get right to the point (a rarity for me, I realize).  I do not like for people to help me.  I like to do it myself.  Whatever "it" may be.  I have always viewed asking for help as a sign of weakness, and by golly, I refuse to let anyone think I'm weak.  Even if it's true. 

Is this accurate at all?  Of course not.  Why do I feel like asking for help is weak?  Because I struggle with pride.  In a big way.  Maybe in the biggest way.  Meaning, pride is, as a Shakespearean scholar would say, my tragic flaw.  I surely hope it doesn't bring about my downfall, but if I keep it up on this course, it very well may.

That said...

I keep finding myself in situations where I cannot help but to rely on and even ask for help. 

It's almost as if God is trying to humble me.  Imagine that. 

Most recently, I was on my way to pick up Abby and Sarah from a VBS they were attending with our neighbors - just cruising down the road when I heard the distinctive sound of a tire pop.  I made it to the church a couple of miles away before the low-tire-pressure indicator light came on, and by the time I got the girls and came back out to my van, the tire was as flat as flat can be.  Kind of like my hair.

I called Sam - which is always my first reaction to anything.  (Sorry, Sam.)  He was unreachable at work or on his cell.  So, I took the kids around to the playground to kill some time.  I don't know a soul at that church, besides my neighbor who somehow ducked out without me noticing. I decided that I would wait everyone out and change the tire myself after everyone had gone home.  I know how to do it.  I just didn't want an audience.  Or worse, I didn't some stranger to help me.

It kept getting later and later and those people were still lingering and lingering.  Sarah had to go to the bathroom (or did she?  I think she was just tired of playing on the hot playground).  We traipsed inside, and when that was over we walked back out to the flat tire.  I was going to crank the a/c, buckle everyone in their seats, and do the thing. 

But then...

A nice lady in the van next to me got out and said, "Do you need a ride somewhere?" 

I politely declined.  She said, "I have four extra seats, but I see you need five. [Ben is away at the moment.]  Let me run inside and see if I can find someone else to help take you home."  I tried to convince her not to, but she ignored me.  What she returned with was two men who insisted that they were changing my tire right then and there.  At that precise moment, Sam called back.  I tried to tell them that my husband was coming and they said, "Tell him not to!  We're here and we're doing it.  Let him stay at work."


THEN, they sent me away with the kids.  I mean it.  They weren't taking no for an answer.  They told me to go the nursery and let the kids play while they changed the tire.  I told them it would at least be fitting for us to sit outside and be miserable and sticky with them, but they weren't hearing that.  So in I went, a first-time guest at this church, with four of my kids to play in the air-conditioned nursery at the back of the building, while two men I'd never met before changed my tire in the hot, noontime Georgia sun and humidity.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, one of the men appeared in the nursery with a smile on his face and two thumbs up.  They did it.  I smiled and thanked them.  Then I said, "Tell me your name." 

"Oh. I'm Paul.  I'm the pastor here.  And this is Randy, he's my assistant pastor."

Of course they were.

I welled up a little, because that's what I do.  Then I went home and baked them some brownies and wrote them a gushing thank you note about their servant leadership and living out Jesus to a stranger.  Because, that also is what I do.

Seriously.  That rocked.

I might have thought that having a flat tire with four kids in tow in a strange place where I know nobody would have turned out to be a bad memory, but it wasn't.  Because I got to see Jesus that day.

As an isolated event, this is still a great story, but I'd be lying by omission if I didn't at least mention some of the other ways God as provided me with help in a very tangible way in similar circumstances. 

On Saturday night, when my neighbor was home and able to watch our girls while we took Noah to the ER to check out mysterious swelling that showed up on his head in a matter of minutes.  (He's fine.)

Two weeks ago when my neighbor's daughter was available to keep my kids while I took profusely-bleeding Sarah to the doctor to have her foot stitched up.

A couple of months ago, when by a strange combination of events, my dad and I found ourselves stranded at an auto-parts store in Perry without a cell phone or a car, while our $50 order of fried chicken awaited us across town at Skipper Johns, a Ma & Pa operation that was closing for the night in less than 10 minutes.  I walked back inside the store to ask if I could use their phone and instead crossed paths with a lovely woman who was holding her cell phone in her hand.  I asked if I could use it and briefly explained our plight.  She handed the phone over, and I jokingly said, "You wouldn't want to drive us over to Skipper Johns, would you?"  To which she replied without hesitation and a smile on her face, "Sure, I'll do that."  Now, I know my dad is not young, but he is still strapping.  So, I admired her courage for taking a chance that we were not trying to rob and kill her.  I was absolutely shocked that she said yes as we drove the few miles to the chicken place, and as is the case when I get nervous, I began my non-stop chatter.  I said, "I don't make a habit of asking favors from strangers."  So she told me her name and said, "There.  Now we aren't strangers anymore."  I have since forgotten her name, but I know she's a friendly postman in the city of Perry.  So I'm pretty sure I could track her down and pay her back with some brownies, because...well, you know.

A few more months ago when I had a staph infection, a three month old, and a sky-high fever with five kids home all day and a dear friend showed up without asking to bring me dinner. 

Each of these circumstances was less than ideal to start with, but by the end, all I could see was God's provision.  All I could see was Jesus being lived out by his children.  And it was all because I accepted help that was available to me (begrudgingly at times, sure.  I'm not only prideful, but I'm also stubborn).  I gave these people an opportunity to bless me.  And I hope in some small way, that gave them joy and purpose.  This is what Jesus calls us to do.  Be his hands and feet.  To show Him to others with our lives.  These people all did that for me. 

I keep thinking of something a friend of mine has said several times - when you don't ask for or accept help, you are robbing someone of the blessing of providing.  I get that.  Some lessons are learned the hard way.

Now it's my turn.  To be the blessing.  Opportunity abounds.

I dare you to think back on some of your "misfortunes" and see them through the lens of God's provision.  I bet you gain a different perspective. 


Sharon said...

I've got to admit, I go both ways on this pride thing. Sometimes I'm like you, and I DO NOT want anyone's help. And other times, I fall helpless when I don't need to be. (Think whiney and couch potato). I believe that God calls us to be strong when needed, and strong enough to ask for and accept help when we need it.

Because if we don't, we may never admit that we need help from Him!!


(OK, sometime I need to know what was going on with Noah!!)

Debbie said...

Someday, I need to write you a very long (but more private than a comment) letter and tell you how much I admire you. It's not what you do that I admire. It's the way you think. You really have no idea how much I long for that type of heart and mind in my immediate fellowship area.

I would do it today, but I am on a serious diet, and I don't want you to get all guilty for having been commended and send me a batch of brownies or anything.

There is so much that I want to say here, but I'll leave it at that.

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