We got a new air conditioner for the ministry’s fifth wheel trailer that we’ve called home for a while. The unit weighs about 100 pounds. Light enough that I can pick it up and move it around, but heavy enough that I can’t pick it up very high. That’s where the issue came in. I needed to get this hundred pound object onto a roof that is about twelve feet off the ground.
I thought about asking someone to help. But before I inconvenienced anyone, I wanted to think through all possible options of getting it done by myself. I knew a dead-lift was not possible. I’m neither that tall, nor am I that strong. I came up with a few options, one of which had a good possibility of working. Though all of them could have resulted in either me dropping the unit and damaging something, hurting myself, or both.
I’m not completely opposed to asking for help, I just don’t like doing it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been good at working alone and getting things done by myself. While this has seemed like a good quality, it really has worked against me many times.
Doing It The Hard Way
My Opa (grandfather) once told me, “Mark, you sure do seem to find the hard way to do things.” What I considered independence and self-sufficiency, he saw as a handicap to being able to achieve my full potential. He was right.
What drives me to not want to ask for help? It’s not that I don’t want others to ask me for help. I actually enjoy helping others. There’s a few factors that get in my way of asking for myself. The first is that I don’t want to inconvenience someone else. Everyone is so busy, or at least it seems that way, that it just feels wrong to interrupt their busyness to ask them to assist me with my needs.
Secondly, I’ve been let down by enough people over the years, that to ask and be told no is hard for me. It’s not unreasonable for them to not be available, and certainly okay to say no. But for some reason, even an acceptable response declining to help hits a place of rejection in me that I don’t want to make available.
Then there is the ultimate reason that I struggle to ask for help, pride. Yep, I still battle with that old enemy. By asking for help, I’m admitting that I’m not able to do it alone. I’m not sufficient, therefore, I’m not valuable. It’s a lie, or at least only a partial truth, but one that I’ve believed too much throughout my life.
Exposed To The Enemy
When considering my reasons for not asking for help, they’re just ruses of the enemy to keep me separated from others. God made us to be interdependent with other people. We are stronger together. If the enemy can get us to stand on our own, then he has us in a weakened position. All the better for him to be able to knock us off.
There is something that I dislike more than asking for help. The enemy getting the better of me, or winning at anything really. He is sly and deceptive. Often using our insecurities, or rationalizations, to get us to play into his hand. He may catch me here and there, but I refuse to let him win.
Over the past year, there have been plenty of opportunities for us to need the help of others. There was the time I was in Texas while Dallas was in Colorado and she had an issue with the trailer. There really was no other option, but to ask for help, as I was a thousand miles away. I needed help with some work on Mom and Dad’s house. Plus, several other times where I may have been able to do it alone, but it certainly was easier with someone helping. When I am willing to put my pride aside and ask for help, life is easier.
Stealing From Others
The other side of being willing to ask for help is that it allows other people to use their gifts and talents. In fact, if I do everything, then I am stealing opportunities from others. While handicapping myself, I’m holding someone else back from their purpose and potential.
Think about something you enjoy doing for other people. Maybe it is fixing things, or baking cookies, or opening doors, or anything that you get pleasure from by helping others. What if you never got to do that thing again because no one would let you help them? I’m sure that you would feel slighted and disappointed. You may even feel like you are of no use to others.
While we may think that we are not being a burden, we are taking away someone else’s joy in serving. Instead of inconveniencing them, we steal from them. How selfish it is of us who refuse to ask for, or receive, help from others. I apologize to all of you that I’ve cheated of the opportunity to help, because I was unwilling to receive it.
Up On The Roof
As I considered all of the options for getting that hundred pound AC unit onto the roof, I realized that I need to swallow my pride and ask for help. So, I walked over to our neighbor in the RV park and awkwardly asked if he would be willing to help me out.
It just so happens that he works as a contractor installing cabling. For his job, he owns a bucket truck. We tied the unit to the bucket, and he lifted it up without much physical stress. As we set the unit down on the roof, I said, “This feels like cheating, and it feels good.” What a blessing it was for me to receive his help. I hope that he was also blessed in the helping, as well as in the thank you gift we gave him afterwards.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)
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