I’m the reason that the stereotype of the stubborn, “Mr. Fix-it” male still exists. It’s as though I have an internal mechanism that makes it virtually impossible for me to 1) allow any problem to not become my problem, and 2) ask for help when I happen to have a problem myself. Number 2 is more difficult to deal with. Sure, sometimes things are hard. Sometimes I’m in over my head. There are other times where I have absolutely no idea what to do. But no, I don’t need help.
These times of difficulty are marked by my really lame fake smile and a generally angry attitude. You want to be just like me, don’t you?
Here’s the deal, it’s hard for you to ask for help, too. Maybe not for everything, but almost certainly for something. Everyone has some stuff that isn’t emotionally significant, so we’re glad to ask for help – especially if we pay for that help. This is how I feel about rotating my tires. I know I could do it, but it’s not really help because the mechanic isn’t doing it out of the kindness of his heart.
Then there’s that one thing that you absolutely refuse to ask for help with. Maybe you’re stubborn, maybe you’re embarrassed, or maybe you’re just too apathetic to deal with it. We need to get past the question of why it’s hard to ask for help, and just acknowledge that it is.
This gives us freedom to ask a better question: what cost do we pay when we refuse to ask for help? This is one of the hardest questions for me to ask myself. When I answer this question, it puts me in a place of great fear. I’m not talking about an, “Oh, I’m scared of spiders” kind of fear. It’s more like an, “Oh dear Lord I’m gonna die!” kind of fear.
I was raised on bad 90’s action flicks where the hero is never actually scared – he only hesitates for dramatic effect. I don’t think I can blame these movies for my innate feeling that fear should be handled individually, but these movies offer a good caricature of how I operate.
This is the point of fear we all reach when we’re facing that thing that overwhelms us. We choose to live with the fear of facing difficulty on our own instead of the fear of acknowledging we have limitations and inabilities.
If this resonates with you, then you understand how this makes faith annoyingly difficult. If you’re not going to ask people you can see and have built trust with for help, then you’re going to have a tough time asking this invisible God shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions for help.
I get nervous to allow God to be helpful because I’m not always sure he’ll show up. Look, I read the Bible, and I don’t just go to a church, I work at a church. I like believing in God. I want to believe in God. I think the God story makes really good sense. But I’m genuinely afraid sometimes that if I ask God for help, he won’t show up. If he doesn’t show up, then what does that mean for the things I believe in?
Here’s the harder thing to admit: I don’t have an answer for this problem! I’ve tried a lot of things to make this particular fear go away, but I can’t shake it. Here’s the closest thing I have to an answer: I try to tell or record the story of my life with God at least twice a year. I do this is so I can identify the times I was afraid to ask God for help and he appears to have helped me anyway.
This doesn’t change how I feel – I’m still carrying my fear of asking for help and of being disappointed by God, but my feelings are challenged by another story. It is a story that is more objective than the whims of my feelings in the moment. By owning the story of my life lived with God, I see that:
God is not against me.
He is not distant from me.
He has not forgotten who I am.
He has not become disgusted with me.
There’s a good chance I drive God nuts. But my story tells me that even if I do drive him nuts, he’s not ready to bail on me. He may not do what I want, when I want – I guess since he’s God I should grant him that prerogative – but my story proves that he has not failed me.
I don’t know when I’ll finally be able to feel differently about asking for help or my fear that God won’t help. But until I do, I will keep retelling the story of my life with God. I hope that I will also keep seeing evidence that will challenge my feelings and give me a hope that I don’t have on my own. Until I can find the courage to ask for help, I’ll just have to keep acting like a person that needs help.