So, I have a little problem.
Okay, it might be a big problem.
My problem is that I *hate* asking for help. (Please, can I get a few ‘amens’ from the peanut gallery here so I know I’m not alone?) My father was a typical, burly Midwestern “man’s man,” and he raised his daughters to always seek the path of self-sufficiency. “We can do it all, and we can do it alone” might as well have been our family motto. And while there’s nothing wrong with encouraging young people to take care of themselves (that is the goal of parenting, after all), as usual, my brain (and my heart) took this message to the extreme. 2 + 2 must equal 4, right? So, in my mind, if being self-sufficient was good, then that must mean that reliance on anyone else is bad.
That, unfortunately, was the message I took away from my father’s lessons. And it is a misconstrued and misunderstood sentiment that has haunted me my entire adult life.
Now, when I was a single girl, living on my own, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I had to rely on myself because myself was all I had at the time. But, once I got married, it was a different story. I had a partner now, a helpmate specifically designed by God to “do life with.” And, while I adored my husband, I refused to let him help me.
This all came to a head one day a few years ago when I was trying to re-arrange some furniture in our home. We had just had a baby, and our old layout wasn’t exactly “baby proof” enough for a child who was getting more and more mobile by the minute. Now, moving furniture around a hard enough task for anyone, but especially for someone who had only given birth a few months prior. M husband was out for the day, but I wanted the house re-arranged now.
I didn’t need him anyway. I could do it all myself.
And I did. For the most part.
Until I got to the wine rack.
The rack itself wasn’t particularly heavy, but it was big and bulky. Much too big and bulky for this 5’3″ frame. My body was incapable of moving it simply because, physically, I was much too small. Mentally, however, I was determined to do it one way or another.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what happened next. Of course I tried to move it, and of course I couldn’t do it and of course the cabinet tipped and of course wine bottles shattered all over the floor, destroying several priceless bottles we’d purchased in Europe and were saving for my husband’s retirement.
It took hours to clean up all that wine. Much more time than if I’d simply waited a little longer for my husband to return home and assist me in moving the rack.
Which is, of course, exactly what he asked me when he finally did come home. Why didn’t I wait? He would have gladly helped me.
It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t want to wait (although that was part of the problem). It was that I wanted to prove I didn’t need his help. I wanted to do it all on my own.
It took staring at my husband’s bewildered face (and the puddles of red wine still oozing into the ruined grout) to finally awaken my soul to truth: what I wasn’t doing wasn’t being self-sufficient; instead, I was merely being prideful.
You see, there is nothing wrong with self-sufficiency. Growing your own healthy food, knowing how to change your own tire, keeping your home neat and tidy–those are all hallmarks of maturity and responsibility. They are being good stewards of your time and possessions, taking care of yourself in an effort to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to bless others.
Pride, on the other hand, is different. Pride is self-sufficiency done, not for the sake of self-care, but out of a desire to elevate your own sense of self-importance at the sacrifice of others. It is not only building yourself up, but putting others down by denying their worth and value in your life.
This pride masked as self-sufficiency has been a major obstacle I’ve had to work through in my marriage. It’s also been a huge hinderance in my relationship with God.
One of the first steps towards true intimacy with our Savior comes from recognizes our need for one. There are many things in life I may be able to do on my own…but I cannot reconcile myself to God. I cannot redeem myself. And I certainly cannot save myself.
Only Jesus can do that.
And I can only have an authentic and meaningful relationship with Him when I come to full understanding of just how helpless I really am.
We all have a longing for God, whether we recognize it or not, and a desire for a place not of this world. But, since the Garden of Eden, we have sought to “do it ourselves.” Our forefathers ate the forbidden fruit in an attempt to be like God. Because, if we were like God, we wouldn’t need God, right? Centuries later, men attempted to build a tower that would take them heaven–without the assistance of God–before God confused their language and scattered them around the earth. Even when God finally gave us the Law, showing us pathways to live a holy life, we couldn’t do it. Men tried. They pretended. They even added other things to the law, thinking more rituals and rules would bring us closer to heaven.
And still, we just couldn’t do it.
So God did it Himself.
The beauty of God’s gift was that most of us never even asked for a Savior. Knowing the pride and depravity in our human hearts, God sacrificed His one and only Son for us without us ever even asking for help. Because He knew what we needed, even if we didn’t. He understood our helplessness even when we were too prideful to admit it.
And, to me, I believe that’s the most awe-inspiring aspect of salvation. Salvation comes, not because of anything we do, but because of what Jesus has already one. We receive salvation through His actions when we bow our heads in reverence and pray for His presence in our hearts in lives, accepting His gift and His Lordship. When we have faith that what He’s done is enough; we can’t add anything to it. And that simple faithful prayer is the most powerful act we can ever do.
It is an act of surrender. More than that, it is an act of pure and simply helplessness.
When we finally stop trying to “do it all ourselves” in our relationship with God, we open the door to His amazing power. When we admit we need help, it frees us from the bondage of pride and shows us just how glorious true humility can be.
Yes, I can admit now that I need help. But Jesus doesn’t. He needs only access to our hearts.