On Wednesday evening I read the verse, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). I wish I had read it last week, or even a few days earlier. I wish I had remembered it.
These last few days have been difficult. It began with frustration concerning my scheduled student loan payments on Sunday and culminated with me lying on my bed most of Tuesday questioning my purpose in this life. If I hadn’t had work to do, I might still be there, staring at the ceiling with tears falling every so often. I was filled with an unexplainable emptiness. My heart was lonely and my soul hollow. I remember looking in the mirror as I washed my face and wondering if my eyes looked dead. I felt dead, parts of me at least.
Everything was effort. Finding something to eat. Choosing something to wear. Opening up my computer and writing with any purpose. Just opening my eyes and ensuring they blinked every so often. Nothing came easily. I was embroiled in a war with myself to see how depressed, how apathetic, how discontent I could make myself feel. It was some sort of sick challenge.
And I’m sure watching an entire season of Breaking Bad in one day did not help.
I avoided everyone. Partly because I simply wanted and needed to be alone, but also because I didn’t want to burden them with my poor attitude or problems. I knew I was bad company. I knew I was a struggling mess of cynicism and pessimism. Part of me enjoyed being that way, and I didn’t want anyone to have to see it or feel obligated to help me through it.
I would make it through on my own. I always do. I have to.
We like to take care of ourselves. It’s a point of pride with us. All of our problems, struggles, issues, frustrations, they are for us to sort out on our own. Asking for help is like waving a red flag at our weaknesses. Asking for help means that people know we are struggling. It means that people will see that we don’t have everything together. It means turning ourselves inside out and making everyone aware of just how not in control we are. It means being vulnerable and weak. It means putting ourselves in a place where we don’t have the answer. It means failure.
Our society has become a culture of do-it-yourself. We live it and breathe it. It is our mantra, our slogan. It has defined who we are. Anything you need, any problem you have, any question that plagues you, you can sort out for yourself. We are a people with Google, WebMD, and Wikipedia at our fingertips. We can discover the answer for anything with a few well-placed clicks. We don’t need the experts, because we can figure it out for ourselves.
And if we can’t figure it out, well, it must not have been that important to begin with.
In my three days of frustration, never once did I ask for help. Never once did I acknowledge to someone that I was struggling, sincerely and truly struggling. I never let on that I was in the midst of an emotional breakdown and perhaps an existential crisis. Nor was I willing to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to keep from crumbling under the pressure.
And never once did I pray. Never once did I fall on my knees and beg for peace. Never once did I reach for my Bible, seek out words of encouragement from my loving Father. Never once did I ask Him to take on my burdens, my worries, my fears, and my sadness. Never once did I give it up or let it go.
Never once did I trust Him with my well-being.
We think it makes us strong to pull through on our own. We think we’re better because of it, when we prove we aren’t dependent on something outside of ourselves to help us along. We prove we are able, capable, and in control. We can muddle through and come out the other side.
I hate muddling through. I hate that I’m barely treading water to keep from sinking. And I hate that there is a lifeline floating right beside me, but I would rather attempt to swim to shore on my own than accept someone’s help.
We cripple ourselves with our independence. We limit ourselves. We lie to ourselves when we believe that asking and accepting help means being weak and being a failure. We’ve done ourselves a disservice by buying into a culture that says your problems are your own, your failures are your burden, and only you can fix them.
Can you imagine how much better, how much more, how much greater we could be if we didn’t see asking for help as a last resort?
God never tells us we must suffer or struggle or muddle through by ourselves. Jesus tells us not to worry, for if we seek His kingdom first, our needs will be met. Peter writes that we are to cast our anxiety and fears onto God for He will care for us. Paul writes that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
Our relationship with Christ; our personal, spiritual relationship with a loving, merciful, forgiving God is a partnership, a marriage. We give our lives and hearts to Him. We promise to love Him with our hearts, minds, and souls. We go into the world and serve Him and glorify Him with all that we have and all that we are, and He provides for us and loves us. He takes care of us. He is there is our darkest hour and in our moment of triumph.
He will never leave us or forsake us. His Spirit dwells within.
And He’s given us each other, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He’s given us the Church, a means of fellowship and a place for encouragement. He puts people in our lives who love us, care about us, and want to be there for us. He blesses us with relationships that go beyond the trivial, and we are meant to take part in them.
We are allowed to break down, freak out, and mess up. We are allowed to ask for help. We are allowed to call upon our best friend, our sister or brother, our parents or spouse, our pastor or mentor and ask them to pray for us and with us. We have permission to be vulnerable. We can show weakness. And there is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer.
Because the truth is, more often than not, we aren’t going to know the answer. We aren’t going to be able to find a simple solution courtesy of Google. There are going to be days when we have to recognize that we quite frankly can’t do it ourselves. But we can also recognize that turning to God in the midst of our struggles doesn’t make us failures. Asking for prayer and encouragement doesn’t mean you’re deficient or inadequate.
It just means you’re human. It means you’re exactly who God created you to be. You don’t always have to be strong. Only strong enough to ask for help.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts. And maybe follow me on Twitter?