In an individualized culture, we learn to make our own way, to bear our own burdens, and to loathe asking for help. The most stressful parts of trip planning for me is finding a ride to the airport and finding someone to keep my dog.
Asking for help is uncomfortable simply because self sufficiency is a deeply rooted American value, and we aren’t practiced at relying on others. Most of us can’t stand feeling like we “owe someone,” either.
Whenever I’m uncomfortable asking for help with something logistical, like the airport ride, Mike reminds me how quickly I’d say yes if the roles were reversed.
But here’s the thing: I’m willing to help, but I still have to be asked, most of the time. My schedule and plans don’t have enough margin for me to think proactively about how I can offer my time or help.
This verse haunts me sometimes, because it doesn’t say, “Say yes when someone asks for help.” It says, “bear one another’s burdens.”
For someone who’s had an agenda since I could walk, this doesn’t come easily to me. I usually call it “drive” or “ambition,” but it can also be selfishness.
I have room to grow on both sides. I’ll do anything I can to carry my burdens entirely on my own, to avoid admitting weakness to even my closest people. On the other hand, I’m usually too focused on my own needs and priorities to proactively ask those same people how I can help bear their burdens before they ask me. In all likelihood, they’ll never ask if I don’t offer first.
If I’m uncomfortable asking for a silly ride to the airport, how will I ever let anyone help with the weightier things, the ones threatening to crush me?
Here’s how I think most of us feel about community and friends:
- We want to be fully loved, but fear being fully known.
- We’re willing to help, if it fits within our busy schedules.
- We don’t want to ask for help unless we’re desperate.
- We want close friends, but we also want privacy and space – we don’t want them to look to closely.
- We love to laugh and celebrate with people, but crying together is awkward.
- We want to carry our own burdens, and carry theirs when it’s convenient.
- Not only do we not want help, we don’t even want anyone to know that we have burdens.
I’m tired of patting myself on the back for helping people with things that don’t matter, and leaving the heavy things for them to carry alone. I’m tired of keeping such a busy schedule that I feel interrupted by a phone call.
There’s a flip side to this, one I feel strongly about: we can’t bear everyone’s burdens. Energy and time are limited resources. I’m just tired of using them all up on my own stuff, bearing burdens I could really use some help carrying and keeping the people whose burdens I should be sharing at arm’s length.
I have no idea how to start shifting this, but like with most things, I think it starts small and it starts with vulnerability. If I want people to trust me to help carry their burdens, and trust me when I say I want to, I have to go first.
I have to ask for help with the burdens I’m carrying. I have to overcome the fear that they won’t want to help or will think less of me. It’s time to stop hiding and make myself available to carry and be carried.
This post is part of a 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.