My words have been published in a book. By Tyndale. Sitting on store shelves.
To be clear, this isn’t my book but my words in a book.
But even more amazing – these words aren’t about me at all. They’re about you.
They’re about the incredible people who showed up, stepped in, came over and helped us in our lack.
What brings me to tears more than anything these days is the goodness of God.
And so much of His goodness came through his people.
Even as I write this I’m seeing the faces of all those who have helped us these last seven years. Hands that brought meals, lined my dining room with coolers, heaped a table with food, brought books for my kids, asked us out for dinner, fixed a water heater, replaced that water heater, appeared on our lawn at Christmas with carols and hot chocolate and stockings, cleaned our house, mowed the lawn, sent gift cards, showed up with hugs, remembered us with countless prayers, coached my boys, sponsored church camp, loved on my kids, cleaned up after a hurricane, sent notes and texts, gave us a car and did a thousand other things I hope I get to see in heaven.
We would not be where we are without that help.
Then, why is asking for help so hard?
It doesn’t come easy to me and I’ve learned it doesn’t come easy to most of us.
Our default is to fake fine and keep up a façade that we’ve got it all together. That it’s all under control.
When my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee asked her blogging community why we struggle to admit we need help, I responded with my own story. That’s what ended up in her just released book:
“Dozens of people shared their stories – people like my friend and fellow blogger Lisa Appelo. In 2011, her husband died of a heart attack at age forty-seven. Lisa and her husband had seven children, ages four to nineteen, when he passed away. Clearly she needed help. But she didn’t know how to ask. A friend suggested that she keep a running list of what others could do to help but she was unsure where to start. ‘I felt most things were too small, and they’d think, They should be able to manage that, because I did have teen boys at the time. Or they would look at this list and think, She’s asking a lot of us.’”
I never made that list. I was stuck in a place of vulnerability that I was too scared for anyone else to see.
Sharing my need felt like exposing all the places where I wasn’t enough — enough of a housekeeper or bookkeeper or organizer or hard worker.
It also felt like asking too much. I knew people were willing to help but were they willing to help that much?
Learning to ask for help means letting go of the façade that we’ve got it all together. It means cleaning out the plaque of pride that keeps us from saying, “I need help.” It means inviting others into our lack and watching God use them to meet our need.
Asking for help is as much about chiseling our heart as meeting our need.
Jennifer also shared this part of our story in her new book. Ben had called home and was wrestling through an offer of help that he felt was too big. How could he let even good friends help that much?
“Remember my friend Lisa Appelo? She and her family slowly learned to ask for help – and to receive it. A few months after her husband died, her oldest son called home from college. Friends offered to buy his college books for the semester; he didn’t know what to say. Lisa told her son, ‘Ben, they want to [help] because they love you . . . I want you to think about this: you’re headed to medical school. You’ll be at a place one day where you’ll be the one giving medical care on a mission trip or maybe in your own practice. You need to understand . . . what it feels like to receive so that you can give well.’”
God could just meet our need himself. But he chooses to use people because he’s doing more than meeting need — he’s shaping hearts.
I can look back and see we would not be where we are without help but neither would we be WHO we are without help.
It is vulnerable to ask for help.
It is humbling to receive help.
And it’s sacrificial to give help.
We were made for a community of real people who don’t have it all under control but are willing to raise a vulnerable hand to say, I need help” and then raise that same hand to offer their Saturday or casserole or elbow grease to someone else.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
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Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, is for every woman hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.
Portions from It’s All under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee, from Tyndale House Publishers.
**GIVEAWAY** I’m super excited to be a part of a huge giveaway of It’s All Under Control. Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies to celebrate its release! Enter HERE to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers.
Email subscribers can click here to enter.