It’s OK to Ask for Help

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I’ve been married to my chef/husband for 18 1/2 years and there are numerous things I know now that I wish I knew in the beginning.  One of them is that it’s OK to ask others for help.  With Tom working so many hours to provide for us, there have been many times I have needed help, but too afraid to ask.  I wish I could tell you I learned this early on, but it was not until recently that I really came to accept this as a fact.  If I truly need help, it’s OK to ask.

When I say afraid to ask, I was not worried that my family or friends were going to yell ant me and say no.  Asking for help would mean I would have to admit to others and myself that I wasn’t Super Mom, Super Wife or Super Friend.  I couldn’t do everything for myself and I wasn’t willing to accept that.

I wrote the other day about how hard it was when my husband broke his back.  It’s one thing to ask for help and support when you are going through a difficult time, but for the first time recently, I had to ask for help with a basic task, which not only was hard to admit I couldn’t do this, but it made me feel old.  (I’m 39.)  If I did not ask for help, it was either not going to get done at all, or I was going to be crying by the end of it from pain.

Let me start of by admitting that when it comes to sickness and injuries I really have nothing to complain about.  Thanks to my built up immune system from being a teacher, I can usually fight off most germs the kids bring home from school with them.  But last summer, I fell down a hill during games at VBS at church. I ended up hurting my shoulder, making it tough to do some stuff around the house. The funny thing about an injury is that you don’t really know how much you use that part of your body until it all of a sudden hurts every time you do something.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

It's ok to ask for helpWho knew that hanging up clothes in a closet, ironing and scrubbing chef coats, putting dishes away in a cupboard, pushing a shopping cart full of groceries and a small child, and mowing the lawn, could hurt so much.  I also have trouble relaxing when things are a mess, so I don’t do very well when I’m told to take it easy.  While there are many things that could possibly be be skipped for a short period of time if you are sick, some things can’t be ignored for months at a time when you are in pain.  Dirty clothes, dirty dishes, dirty chef coats and needing to have food in the house can’t be ignored!

Like I’ve said before, my husband would be happy to help with things around the house.  But really, how horrible would it be to work 70 hours and come home to piles of laundry and dishes and a huge shopping list that all need to be taken care of.  Sure if he had to, he would do it.  But I am going to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.  There are some things the kids can do of course.  And they do.  But they are not old enough to mow the law or strong enough to push a cart full of groceries at Costco (at least not without running into something or someone.)

So just as my chef/husband goes to work on days when his back hurts, I go grocery shopping and push the cart, or hang up lots of little kid clothes in the closet.  Sometimes you just do what you have to to take care of your family. So while I might not like it, sometimes I just need to suck it up and be in a little (or a lot) pain or ask for help.  🙁

But here’s what I’ve come to accept.  It’s okay to ask for help when you’re sick or hurting. It’s OK to hire a babysitter so you have a minute to yourself. It’s OK to pay a high school student to mow your lawn.  It doesn’t make you a bad wife or mom.  It means you are human.  (I say this more as a reminder to myself than to those of you reading.)  I am not Super Mom or Super Wife and should stop trying to be.

So what is this extreme situation that brought me to this realization . . . drum roll please. . . A TRIP TO COSTCO.  I know, you were probably expecting something amazing, but that’s it.  Just a trip to COSTCO with a 4 year old and a very full cart of groceries.

It was December. My shoulder was really bothering me.  Tom was scheduled to have 3 days off the entire month. I was dreading going to Costco because I knew that the weight of the shopping cart and the lifting of heavy things into the cart would really hurt my shoulder and make the rest of the day and week harder.    So my option was to suck it up and just do it, or ask for help.

I finally decided to send an email to a friend to ask if she would mind meeting me there after work one day and pushing the cart.  I’m 39!  This is a basic task!  I’m too young to have to ask for help with this!  That was really hard for me to do.  I’m sure my friend will be surprised to read that this was so hard, because she responded immediately and said she would be happy to do it. If the situation were reversed and a friend asked me, I would of course say yes and happily help.  So why is it so hard to ask for help?  Ugh!!  Oh right, because I want to be Super Mom and Super Wife.  GRRRRR!

This past week I started thinking about asking for and needing help a little differently because of a passage that came up in Bible Study.  We were studying what the Bible says regarding care and regard for one another.  Phil. 2:3-9 was the passage we were looking at.  Verses 3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

That’s probably not a verse you were expecting after what I’ve been writing.  It didn’t come to mind because  I expect people to come running whenever I need help.  But being in need myself made me think about others around me who are in far greater need than I am.  Yes my shoulder is throbbing and my arm is tingly and hurting as I type this.  But I’ll live.  I didn’t need help today with anything I had to get done.  The bigger question is, am I looking out for the interest and needs of others, even while I am in pain myself?  Funny how being in a situation yourself really makes you think about how you respond to others in a similar situation.  In this case I was convicted!

It’s easy to help someone when they ask for it, but am I communicating enough with my friends and asking the right questions to see their needs and help before they even ask? If its hard for me to ask for help, I’m sure it’s hard for them as well. Am I truly involved enough in the lives of my friends and family that I can be a support and help them without them even asking?  (And how do I do this from 19 hours away??  I have no idea on this one!!)

A lot of times if we ask if we can help someone, they say they’re fine. But what if I were to just show up to help?  What if I just called and said, “Hey, I’m bringing dinner for your family tomorrow,” instead of asking if I could.

A couple years ago a group of people showed up to rake the leaves at our house because we had not been able to do it due to my husband injuring his back. If they would have asked me ahead of time, I would have told them we were fine and to not worry about it, knowing in my head the leaves would just continue to sit there because I couldn’t get to them.  But they just showed up and did it because they saw the need.  What a blessing they were to our family!

So this week as I pray for healing of my shoulder and continue my physical therapy exercises, as I thank God for a husband who is willing and able to help me shop at Costco on Friday, I pray also that God will show me how I can reach out and help others this week as I see the need.

Does anyone else struggle with asking for help?

Update March 2016: With my diagnosis of Stage IV Breast Cancer, asking for help has no longer been an option.  While my husband in his corporate chef position has been around a lot more, he still works long hours and there have been many days I have been able to care for our home and kids without help.  Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help!!  I know it’s not easy, but let others help if they ask and are willing!

From one chef’s wife to another,

Jennifer

 

 

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