I had an encounter with a woman once that I just couldn’t get off of my mind. I was at the gas station when she walked by me, pushing a shopping cart. The woman had a small boy with her, and her cart was filled with various items that were clearly their personal things.
As I waited for my gas to finish pumping, I watched her walk by thinking that maybe I should say something to her. Because I am human, though, and I don’t always do the right thing, I didn’t call out to her. Instead, I thought about the money that I had in my purse, a large amount because I was on my way to make a big purchase, and justified that I couldn’t offer her anything because I didn’t have any small bills.
When the gas stopped and I got back in the car, I started to drive off, but then stopped and called to the woman. I greeted her and then asked if everything was okay. She first responded, “Yes! Oh, yes! Everything is fine.” Then she sighed and said, “No. Actually, things are not okay. We are living in a hotel, and I just made this sign to stand on the side of the freeway to get enough money to pay for our room for tonight.”
I reached in my purse, grabbed some bills, and told her that I hoped it would help. She thanked me, told me her name, and introduced me to her 4 year old son. She let me know that she was going through a bit of a rough patch, and I let her know that I understood.
While I have never had to live in a hotel, there have been times when money was so tight that I had to ask for help with getting groceries. If not for the grace of God, and the generosity of others, things would have been a lot more challenging for me. As we started to say goodbye to each other, she asked me to pray for her, to pray for them. I promised her that I would, and watched them walk away.
That evening, in my Bible study class, one of my sisters was talking about being broken, and learning to ask for support when she needs it. The meeting that I’d had with the woman at the gas station came to mind, and God placed it on my heart to share with the group. There was a big lesson for me in our encounter, and it only became clear as I was retelling the tale.
Although it may seem obvious, it may not always be clear to others when we are in need. We have to ask for help.
The woman I met had a shopping cart full of her possessions, and yet I still asked her if everything was okay. Maybe I was hoping that she’d say yes, everything was fine, and keep walking. Perhaps I was subconsciously nervous about offending her. Whatever it was that held me back initially from offering her support, it should have been clear that she needed support.
When I reflect on times that I’ve been in need, I can recall being at practically rock bottom before I reached out for a lifeline. By the time I did finally ask for help, folks were typically surprised that things were as bad as they were because I always acted like life was sunshine and roses.
Fortunately, over the years, I’ve learned that it’s my responsibility to ask for help when I need it. I can’t expect for other folks to know that something is wrong, especially when I’m doing everything I can to pretend that everything is okay.
Do you do that, too?
Do you pretend to hold it together even when things are falling apart?
When you need help, do you ask people to pitch in and give you support? Are you honest with others when they ask if you’re okay, or if you need help?
Many women, moms and not, are so used to taking care of others that we don’t even consider that other folks might want to take care of us. I don’t even mean when we get to the rock bottom point. Even simple things like asking someone to watch your kids so you can get some much rest, or getting other parents to volunteer on the committee at school that we’re leading.
We have to get out of that habit. We don’t have to be saints.
The Bible says in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
I know it can feel uncomfortable to ask, or even to respond to someone asking how you’re doing. While I can’t promise that discomfort won’t be there, I can give you exact words on how to actually ask for help.
If someone asks if you’re doing okay
Thank you for asking. I’m not doing great. Here’s what I’m going through. I need help doing xxxx. I appreciate you even considering.
If someone asks if you need something
Yes. Thank you for asking. Specifically, I need XYZ.
We are not in this world alone. People will help if they know that we need it. We just have to let them know that we’re in need.