Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Today, we are going to address the question of how to ask for help when you need it. Because, let’s be honest: we all need help. Can we just admit that right off the bat? Yet asking for help can be so incredibility difficult. So I want to explore why that might be and then walk you through some questions to help you get to the point where you can very clearly and simply ask others to help you during a specific season in your life.
While today, I am speaking to those situations where we need to be willing to ask for help when we need it, you can also listen to this to remember how hard it can be for someone to ask you for help. Maybe you have a friend you know is hurting, but who struggles to let others help her. Perhaps today you can gain some insight as to why that might be.
Okay, so first, I want to talk about the reasons why we don’t like to ask for help.
Number one, we don’t want to feel like a burden. We think that if someone else has to help us, it’s going to be a weight on them, something they’ll have to carry around. We think they aren’t going to want to help us, but they’ll do it out of duty, and who really wants to be helped out of a sense of duty?
Number two, we don’t want to appear needy or weak. We hate the idea that we can’t do it by ourselves. We think, I should be able to handle this. I should be able to take care of this on my own. We get trapped into the idea that it is our responsibility to personally take care of every single thing, whether we are struggling or not.
Number three, we feel guilty. Guilty that we’re taking time and energy away from the other person. Maybe they had to say “no” to something else that they really wanted to do so that they could help us. Maybe it is costing them money to help us, especially if they are helping with things like meals or car rides.
Number four, asking for help requires vulnerability and trust, and maybe we don’t want to have to trust others or be vulnerable with them. Maybe you’ve asked for help in the past and it was met with criticism. Maybe you don’t have that kind of relationship with anyone, and so to start developing that trust requires you to take the first step, and you’re scared out of your mind.
And number five, we’re afraid they will say no, and we’re not sure what that means. Does it mean they don’t want to help us? Are they really a friend? Will it just make the relationship awkward and you won’t know how to act from then on?
How many of those do you relate to? I think I’ve experienced all of them at some point. Even as a work from home mom, who only works part-time, I still have to ask for help when I need it. And these things still come into play, even though I’m not going through some great trial or grief right now. It’s simply part of everyday life.
Even though asking for help can be hard, it’s still important to reach out when we need it.
The truth is, we were not designed to do life alone. In Genesis, God declared that it is not good for man to be alone. And in Ecclesiastes 4:12, it says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
The more people you have woven into your cord, the stronger you will be. They’ll help hold you up when you can’t walk on your own.
Did you know that Job was known as an encouraging man? I love these verses about him:
“In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees.” (Job 4:3-4 NLT)
Do you ever feel like you’re falling? Like you have shaky knees? Like you’re weak? That’s what encourage is all about—coming alongside those who are hurting and carrying them through.
And honestly, my friend, living a Christian life is all about accepting help from God. Accepting His grace. Letting Him give you the strength and endurance and patience and love and self-control you need. If we can’t accept help from those around us who love us, I imagine it would be quite difficult to accept help from God, as well. And so often, His help comes in the form of those around us who want to support us.
So how do we do it? How do we ask for the help that we need? Let me walk you through a few steps—and because I really want you to work through these questions, I put this into a free guide you can grab at lovedoesthat.org/askforhelp.
First, write down ways you need someone to support you. What would be most helpful to you right now? Be as specific as you can. List things both big and small.
- Someone to take you to a doctor’s appointment each week.
- Someone to mow your yard.
- Someone to watch your kids for two hours.
- Someone to pray for you every day.
- Someone to drop off some paperwork for you.
- Someone to text you each morning to check in.
- Someone to talk to.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of ways people can support us when we are struggling, so brainstorming in advance can be helpful. I’ve found that once I get started, the ideas just start flowing and I have an entire list of things others can do for me.
Second, brainstorm people who can help support you. This is going to be a big brain dump. We’re not going to filter anyone out at this point. We just want to explore all your options. This is really important because we can’t expect only one person to carry the load, right? It’s far too much to expect someone to do everything for us. They’re not going to be able to. But different people can support you in different ways. So for now, just brainstorm those loving, trusting relationships in your life. You can list:
- Family members
- Individuals from church that you trust
Third, prayerfully match them up. This is where some discernment comes in. For example, if you need someone to mow your yard, is there a neighbor or friend who lives close by and loves being outside? Perhaps they can do that for you. Meanwhile, if your grandma loves to cook, asking her to make a meal for your family once a week is probably something she’d love to do for you. As Laura and I were joking around on episode 7, you probably don’t want us to be the ones making your meals!
This might also be a stage where something you wrote down gets postponed, modified, or crossed off the list entirely. For example, when our son was born, some wanted to bring us meals for those first few weeks, which is a great idea. But some members of my family—my daughter and I—are pretty picky, so most of the meals probably would have gone to waste. So that was an offer I declined.
So take some time to compare your two lists: the one of tasks and the one of people. Ask God to show you who can help and in what way.
Finally, it’s time to make the ask. I encourage you to keep it simple and straightforward. Name a specific task, and give a date and time, if you can. I’ve noticed that a lot of times, things fall off because there’s no specific plan. “Can we meet?” is very generic. “Can we meet for coffee on Wednesday at 10 so I can talk to you about this thing I’m going through?” is a lot more specific.
You might also want to think about the best time and place to ask them. Maybe it’s face to face. Maybe it’s on the phone. Maybe it’s email. Maybe it’s text. Maybe it’s a letter. What are you most comfortable with and what would they be most comfortable with?
I also encourage you to not expect an answer right away, but to give them time to respond. They might need to check their schedule or talk to their spouse. Don’t take that silence or waiting period as a negative.
Also, be willing to follow up in a few days if you don’t hear from them. Some messages get lost under a bunch of others. Maybe they thought they replied to you, only to discover they didn’t actually hit the “send” button. It’s okay to follow up and see if they’ve made a decision yet.
So you make the ask and they yes—great!
But what if they say no? The truth is, they may not be able to help you in that specific way at this time. It’s not a reflection of their relationship with you. And really, it’s better to have an honest answer than to have someone commit to something they can’t follow through on. Explore other people you can ask instead. You can also ask them in what way they can help. Maybe there’s something else they can do instead.
Again, I put together a free guide for you to help you work through some of these steps. You can go to lovedoesthat.org/askforhelp to grab that, or click the link in the show notes below.
There’s a Winnie the Pooh cartoon I saw online where Piglet asks Pooh, “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” And Pooh answered, “Help.”
I know it’s hard to find the courage to ask for help, but friend, you can do it. Go through these steps to prepare. Pray and ask God to help you. And then just do it. Start small, if you need to, and then move on from there. Know that you don’t have to go through this alone.
Until next time…