BY REV. ANN MANN
Asking for help can be hard. If I had to guess why, I think it is because it can mean surrendering control. Or maybe it is because we are concerned about what others will think. Will they think we are weak or needy? Many of us love to think we can somehow do it all.
Since my husband passed away, I have had to face the reality there is no way I can do all that is needed to survive. So, I am having to become accustomed to asking for help. The responses I am getting from my loving church community have changed my mind about asking for help.
In every marriage, in every healthy partnership, there is a division of duties. There are things one person is great at, or enjoys, and that is what they contribute. In our marriage, my husband did the yard work. He enjoyed mowing the lawn. He enjoyed getting rid of the weeds. And he would plant whatever plants I wanted.
So, here I am, in a house with a substantial yard, and I have no desire or talent to care for it. I asked around at church and found out we have members who do lawncare. One of those members is now mowing my lawn. My backyard has enormous potential but has been neglected for years. As I was sharing the yard’s potential and my lack of talent with our youth director, she suggested we have the youth come out for a workday. They provide the muscle, and I provide the meal. Mission begins at home, after all!
And that is not all, another member, someone who is known for her love of all things garden, helped me shop for plants that would be minimal maintenance, and appealing to the eye. This week, she and a helper are going to plant those plants in my newly spruced up backyard.
What I am describing is the unfailing love of God, demonstrated in the lives and actions of the people I asked for help, our church members. I find myself in a place I never expected to be. I was blessed with a husband who was a true partner in life and ministry. And the truth is, I cannot continue alone. Asking for help is the only way forward.
Life is so uncertain. We are only promised this moment. And yet, we often put our hope in people, or things, or a future we imagine. When the only thing that is sure and certain is the unfailing love of God. When we surrender to the love of Christ, our life is transformed.
This week I preached on the unfailing love of God described in Isaiah 54:10. In Isaiah 54, the Israelites are facing exile in Babylon, and are losing hope. Here is the reassurance they receive from God, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (NRSV).
We can rely on the promises of God. I am so blessed to be a part of a congregation that lives out the promise we make when we join the church. We promise to uphold the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. I have witnessed the never-ending, overwhelming love of God through this loving congregation.
Asking for help is curing me of my sense of self-sufficiency. Asking for help is my way of acknowledging that I cannot do this alone. And praise be to God, I do not have to. Most of all, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is one of the strongest and smartest things I have ever done.
Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is email@example.com.