The Art of Asking for Help

Marie Osborne

Marie Osborne
Updated Jul 12, 2023
The Art of Asking for Help

I'm so grateful I was forced to ask for help a decade ago. And whenever help is offered, to this day, I respond with a resounding, "Yes, please." Accepting help has changed me forever.

"I'm going to Costco right now. What can I get you?" The text notification popped up on my phone on a sweltering August afternoon. I was very pregnant with twins, trying to keep my toddler son occupied with games that didn't require mommy to move at all. I started to text my friend back, "Nothing. We're fine," but I remembered her admonition. She goes to Costco every week. She drives by my house on her way home. She won't take no for an answer. I deleted my text and replied back with a short list. I felt thankful, relieved, and guilty all at the same time, but this was progress. I used to feel guilty accepting help like this. Baby steps.

"How can I help?"

When I started sharing the news that I was pregnant with twins, a funny thing happened: people immediately offered to help. Apparently, it is a universally held belief that twins are a lot. Friends offered to watch my toddler son, clean my house, or do laundry. People offered to drop off groceries or bring meals. Women emailed, texted, and DMed, "Let me know how I can help." It was lovely, surprising, and awkward. As the pregnancy wore on, I became less and less capable of managing my son on my own. My doctor didn't prescribe bed rest, but he told me to stop picking up my son and to reduce my daily activity as much as possible. To a mom with an active 2-year-old, that sounded like a fairy tale. My life required so much physical activity, lifting, holding, and carrying my son. There was no way on God's green earth I could stop picking him up. Unless I asked for help.

Risk rejection.

I looked through my text messages and found a friend that had repeatedly asked if I needed anything. I took a deep breath and texted her, asking if she was busy around nap time. I needed someone to put my son in his crib for his nap and pick him up after he woke up. I felt foolish as soon as I pressed send. I should have thought of a way to manage on my own. Maybe I could have napped with him in my bed, though he never falls asleep with me. I could have removed the side of his crib, though we had tried that once, and he kept walking out of his room to find me. Having a friend come over was a great solution, but it would require that I humble myself and accept help.

She texted me back right away and said she would love to come over during nap time. The next day, she arrived just as we were finishing lunch. She played with my son and chatted with me for a bit before putting him down for his nap. When she came downstairs, she helped me fold the laundry, and we had a wonderful time catching up. Before I knew it, his nap time was over. She brought my son downstairs and made sure we were all set before getting ready to leave. As I walked her to the door, I felt tears prick my eyes. "Thank you so much. You have no idea how helpful this has been." She turned to hug me and said, "It was my pleasure. I'm so glad you texted me."

Look for the helpers.

She came over several times to help with naptime. So did my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and several other friends. They folded laundry, prepped dinner, brought groceries, and picked up toys. I made it to 37 weeks carrying those twins with a fairly easy, uncomplicated pregnancy, largely because of the help I received from friends and family. 

Over the last couple of months of pregnancy, I became more comfortable receiving help. Little did I know how much help I would need after giving birth. My husband took time off from work, and it's possible we could have figured it out on our own. But I had already invited people in, and they expected to continue or even increase their service to our family. Additionally, I had a history of depression and anxiety, and my doctor warned me that the shift in hormones and increased demands after giving birth to twins could trigger mental health issues postpartum. I had to swallow my pride and continue to accept help, not just for me but for the good of my family. Friends and family were in and out of our house nearly every day after the twins were born—cooking, cleaning, feeding, changing, playing, tidying, chatting, loving. Every time someone left, tears pricked my years with guilt and gratitude. Every time they hugged and thanked me for asking for help. I slowly realized that inviting them to help was a gift, not a burden. 

Serving is a blessing, not a burden.

Whenever I allowed someone to help me, I invited them into deeper friendship. I was giving them an opportunity to love me in the midst of the messiest, most chaotic time of my life, and they were honored to oblige. We were fully living out Christ's command to love one another as He loved us. They were washing my feet, and I was Peter, allowing my feet to be washed. Together, we completed the picture Christ set out for us in Scripture, and it was beautiful. Things slowed down after those first few months, and life slipped into a new normal. I was doing my own grocery shopping, my own cooking and cleaning. But that time changed me and my friendships forever.

Making help a habit. 

My twins are almost ten now, and I still reach out for help. Not just in times of distress or emergency but on regular weekdays, too. I asked another mom to take my son to play rehearsal and bring him home after. I asked a Life group friend to walk my dog. I asked a neighbor if she could check on my garden while I was on vacation. I asked another friend if my girls could spend the night later this month. I also offer help all the time. When I'm at Target or Costco, I text friends and family to see who needs something. I ask other moms if I can pick up or drop off their kids for them. I ask if I can bring meals or coffee when I know someone has had a bad day. I offer to watch kids, walk dogs, run errands, and fold laundry. When my friends reply with, "It's okay, I'm fine," I often reply with, "I won't take no for an answer."

We are obeying Christ's command.

Accepting help is hard. We are told by our culture, families, and flesh that it's lazy, selfish, or burdensome to accept help. We feel ashamed, guilty, and insecure when it's offered. We forget that Christ commanded us to love one another, not to merely love others, as He loved us. One another requires a reciprocal exchange. It means we need to both give as well as receive help. This is how the world is to know us, by how we both give and receive. This is how they are to become acquainted with Christ's humble and sacrificial love, by how we sacrifice to serve and humbly accept service. I'm so grateful I was forced to ask for help a decade ago. And whenever help is offered, to this day, I respond with a resounding, "Yes, please." Accepting help has changed me forever. Thanks be to God.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Courtney Hale