Want to know my dirty little secret?
Well, actually it’s my clean little secret…
We pay someone to clean our house. Shhhh!!
I know, I know, some of you are highly disappointed—you were hoping for something a little more scandalous! But others of you definitely gasped when you read that. Some of you shook your head in disappointment, and some of you actually breathed a sigh of relief (because now you know you’re not the only one!).
It’s silly, really; but I can count on one hand the people who know we have housecleaning help (or at least I did until now, LOL). It’s just not something I tell people.
Part of me feels embarrassed, like my “Supermom” status is at stake because I need help mopping my floors. Another part of me feels ashamed for getting assistance with something like cleaning. And part of me feels guilty—for putting our mess on someone else, for splurging on something I could do myself, and even for having enough money to pay someone when so many people are struggling.
But the truth is, I need help. I have my share of gifts; unfortunately, cleaning is not one of them. I can do it, (and with six people in our family I obviously still do!) but I don’t do it well. And I don’t like it. As hard is it was to ask for help, it has made a huge difference for our family.
When is the last time you asked someone for help? Was it hard for you?
For me, it depends on what it is. Earlier this week, we changed plans and needed a last minute T-shirt design for a college ministry retreat. I had a choice. I could spend several hours attempting to design something that, let’s face it, would look awful no matter how much time I invested in it. Or I could text a friend and ask for help.
I am not kidding; the first draft of the design was completed within three minutes of the text.
Umm, yeah, I think that was a good decision!
But there are other times when I am not so quick to ask for help, even from my own family. There are certain things I simply feel are my duty or don’t want to bother others with. Often it’s just easier to do it myself. As a stay at home mom, I tend to view most of the household tasks as my responsibility. Asking others for help makes me feel lazy, incompetent, or like I am burdening them (which is ridiculous… but we’ll get to that in a bit.)
Still, it begs the question—why is it so hard for us to ask for help?
WHY WE’RE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
There are a few reasons most of us are afraid to ask for help.
The first reason is PRIDE. We like to think (or pretend?) we can do it all. Our ego drives us to over-excel, presenting an image of someone who can be all things to all people.
When something needs doing, we do it ourselves. If we don’t know how to do something, we’ll figure it out. Admitting we need help feels like failure somehow. Accepting assistance from others embarrasses us. It shows weakness and vulnerability, and those are not a traits our culture values.
Another reason we’re afraid to ask for help is because we don’t want to inconvenience anyone. This is particularly true for those who enjoy helping others.
There is something engrained in us that causes us to feel good about meeting other people’s needs, but makes us feel selfish when we are the ones who need help. We know how valuable time is, especially when we spend a lot of it helping others, and we don’t want to be the reason someone else feels stressed or overwhelmed.
When given the choice, we choose burn-out over selfishness every time.
What About PAYING for Help?
As Christians, we have also created a false narrative around paying for help. If there is something we can do ourselves (or figure out how to do ourselves), it seems wasteful to hire someone else to assist us. Spending money on such tasks appears extravagant; some might even say sinful. (Which, again, is ridiculous, but it’s a thing!)
We feel guilty for splurging on things we can do ourselves, and maybe even embarrassed that we have enough money to do so. Shouldn’t we give that money away rather than spending it on ourselves? Are we really being good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with?
Maybe. Maybe not.
After all, we spend money every day on things we can do ourselves without thinking twice about it.
Have you ever paid someone to make you a cup of coffee or cook a meal for you (Chick-fil-a, anyone)? Do you grind your own wheat, bake your own bread, and can your own vegetables, or do you simply buy them from the grocery store? Maybe you pay someone to maintain your lawn or vehicle or plumbing, to spray for insects, or do your taxes. And certainly you could cut your own hair and paint your own nails…but it probably looks better when you pay someone to do it!
We spend money on lots of things we can technically do ourselves without even blinking an eye. Yet, somehow spending money on certain things seems embarrassing or selfish to us, and its time we start asking ourselves why.
WHY WE SHOULD ASK FOR HELP (BENEFITS)
While asking for help can be difficult, there are several reasons we should do it.
1. Our Gifts Are Different
First, each of us is gifted in different ways. Our weaknesses are someone else’s strengths! God created us to work together as a body. He does not expect an eye to figure out how to be a foot or a hand to learn how to smell. Sometimes we need to ask for help to do things we can’t do well (or at all). We might even need to pay for that help, and that’s okay!
I recently asked my Facebook friends what keeps them from asking for help, and my friend Kenna’s response stood out from the rest: “I can’t think of anything. When you’ve lived alone as long as I have, you learn to lean on others.”
Isn’t this how God intends for us to live as the body of Christ—using our gifts to bless one another, depending on one another to help when we have a need?
2. Our Time Is Valuable
In today’s culture, time is often a more valuable currency than money. Sometimes our best investment is to ask for help so we have time to do what we’re best at, what’s most important, and what we’re called to do. I could have spent several hours creating a design for those t-shirts, but instead I spent that time organizing every single detail for the rest of the retreat. Asking my friends to aid me with their gifts allowed me to be much more productive with my time.
Similarly, I can certainly scrub my own tubs and mop my own floors! But paying someone to do it for me frees me up to be more present with my family. It enables me to spend those hours helping with schoolwork, taking my boys to play basketball, or writing a blog post. Someone else can clean my house, but I’m the only one who can be “Mom” to my kids. For me, the time with my family is worth more than the money we spend.
3. Our Pride or Fear May Be Hindering a Blessing
I was pregnant with Noah when we hired the Brazilian couple who cleans for us, which means they have been with us for over eleven years. They love talking with our children, and they pray for us as they clean. With the effects of COVID on the economy, they really need this job. But even if they didn’t, we couldn’t let them go, because we consider them part of our family!
Just as it brings us joy to help those around us, someone may want to bless us by sharing their talents with us. Likewise, when we pay someone to assist us, we are also helping them meet their financial needs with dignity. It’s a win-win situation!
Being too proud or “selfless” to ask for help can actually be “selfish” when we view it from a different perspective. Allowing ourselves to be blessed by others and to be a blessing to them paves the way for God to do greater things than we can even imagine!
So, how do we learn to ask for help?
HOW TO ASK FOR HELP
Now that we know why it’s hard to ask for help and why we should do it anyway, let’s talk about how to do it. Here are some questions to assist you in discerning where you need help and how you can get it.
- What do I spend more time on than I would like?
- What do I avoid doing because I don’t enjoy it, it will take too much time, or I’m not sure where to start?
- What are 3 projects that would bring me great joy and peace if they were not hanging over my head?
- What is one area I could outsource that would be a blessing to me/my family? How might it be a blessing to others as well? (For example, it would financially help the person I’m paying; it would be a blessing to my kids because I can do fun things with them; it would decrease my husband’s stress to not have to spend his day off working on the yard; it would bless my readers because I have more time to write; etc.)
- If I currently have more time than money, how can I use my resources creatively? Is there something I can give up in order to pay for this service? (Trade weekly Starbucks expense for a sitter; Sell something to pay someone to clean/organize; etc.)
- Can I use my time or talent to barter for what I need help with? (Childcare for computer help? Financial advice for manual labor? Decorating tips for tutoring services?)
Friends, what if it became normal to:
Ask for help when you need it. Pay someone so you can use your time in other ways. Use one another as resources when we need assistance. Encourage others to build their “team.” Bless others with dignity when you are able.
What would life be like then?
It would be a lot easier, I think. Less frustrating. And possibly a bit more like God intends for it to be!
Where do you need help? Who can you ask? And how can you return the favor by being a blessing to someone else?
Because as my friends from Chaos2Calm like to say, “You can do ANYTHING, but you can’t do EVERYTHING!”