Yesterday at church, Jonathan and I were involved in the music during the service. Not such smart idea for us both to be participating on the same day. While we were practicing, the kids were running wild in the church. Cor and Mia were hanging out on the top steps by the pulpit. While singing, I had to keep a close eye on Mia as she teetered over the edge of the top step and I had to make sure Cor didn’t pull down the table-cloth holding the communion meal. When it was time to bring the kids to the nursery, I had a bit of a problem. While Jonathan got ready to play for the service, I had a diaper bag, bottles, blankets, 2 babies and three kids to drag to the other side of the church. I realized I couldn’t do this in one trip, so I searched out for some help. I found a friend of mine near by to help carry one of the babies to the nursery for me. She gladly accepted my plea for assistance and we went on our way.
During the babies first year of life (and a bit before they were born), I had to ask for a lot of help. It was a no-brainer, really. Five kids under the age of five (this was true for 3 months!)? I think this girl is going to need some help. For me, it was easier to ask for help not only because I knew it was more than I could handle, but because I knew everyone else recognized this might be a bit impossible for a while. I knew early on that people would be in my home helping me with tasks such as laundry, cleaning, meals, etc. What I didn’t realize was how much help I needed in the first week of being home.
After my caesarean section, our hospital stay lasted a bit longer than we had expected. I expected 3 nights at the most, but we had to stay 5 nights. Mia had lost more than 20% of her birth weight, so doctor’s needed to see her gaining at steady pace before we left the hospital. This meant our transition time at home no longer existed. Jonathan and I expected 2 nights on our own with Cor and Mia so we could settle in to life with two babies before the troops came home from their aunt and uncle’s place. Unfortunately, we arrived just 2 hours before the kids came back home after being away for almost a full week. We called the grandparents to come for reinforcement because we knew it was going to be crazy. They arrived an hour after we got home. Before the kids burst through the door, excited to see their new baby sister and brother again and rejoin their parents, I prepared myself for feelings of being overwhelmed. I knew it was going to be hard, but Jonathan’s parents were here and so I figured it would all be ok.
Well, an hour into the reunion, I was in my bedroom sobbing. It was too much. It was all too much for even every adult in the house. I was unprepared for the extent of my limitations due to the C-section. A trip to the bathroom was all I could muster before having to retreat to my bed again. A trip from the bathroom to the kitchen was out of the question or I was in a lot of pain. Having me out of commission to help with anything except feed and change the babies was difficult, but I also realized managing the other three kids, the household tasks, taking care of me and the babies was too much for my mother-in-law as well. Jonathan needed to go back to school the next day after taking several days off work already. We needed more help! I ended up calling my sister-in-law and she was able to come the next day. For the next 4 days, my friend Shannon, arranged for someone to come help during the day. I couldn’t believe we needed 2 woman everyday for 5 days to take care of all that needed to be done around here!
And then the help continued to pour in. Everyday for about 5 weeks, Jesus rang the doorbell. He called on the phone. He showed up with meals, gifts, hours of service cleaning my house and putting my laundry away. I even received a year’s worth of canned applesauce. I felt so cared for and loved by God. He was taking care of us when we couldn’t do it on our own. The people of our church, our school communities, our friends and family answered the call of Jesus to come help us. Never had I felt so physically, the arms of Jesus holding me close and telling me it was going to be ok. He would provide for each need through the hands of other people.
Today I don’t have meals delivered to my door anymore. I’d really like people to continue to cook for me, but I don’t really need it. Too bad. A year has passed and I’m able to do everything on my own again. Most days. There are still times where I feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle the day-to-day things. But now I hesitate to ask for help. Feelings of inadequacy, failure, or not being up to the job come to the surface when I feel I need to ask for help. Isn’t that true for all of us? Our pride gets in the way of asking for help. We don’t want people to think we can’t handle things on our own. We especially don’t want our kids to see we don’t know everything or have everything all together. We don’t want others to see our weakness. We often try to cover the mess and the imperfections. I know I’m a little horrified when my kids don’t act perfectly in church. I want them to sit still, face forward, and sing with the congregation. But reality is, sometimes they say things out at inappropriate times or they run across the front of the church in the middle of the sermon to go to the bathroom(yes, it did really happen and I was horrified). I feel ashamed, but others are probably sighing relief that the woman with 5 little kids doesn’t have it all together either.
Why do we feel we have to pretend? Why do we want to look perfect and together in the eyes of others? No where in the Bible does it say we need to appear strong so others will be blessed by our strength. It does say this:
” But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
What a relief that is! I don’t have to pretend to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife (although I’m sure I”m pretty close…), the perfect Christian who displays all the fruits of the spirit all the time. I am none of these things and sometimes I have to ask for help. And I have to ask for forgiveness daily.
This past year, I experienced joy and strength in my weakness. When others came to me to help, I felt God’s presence. There is nothing wrong with being weak. In fact, maybe we should pray for it more often. God can work mighty wonders through us when we give up our pride and let him do his work in us.