“If you can’t control your mouth, maybe we should just tape over it!”
I’d had enough of the constant comment coming from this eighth grade boy. I wasn’t prepared, however, for what he begged me to do next.
“Please do it! I’ll get the tape!”
Oh, my! I knew if I even “helped” him tape his mouth I would be in serious trouble. But there he was, handing me the tape dispenser.
“I’m sorry. I can’t help you with this. It’s just not a good idea.”
A few minutes later I turned around to see his mouth securely shut with half the roll of tape… a “do it yourself” project.
ASKING FOR HELP
Young children go through a phase when they want to “do it themselves.” They are learning a new skill, managing a zipper, fumbling with buttons, or tying a shoe. We wait patiently as they struggle and brush our helping hands aside.
Then there is the selective help. When she was two, Carrie Anne announced to her grandma who was visiting, “Mommy and Daddy help… not you!” What she was really saying was, “I haven’t accepted you yet. I’m not sure I want you in the ‘inner circle’ of people that I let help me. I don’t need your help.”
I like to help myself to samples, especially those offered at the grocery stores. Some people go to extremes, however. We offered some free “I Like Traverse City” buttons at the hotel I worked for one summer. One woman walked by the counter and dumped the entire basket into her purse. I guess she really liked our city!
I’ve told writing students many times that they needed to show me what they were going to do for themselves before I jumped in to help. Give me something on paper to work with, please! This worked for those who could actually put some ideas down, but not for those who couldn’t even get out of the blocks. I needed to figure a way to get them started, get them moving. Sometimes it was a graphic organizer: a circle or boxes or a chart that we filled out together. And sometimes I did have to actually be their secretary when they truly had a disability. That’s okay. Writing is what’s in our heads, not what our fingers write or type.
Sometimes I’m almost too embarrassed to ask for help. Notice I said almost. When it was time for each of our children to be baptized, one of the German gals at church offered to clean my house before the out-of-town guests came. I had to swallow my pride and let this “perfect housekeeper” tackle what had accumulated during the months when I was too cumbersome to really clean.
And then there are those who act like they’re helpless. We’ve all tried to physically lift a child who is giving the old “dead weight, drop to the floor” routine. “Help me out here!” we groan. There are adults too who refuse to do anything to snap out of a mental or emotional rut. They expect us to do all of the “lifting” to free them from their doldrums. How exhausting!
ASKING FOR THE LORD'S HELP
Sometimes I’m too prideful, too embarrassed, too stubborn to ask my Lord for help. I feel I should give it my best effort before He lends a hand. I like to help myself to everything the world offers for assistance, to the point of dumping whole baskets of suggestions into my plans. Even when it’s really not a good idea, I jump in with my own efforts, trying to make it work.
But I’m really the “dead weight kid” when it comes to my sin and the awful choices I sometimes make in what I do… or say… or think. There’s nothing I can really help with, as much as I keep trying, so I might as well just collapse in my Lord's arms. And that’s just fine with Him. He loves to bring us back to life… and to a life with Him!
We often say to people, “If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.” One day I heard someone say this, and it reminded me of my Savior’s offer: “If there is anything I can do to help, please let me do it.”
Now, if only I would remember… each moment of each day… that He is in my “inner circle” of trustworthy helpers.
And He is the only one of that group that I can always trust to do it right.