By Beth Demme
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to giving and receiving help, I tend to think, “‘tis better to give than to receive.”
Accepting help sounds easy—who doesn’t want a lighter load, right? But the truth is, I’d rather be thought of as “competent” than “needy.” Wouldn’t you?
Intellectually, I understand that competent and needy aren’t actually opposites. I am most competent when I understand my needs, but pride still gets in the way and keeps me from asking for, or accepting, help. Not surprisingly, reacting pridefully hasn’t led to greater freedom.
In marriage— I’ve disregarded my husband’s ideas and suggestions because I thought doing it my way was a “win.”
In leadership— I’ve lead organizations by taking on more tasks than I should, convincing myself it was better to feel over-worked and under-appreciated than to ask for help.
In motherhood— As a mom struggling with anger, I refused counseling because I was too embarrassed to admit my mistakes to a stranger.
None of those decisions lead to contentment. I was self-sufficient, but I wasn’t happy.
Did you happen to see the moose video going around the internet awhile back? The video showed a young moose being released into the wild after being tagged for humane purposes. After being released, the moose doesn’t walk away. Instead, she launches herself at the cameraman and knocks him to the ground. Once he’s down on the ground, she goes at him with her front legs. When she steps back, she stares him down instead of leaving. If they had been in a staring contest, the moose would have taken home the trophy.
THE MOOSE ATTACKS BECAUSE SHE CAN’T SEE SHE IS BEING SET FREE.
She doesn’t understand that accepting a little bit of help will give her freedom.
Here’s the thing — I know that moose. I have been that moose. I can’t get this video off my mind because I know there are times I have been offered help and all I could do was kick and buck and stare.
What about you? Maybe someone has tried to give you advice on finances or real estate or relationships and you ignored them because they were being nosey. If you’re married, maybe your in-laws have offered help and you’ve dismissed it as interference. If you’re a parent, maybe you’ve stopped listening to other people’s ideas because, frankly, you’ve heard the term “strong-willed child” one too many times.
But, what if they aren’t being nosey or interfering in your business? What if their advice isn’t a repeat of what you’ve already heard? What if they have a bit of help that will actually help you?
We hurt ourselves when we disguise insecurity, embarrassment, or lack of knowledge as discernment. Like the moose, we may wrongly assume that someone is out to get us (or change us or hurt us), when really they are trying to set us free.
You might be cheering on the moose even now. You might think she deserves more credit for standing up for herself, for fighting back. But in this case, she wasn’t fighting for her freedom. In fact, she had to turn away from freedom in order to fight. She would have enjoyed freedom sooner if she had just accepted a little bit of help.
Yes, I’ve definitely been that moose. How about you? Have you rejected help you should have accepted? Have you inadvertently chosen pride over freedom? Tell me about it on Facebook, Twitter, or in an email.