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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Sarah do it herself

I hear these words several hundred times every day. They are my toddler's absolute favourite sentence, and sentiment. She is beautifully, terrifyingly independent and refuses help at anything and everything - things she could perhaps do on her own and things she definitely can't. There is something wonderfully endearing about her perseverance, but I am also endlessly frustrated by it. Sometimes, Sarah is so cross at her inability to do something that she grits her teeth and screams at the top of her lungs. And no amount of offering by me to intervene in the situation will do.

Sarah do it herself.

In these moments, I try to remain calm and repeat quietly that I want to help; that there is nothing wrong with needing help; that it isn't possible to go through life without relying on other people. But occasionally - especially when what Sarah is attempting to do is impossible for any 2 year old no matter how determined - I find myself wanting to shout right back into her red, angry, little face. Just let me help you. I want to help you.

But. No. Sarah do it herself.

In one such moment a couple of weeks ago, I felt the gentle (rather violent) nudge of the Holy Spirit. Ehem. This is just how I feel. I want to help you. Just let me help you.
But. No. Nic do it herself.

This morning was a case in point. Last night I left my coat in the boot of the car. In the pocket of my coat was my house keys and the car keys. And so, this morning, just after announcing to both my girls that we were off to the library I realised that everything we needed to do that (pram, sling, coats, changing bag) was in the boot of the car along with what was needed to open the boot of the car. Life fail. Not only were these things necessary for a now-postponed library trip, but they were also pretty necessary to just get through the rest of the day with two under two - especially because, by this point, the youngest had been crying intermittently for an hour. It wasn't long before Sarah and I joined her.

The day was not going well.

But. Nic do it herself. And so, instead of thinking about how I might ask someone else to help me in this slightly ludicrous situation I summoned up all reserves of gumption and determined that it was going to be fine: we could definitely get ourselves (admittedly kicking and screaming) through the day without any help from anyone else. Thank you very much.

A few minutes later I spoke to my husband on the phone, who had his key and therefore the needed mechanism to get into the car and resolve all problems, who calmly, and simply, suggested that one of our many friends could drive to his work (only 5 minutes away) and pick up the key to give to me. Such is my obsession with self-sufficiency (I wonder where my toddler gets it from) that this very simple plan had not even occurred to me. Nic do it herself, remember?

There is something deep within me that is terrified of asking for help. Some fear of losing face, of admitting that, actually, things are a bit tough and I could do with an extra pair of hands, of allowing myself to acknowledge that, perhaps, I am not coping as well as I might. I don't think I am the only one who thinks this way.

And the problem is that such a way of thinking is kind of antithetical to a faith that is built on trusting. That is built upon the foundation of dependence, of admitting that I need help, that I cannot do this life on my own and was never meant to. Our society idolises Independence and self-sufficiency.

Jesus doesn't.

My friend Taryn - a beautiful singer-songwriter - puts in rather wonderfully in one of her songs.

Oh, my soul, get over yourself
Let it go, admit that you don't have it all together
Cast your burden over a cliff
Let your fists unclench, your heart beat light as a feather
Light as a feather

I'm leaning, oh, I'm leaning on you
Leaning, oh, my striving days are through
Looks like I'll be leaning for a while
Yeah this independence has gone out of style.


And so as I aim to teach my daughter that self-sufficiency ain't all it's cracked up to be, I shall try and learn that lesson for myself: Nic, ask for help because He wants to help you; He is waiting to help you.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it..."
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you...
How gracious he will be when you cry for help! 
As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:15, 18, 19)

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