Jeannie cringes as a wave of anguish sweeps over her. How could I have missed that? What’s wrong with me? Tears well up in her eyes. I’m hopeless. Why can I never seem to get anything right? And why does Sam always pick up on it when I miss something? Yes, the results will be better because he did see the problem, but still…why couldn’t I get it right without his help?
Matt stares miserably at the hole he’s just kicked in the bedroom wall. Wait until his wife Sarah saw it! But that isn’t the worst part. All those hours he spent getting the proposal done, only to have the client say it was all wrong and he was going with another company. Why on earth didn’t he check with the client first instead of assuming he knew what was needed? Matt sighs. Not much he can do about the lost client, but maybe he can fix the hole before Sarah gets home.
Maybe it’s an offshoot of the work ethic of our pioneer forefathers and foremothers. Maybe it’s because from kindergarten through university, we’re constantly compared to one another. But whatever the reason, it’s almost impossible for most of us to get past the idea that if we would just try harder, dig deeper, visualize better, study more… we’d be perfect and wouldn’t need anyone else’s help.
The truth is none of us are perfect in the sense of being sufficient in and of ourselves—and, no matter how old we get, or how mature we become, we never will be.
In fact, God never intended for us to be all-sufficient. God is three personalities in one—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He’s always part of a team. And we’re made in his image.
After God made Adam, he said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. God meant that literally. It’s NOT good for a man or a woman to be all alone. So God created Eve to be a companion and partner ideally suited for him, and not merely as a sexual partner. Then, through Adam and Eve, God brought into being many, many more men and women to live in families and communities.
Instead of expecting us to strive to be sufficient on our own, time and time again, God actually encourages us to depend on one another.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” He isn’t speaking to individuals here—he’s speaking to a group of believers. God wants us to live in close relationships with one another, and to help each other.
The reality is that no matter how hard we strive to get things right, we need help from other people. It’s as simple as that. God made us that way.
Jeannie’s reaction—berating herself up for not producing something perfect, and even becoming angry with Sam for helping her—is not only self-defeating, it’s in opposition to what God has set in motion.
Matt’s decision to go ahead without checking with his client was just plain foolish. And his need to try to cover up his anger from his wife, Sarah, instead of letting her see his frustration, shows there are problems in his family life, too.
Much of the stress in our lives can be traced back to our unwillingness to seek out or willingly accept help from one another. It may be time to create some new habits—such as asking for help and accepting it with gratitude.
* Published originally in my column, “As Each Part Does Its Work” in the Maranatha News, which I wrote from March, 2007, until September, 2010.