Why self-sufficiency is a big old fat lie
I can count the number of times that I’ve asked for help outright on one hand, and each time involves people bringing me food after a hospital stay. I’m willing to receive a meal after a major life event, but after that? Back off, sister. I can handle my life on my own, thank you very much.
I am reticent to ask for help. And I’m guessing, try-hard girl, you are too.
So what’s up with that? Why do we believe the big old fat lie that tells us we don’t have needs or that we’ll never need someone else’s help?
We want to be self-sufficient.
As Jen Wilkin writes in None Like Him “We love autonomy and view dependence as a sign of failure, a flaw of some kind, a lack of proper planning or ambition.” Preach sister, preach! Try-hard girls can handle everything ourselves…No, really, we’re totally fine…Carry on. (The FCC requires that I tell you that I’m an Amazon Affiliate, which means I earn a bit of commission on each sale. But don’t worry there’s no added cost to you!)
Outside of this sounding like every toddler who ever lived, why does self-sufficiency seem so appealing to so many of us?
We want everyone to think that we have it all together, and that, because of our organizational skills and high capacity, all is well and help isn’t needed. Accepting help might crush the image of total control we’ve created.
We don’t want to inconvenience others.
We feel bad for asking friends to bring us dinner or pick up the kids. Surely, if we could just get a better handle on logistics, we might be able to figure it out without having to bother others.
We don’t want to seem weak.
Exposing a need to others seems akin to pointing out a soft spot to an enemy. We believe that we will be ill thought of in our social circles for needing something.
We can’t identify our needs.
We are masters at repressing what we need. Asking us what we need is like asking a rhinoceros to do algebra—it’s not in our wheelhouse. Our response to “How can I help?” is to stare blankly and compliment your earrings.
We don’t want to rely on others.
The idea of depending on someone else is The Worst. First of all, we don’t know if we can trust you. Secondly, it might not be done the “right” way, a.k.a. how we would do it. And finally, it makes us feel like we’re not enough.
Trying to be self-sufficient looks pretty ugly.
When we try to go it alone, the results can be disastrous. We avoid community because it seems too difficult, and we end up wearing our external mask of “fake fine,” concealing the fact that our internals are frazzled and frayed.
The result of all this avoidance and mask-wearing is exhaustion. We’re doing all the things by ourselves, so we’re tired emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
But sweet friends, we cannot be self-sufficient because God didn’t wire us that way so let’s accept these three truths.
1. We all have needs, and they’re God’s gifts to us.
We need encouragement. We need a babysitter. I need an editor. God created us to interconnect.
As Townsend and Cloud wrote in Safe People “Make friends with your needs. Welcome them. They are a gift from God, designed to draw you into relationship with Him and with His safe people. Your needs are the cure to the sin of self-sufficiency.”
2. We aren’t incompetent because we have needs.
Only God is omni-competent. He gives us needs to bring us to Him. This doesn’t make us incompetent—it makes us human. Just because you need help, advice, or dinner, doesn’t mean that you’re not a good mom, friend, or provider. You’re simply taking part in God’s community.
3. We need to tell others what our needs are.
When we share our needs with others, we’re giving ourselves a chance to receive love while giving others the chance to love us.
As Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts “To let yourself be loved means breaking down your walls of self-sufficiency and letting yourself need and opening your hands to receive. Letting yourself receive love…means believing you are worthy of being loved.”
Here’s the deal: I’m being honest about my needs this year.
There are a handful of times in my life when I asked for people to bring me food after a hospital stay. But this year, I don’t want to want to wait for a major life event to share my needs.
Try-hard girl, let’s make this the year where we understand that it’s impossible to be self-sufficient because it’s not how God wired us. Let’s quit the ugly life of self-sufficiency. Let’s accept that God wired us to have needs, and then, allow those needs to propel us to Him and others… Are you with me?