No one, and I mean no one, likes the feeling of helplessness. There isn’t anybody who wakes up first thing in the morning feeling helpless and thinks “Aw yeah! This is awesome!”. It just doesn’t happen. The sensation of being weak or helpless is one of those great uncomfortable feelings that is almost worse than the actual thing itself.
It’s a plain and simple truth that we will not always be operating at one hundred percent. We just can’t. Eventually, we are going to reach the edge of ourselves. Whether it’s because of stress, trials, trauma, strain, or some other drain on your personal resources, there will be things in this world that sap you of your strength. The problem is that we’re not always the best at reacting to that state of being. The sensation makes us feel about two inches tall and too often it’s so unpleasant it makes us want to hide it away from the rest of the world.
This is nothing short of disastrous. We may think we’re sparing ourselves or those around us. We may think we’re performing some feat of strength. But the plain and simple truth is if we decide to deny when we need help or rest because we feel we ought to be able to power through, we’re just running down the clock until the problem is so much bigger than we could have imagined. We’re just feeding the beast.
But even knowing that the problem can’t be ignored doesn’t take away the icky feeling of failure. Why? Because we have people we love and care about, and whether through pride or an intense desire to not let them down we become desperate to keep doing “our thing” for those people.
For me, it’s cheering people up. That’s my bread and butter of trying to care for others, and I like to think I’m good at it. I know how to cheer other people up, and I know how to keep my own spirits up high. It’s what I do. But every now and then life kicks me in the teeth with a little extra force and I come to the edge of myself. I’m not giving cheer, I’m needing it, and the knowledge of that always makes me want to cringe. But we have to fight that feeling tooth and nail because it is selling us a heinous lie. It’s telling us that we should always be giving the thing we’re good at, not receiving. It tells us that to accept our thing back is to fail. But let me tell you this:
Just because you are gifted at something does not mean that you are no longer allowed to accept it from other people.
We will all, all of us, need the thing we offer to other people. The comforter will need comforting. The defender will need defending. The nurturer will need nurturing. The provider will need providing. The counselor will need counseling. The protector will need protecting. The jester will need laughter. God doesn’t tell us “Come to me all who are weary. Except for those of you who are gifted in this particular area. You should have it together all the time.” He’s never been that kind of God. He may ask big things of us, things that leave us tired and exhausted. He may take us to the end of ourselves, but he always does so while offering his strength and rest every step of the way.
We see God’s heart for our helplessness and exhaustion in one of the most well-known passages of the Bible.
“Have you not heard? Have you not understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
To need the very thing that you’re so good at doing for other people does not constitute a failure on your part.
It might not even mean you’re slowing your step as much as you think. If you were resting because you didn’t care, that would be one thing, but we’re not talking about that. You do care, or it wouldn’t be so hard to stop and rest. The very fact that it’s hard to slow down and accept rest and help shows how important it is to you to do that very thing for other people. What better way to show strength than to know when you need backup?
I’m begging you, let other people do your thing for you when you need it. Be comforted, be protected, be cheered, be defended, or be counseled. Whatever “your thing” is, don’t buy into the lie that you’re not allowed to accept it when it’s offered back to you. This reciprocity is not an indication of weakness but an opportunity for strength. And the ones who know you best see that. God doesn’t sideline you for a breather and then tell you you’re out of the game because you needed rest. He fills you with his rest and strength and put you back in the field. You have not lost worth in his eyes because you come to him for rest, and you never will. He has enough strength to go around.
At the end of the day, life is a team effort. None of us were made to go it alone. Rest and rest well. Let those who love you show your love back to you. You are not letting them down. You are taking in those very precious gulps of air before you put your fists up and return to the fight, and there is absolutely nothing weak about that.
Let’s find some joy,