a little help, please - JJ Landis
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a little help, please

woman help

My husband takes other business owners to lunch occasionally to talk shop and develop friendships.


Likewise, whatever his current hobby happens to be (playing mandolin, flying planes, baking pies, making videos – let me just take this time to say that his hobbies exhaust me. What’s so wrong with reading a book?), he is not afraid to ask someone more experienced for advice and instruction.


While our family wandered around New York City this past weekend, my hubby asked questions of many people. If he didn’t know which way to walk, what tickets to buy, what train to take, he grabbed (not literally) the first person he saw and asked for direction. More times than not, the person was eager to assist us. The joke goes that men don’t ask directions. I’m assuming that’s because of their ego – they don’t want to be wrong or weak. Asking for help can be interpreted as admitting defeat, ignorance; and no one is too quick to do that.


But how do we learn if we don’t gather information from those with more knowledge than us?


Many times I will forego recipes when making dinner. And many times my dinners are awful. Why do I think I have to reinvent the wheel when I cook? The times I choose to use a recipe that someone else has carefully developed, tested to perfection, I save myself (and my kids) from much agony.


My son and hubby went to an overnight scouting event not too long ago. I’m not exactly sure, but I believe the headline event was “play video/computer games all night long.” Being with older boys gave my son opportunity to learn more tips and tricks for his favorite game, Minecraft. He was able to learn from those wiser than he. As soon as he got home the next morning, he begged to run to the neighbors’ to share his newfound knowledge with his best buddy.


When my firstborn was three and my second just a baby,  I walked into the kitchen and found my beautiful, blue-eyed girl with scissors in her hand, no bangs, and spikey hair.


“I liked the sound,” she said of the dull scissors sawing through the hair.


I didn’t know what to do – well, first I took pictures, then I cut her hair all off, but THEN I didn’t know what to do. I was spent. At a loss. This kid had rubbed the contents of her diaper all over her yellow bedroom wall, had lodged stickers in her nostrils, and would later go on to clog her ear with tissue, so much that she failed hearing tests for a few months until we discovered the obstruction. You could call her adventurous or you could just call her naughty!


I was a loser mom. It wasn’t that I so much cared about her hair. It was more that I felt like I had nothing. No skills. Clearly I was failing. What exactly was God thinking when he trusted me with kids?


I made a superb decision that day in my despair. I wrote an email to a friend at church. We didn’t know each other very well, because I hadn’t been attending for long. I chose her because her upper elementary/middle school aged kids seemed undamaged and rather well-mannered. I wanted to emulate her parenting and pick her brain for tips. Really I just wanted/needed someone to let me know I wasn’t completely inadequate. I asked her to mentor me. (And she did; and her kids are awesome adults; and we’re still the best of friends!)


Writing an email to a more experienced mother was not easy for me. We’re supposed to have it all together all the time. But when I admitted weakness, I was built up.


It takes nerve to ask for help. My husband asking strangers for directions is loaded with courage. I would have opted to walk an extra sixteen blocks out of the way in the cold rather than ask a stranger for help reading my map. (I need some humility.)


How are you doing? Need some help? Here are five things to do if you’re feeling lost or inadequate:


1. Trust. You need to let down your guard and trust that you won’t die when someone sees you aren’t perfect.


2. Just do it. Don’t wait until you’re desperate and exhausted of options. Need a tip, advice, opinion, guidance? Pick up your phone and call or text someone. Or walk next door.


3. Be brave. Don’t worry about offending someone. Most people are more than happy to share their time and wealth of knowledge. Ask someone about their hobby, or parenting technique, or job – you’ll end up with more information than you can use.


4. Be confident. Don’t be intimidated. A common mistake (of mine) is assuming I am stupid and everyone else is smart. I assume everyone knows all I know PLUS all I don’t know. But that’s not true. We all have pockets of advantage. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Many people could benefit from gleaning knowledge from others.


5. Be willing to share what you know with someone else. Others want your help too. I am a strong proponent of bleeding in public (thus I give to you – my blog). Maybe I’m too much of a big mouth, but if I have to go through something, I don’t want to waste what I’ve learned. I’m willing to tell anyone anything I have stored inside my head.


Thanks for stopping by! JJ

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