A while ago, I had a conversation with a new missionary who had been here for three weeks, full of hope, excitement, and perhaps a little bit overwhelmed (although she could recall her name, so she was doing MUCH better than ME at three weeks.) We were discussing the topic of hiring house helpers. She was reticent to hire one, because she "didn't want anyone to think she needed help." To which I tactlessly replied that indeed she was helpless. She couldn't read, write, speak, or understand, not to mention that the dirt here is constant and very likely different than home. Plus, hiring a house helper helps the economy.
If I could, I would rewind that moment, and think INSIDE my head next time (first impressions are not my forte)... But it has had me thinking for months now.
Why are we so ashamed of looking like we need help?
Why are we happy to come and "serve" people who "need" our help, but find needing help offensive?
How can we truly honor the people we came to serve if we don't need them?
If there is no reciprocity, can it be a relationship?
Why are we ashamed of needing help?
So, here are my thoughts on the matter, for what it's worth.
I believe we cannot truly serve anyone, if we don't also need them. We can't be truly humble, if we have no needs.
I think Jesus truly demonstrated this. He came as a baby. I suppose he didn't need to. He could have just "shown", up as he has periodically throughout history. He could have walked in from the wilderness. Instead he came as one of the most helpless, need filled creatures, a human baby. There are very few babies as needy as human babies. No doubt his mother had black circles under her eyes from the sleepless nights of feeding him, wrapping him and unwrapping him in clothes as he would have pooped and wee'd all over himself, a lot. Because he was a baby. He had to be carried around constantly. I wonder if he had to have his hand smacked as he grabbed dangerous tools for the 78th time that day. Maybe he toddled a bit too near the fire, spilled hot water on his foot, and ran with sticks.
He, like every human child born, would have been a constant, bottomless well of need.
Perhaps a quadriplegic would have some insight into what Christ would have experienced. He went from having limitless power, and ability, to nothing. Nothing. Absolutely no ability to do anything for himself. He needed.
He spent ALL those years needing for only 3 years of ministry. Now, I think most mission agencies would balk at the idea of missionaries spending 32 years learning, and growing and changing and NEEDING for only three years of professional ministry. Quite frankly, I think we would all go a bit nuts... but maybe there is something there. Maybe we show up with too much... Perhaps we land in our new country with too much "ability", too much "knowledge", too much "understanding". Maybe we don't spend enough time needing help.
Perhaps our biggest contribution to our new country is allowing ourselves to need.