Don’t Try to Have It All Together

About a year ago, soon after our entire family moved to Allendale, I was doing a simple home improvement project on a Saturday afternoon. Simple, as in hanging towel hooks or something, but I’m about as competent as Tim the Tool Man Taylor. Sure enough, five minutes into my project I somehow managed to break my drill bit in half.

So, put yourself in this situation. What do you think I did?

A.  Figured out an alternative method to put holes in the wall.

B.  Went to the hardware store and buy a new drill bit.

C.  Found a neighbor who could lend me a drill bit.

D.  Forgot about the project, and went back to watching TV.

Eliminating Options

If you thought I choose option A, thanks. You have great confidence in my handyman skills. But you will be sorely disappointed.

If you picked option B, you’d be wrong again. All the local hardware stores close by noon (or shortly thereafter) on Saturdays. That’s a major bummer if you are trying to get something done.

If option D was your guess, you must have not known that we don’t have cable here, and our antenna only picks up one station — ETV.

So, I had only one choice left — to go find a neighbor and borrow what I needed.

Being Needy

Years ago, I heard a guy explain how he used his own normal needs as a way to connect with his neighbors. For instance, he didn’t have a lawnmower, so would  borrow someone else’s in order to cut his grass. (He was generous with his stuff as well, so as not to be a mooch.)

With that story in mind, I set off to be needy. I walked around to neighbors and knocked on doors. At the home next door (which I later learned is a group home for men), they didn’t have any. Other houses had no answer.

I was about to call it quits, when I saw a man a little ways down the road washing his car in his front yard, and I walked over to ask for a drill bit. He patiently and generously made time to get me what I needed.

Beyond getting what I needed, I was even more blessed as I got to know this guy. We chatted as he searched for the tool, and again when I returned it. Turned out he is a pastor, and has a couple of talented kids.

Don’t Be Independent, or Overly Dependent

A big mistake that we can make is try to act like we have it all together, to make it appear as we have no needs. At the least, this is a bigger struggle for those of us middle-class folks. I’m learning from my friends in Allendale that for many, isolation and independence isn’t an option.

There are two equally-wrong extremes that we can go to with this knowledge:

  • You can be overly dependent, making your wants and needs central to your perspective on life.
  • You can be overly independent, making your sense of self-competency central to your perspective on life.

The truth is that we need to be willing to be vulnerable, and allow others to be vulnerable with us. That is how we can engage our neighbors, our culture, and our world.

Still having a hard time grasping this concept? Are you the type of person who would rather drive to the store because you are short 2 eggs or a little bit of cooking oil for a recipe, instead of borrowing from your neighbor? Consider how joyfully you would share with your neighbor if they were in need. Why wouldn’t you allow them the blessing of serving you?

Let us move forward in faith and love.

Related Links:

**image courtesy of Public Domain Photos via flickr

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2 responses to “Don’t Try to Have It All Together”

  1. Jimmy says :

    Great post, Joey. I have long wrestled with the pride of not asking neighbors or friends for help. I used to think it was humility, trying to explain it away as “not wanting to bother anyone”, when in fact is was a stubborn pride, not wanting anyone to see that I couldn’t take care of everything myself.

    I appreciate the reminder.

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