I don’t like asking for help. For those who know me well, I think this has been clearly established. I moved out on my own when I was eighteen, and there is no doubt in my mind that I come across to others as fiercely independent and stubborn too.
That’s why it amazes me when others willingly reach out to help me. I don’t feel like I accept their assistance very graciously, and deep, down inside of me insecurity rises up. I’m always afraid that someone is not genuine in the help they offer me— that maybe they’re just helping me to be nice. I feel like I say “thank you” over and over again, and somehow, it just isn’t enough. And then the insecurity makes an unwelcome appearance once more. I feel like I am always receiving and never giving, and it amazes me that the generosity and kindness continue day after day.
This past month has been like a shower of blessing over my fiercely independent and stubborn self. The first drops of blessing came in the form of a bride-to-be who had recently asked me to be an attendant in her wedding. The bridesmaids were scheduled for a dress fitting consultation nearly an hour from my home, and without transportation, the bride knew that I would need help getting to the bridal shop. My need for transportation never seemed to faze her. She could have said, “That’s not my problem; you’ll need to find your own way to the bridal shop.” But without commenting on my need, she simply drove to my hometown, picked me up, drove us to a bar and grill for lunch, and then made sure I was comfortable at the bridal shop while she chose her wedding dress. When it came time for the bridesmaids to choose our dresses, she stayed by my side and gave encouragement. My self-esteem was hanging on by a thread in that dressing room, but the bride-to-be didn’t let it become an issue. She simply loved me and showed her support as if to say, “Yes, this might be my wedding, but I care enough about you to make sure you feel comfortable and beautiful.” And then she drove me home, which eventually resulted in her being in the car for nearly four hours that day— all because she wanted me at that dress fitting.
Earlier on the day of the dress fitting, I had brought my Tablet to church, hoping someone would know something about how to wake it up. You see, the night before, I had reached for my Tablet to continue reading my e-book, but the screen wouldn’t display. I tried everything— holding down various buttons in different succession, but nothing happened. If the Tablet restarted or reset, I couldn’t tell because the screen simply wouldn’t display a picture. At church, I told our audiovisual tech what was going on, and without making a big deal about it, he took my Tablet and began to look it over. He promised that he would take it home with him after church to see if he could figure out what was going on. He ever offered to seek out a quote from a local repair shop if he couldn’t get my Tablet working. I told him that all of that extra work on my behalf wasn’t necessary, but he quickly brushed my words aside. He seemed to understand what I hadn’t put into words: that to be without my Tablet would be hard because I used it for everything— reading, checking email, browsing and posting to Facebook, and working on my music from the studio. He could have said, “Sorry, this isn’t my problem,” therefore leaving me to seek repairs on my own. But instead he went above and beyond, eventually contacting the repair shop and getting a quote for me. In the end, we decided it would be best for me to bring my Tablet to the store where I had bought it to see if I could get it repaired under warranty. This would mean I could be without my Tablet for a few weeks, but getting it repaired free of charge was more important to me.
The generosity continued. A couple who lives down the street from me dropped my Tablet off at the store so it could be sent off for repairs. They also came to my house to shovel my driveway after a twelve-inch snowfall and even stayed to replace a few light bulbs. Then to top it off, this couple drove me to Rochester so I could undergo a few tests and have my four-month follow-up to my retina surgery. They stayed in Rochester the full eight hours while I had appointments, and even though it was a long and tiring day, I never heard them complain once. They were gracious, loving, and seemed overjoyed to be serving me in this way. It was humbling for me to witness such love and compassion. They, just like the bride-to-be and my tech-savvy friend, could have said to me, “Sorry, not my problem.” But they went above and beyond.
In the midst of all the craziness, I had forgotten to update the audiovisual tech about what had become of my Tablet. In what can only be described as unwarranted compassion, he reached out to me via email nearly a week later. “You hear anything or get anything figured out from Best Buy?” his message read. There was no reason for him to reach out to me to follow up, but he had, and that spoke to me of true friendship.
As we enter into Valentine’s Day this year, it is not lost on me that it is also Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. My friends and family have always been a great source of help and support to me, but today, my heart and thoughts are centered on the One who went above and beyond to save me. My friends and family have seen me vulnerable and in need of help, but my Savior has seen me lost and hopeless in my sin. He has seen my brokenness and has likely been devastated by my choices. He has witnessed my anxiety, depression, stubbornness, and independence, and yet, He loves me still— fiercely and with reckless abandon.
I heard a lyric in a song that struck me profoundly this week. The songwriter referred to God reaching out to us with “ridiculous grace.” What does it mean to say something is ridiculous? It is absurd, senseless, outrageous, almost laughable. When I think of something being ridiculous, it conjures up the reality that something is just crazy, and there’s no way I can ever understand the logic behind it. To me, God’s grace is indeed ridiculous. He could have looked down at my helpless state and said to Himself, “She is beyond saving; that is not my problem.”
But with the most ridiculous and absurd response of all, He sent His only Son in the flesh to this earth to bring His message of salvation. When He was crucified and then rose again, He proved His love and devotion for all time. Jesus lived a life that was fully human and fully divine at the same time. He felt the pangs of hunger and thirst, endured fatigue and sorrow, and even though He could have called down thousands of angels to deliver Him from the cross, He suffered and died for you and me. If that’s not ridiculous grace, I don’t know how else I could define it.
This Valentine’s Day… this Ash Wednesday… I am simply swept away by this gift of unmerited favor… showered with blessing from the One who gave it all for me. May I seek to love others with this incredible gift of grace welling up and overflowing. May I be willing to offer hope and grace even when it is clearly not my problem. May I never get in the way of ridiculous grace.