In Exodus 17 we see the most beautiful example of supporting someone in need. There was a battle raging and as long as Moses held his arms up, it went in the favor of the Israelites. When he dropped them, the battle went against them. But in verse 12 we see an act of support from those near him:
“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (NIV)
This story moves me to tears. I’ve just completed the first year’s journey through grief after losing my husband and my helper in the daily toil of life and parenting. I’ve written often that the silence of his absence is sometimes deafening. I’ve experienced this strongly as I’ve moved into a new house with my four children.
You have no idea how much two adults working together makes things easier until one is gone. The thought of moving furniture becomes more burdensome. The thought of how I’m going to tackle piles of boxes stacked to the ceiling becomes overwhelming at times. The tiny home projects become a big deal. Think, all you married folk reading this, of the times you are just done but your spouse has the energy or the inspiration to tackle the next thing that needs to be done to turn your house into a home. Working together makes it do-able.
Compounding this problem is the feeling that I should be able to do this alone. I have enjoyed, no, relished is a better word, the support of so many friends and acquaintances over the past year. They have shown up to help when I couldn’t take the next step or figure out what that step should be. They helped me paint and prep a house to show and sell. They helped me pack boxes and talk kids into boxing up treasures that needed to be out of sight.
But now I’m in my new house. Should I be asking for help? Should I be needing it? I will be the first to say that I need to learn to do this alone because that is just a fact now. But sometimes I become paralyzed by the overwhelming to-do list in front of me.
Again I am thankful for friends who speak wisdom to my heart.
“Take it one step at a time. Don’t try to do it all at once.”
“Make lists for each room. Set reasonable goals.”
“Remind the kids this won’t all happen overnight.”
And, in some cases, some of them have been able to find time in their own busy lives to come help organize or offer advice. One friend plans to come help my kids plant the tulip bulbs and rose bush we brought with us as soon as the weather cooperates. Another helped me tackle two troublesome rooms and will return to tackle more when I’m ready. (Pictures of that in a coming blog.)
These friends are being my Aaron and my Hur. They are holding up my hands when I’ve held them up as long as I can and I lack the ability or energy to do any more.
My encouragement for you moms forced by death or abandonment to do this alone is to let people help you. Do what you can to the best of your ability. You do need to figure this out. However, God never intended for any of us to live life in isolation. There is no shame in asking a friend for organizing advice or help tackling the room that just isn’t working the way you thought it would.
For friends in the lives of women like us, know that it’s hard for us to ask—especially if much time has passed since we started this new life. We may not want to bother you or be a burden. So my encouragement to you is to watch for signs these women are struggling and unable to figure out the next step. Offer your help when you can. Pray that God opens doors if the woman you are friends with is too proud to ask. If you aren’t equipped with the talent or ability to help, think of people you know who are and who might be willing to help a widow in need.
Be the lifter of someone’s arms in the everyday battle of moving into a new reality. Be the blessing from God in the life of a woman struggling to figure this out. Be willing to ask someone for help, ladies. Finding balance in the boxes is a blend of learning how to tackle new challenges and learning the humility to ask for help.