My son is four. Which means he is a delicate mixture of toddler and child. In the same moment, he can want to be held by his mommy and yet do it all on his own.


He is a paradox of emotions on any given day. Somedays, he is the perfect child- helping his brother, putting away toys, eating his food, cleaning his place setting at the table, washing his own hair. Other days (ahem… today) he is a myriad of emotions, none of which is happy. Whining, crying, fit throwing and incapable of forming a thought, much less possessing the ability to describe what’s “wrong”. And on those days, he suddenly becomes incapable of completing tasks he was adequately prepared to take on previously.
To name one… His seatbelt.
Tyce has been able to buckle himself in the car for over a year now. It is no small feat and one I have spent countless hours helping my children perfect. There is nothing more satisfying as the mother of four than to only have to buckle ONE child into their seatbelt. My boys know how to buckle properly and how to make sure the chest clip is on their chest. They frequently have races to see who can buckle the fastest.
But today, suddenly- my son has lost the ability to push two plastic clips together that meet inches from his face. So utterly inept that he cannot even move his arms to put them into the straps.
So he just sits there- cries flooding the vehicle, tears streaming down his cheeks as the words “I just CANT do it” are thrown into the air with such utter desperation, I’m sure the mom three streets over experiences pangs of pity for this child.
I stand calmly trying to remain calm, at the door reminding him over and over in soothing tones that he CAN do it. He has, in fact, done it dozens hundreds if not thousands of times before. He can buckle faster than his brother on a consistent basis. He is capable. Yet, the despair reaches deafening tones as he finally spews the words that are liquid relief washing over me “I JUST need HELP Mommy. Will you please help me!”
It’s in that moment, where his emotion is expressed in productive words, that I am freed from being his teacher and get to at last be his rescuer. I can help. I will help. Not because he isn’t capable, but because he finally released me from having to be the rational rule-enforcer when he spoke his need. When he asked for my help, he liberated my restraint.
You see, my children won’t learn how to ask if I don’t let them experience discomfort. They will never learn to speak needs if I simply take care of every issue that presents itself. It’s those agonizing moments of wanting to simply fix everything that take every ounce of will I have to not. To not buckle him and get in the car because we are already 10 minutes late. To not yell and scream and get angry and just spank him and get it over with.
I’m not saying that I haven’t done those things- but I have noticed that my child doesn’t learn anything that way. He will never be able to learn if I don’t first let discomfort drive him to express his need for my presence.


If you haven’t guessed by now, the parallel here is quite heart wrenching. And something I must preach to myself on a daily basis.
I have trust issues.
There I said it.
Are you happy?
I hate to ask for help. I hate expressing needs. I’ll simply take care of it myself before telling the world that I’m incapable of doing something. I will burn the candle at both ends and push and fight and claw, long before I will raise my voice to simply ask for help.
You see, asking implies weakness. Asking implies inadequacy. Asking implies need.
Asking also implies strength- something I quite often forget. It takes a strong person to ask for help. It takes a humble heart to say “I just need help. Will you please help me.”
It’s also how Christ fashioned us. He fashioned us as needy people. If we could do it on our own, why would we ever turn to him? Why would we ever seek his presence.
Sometimes I can imagine God standing calmly at the door of my world just waiting to hear those words. His righteous restraint is not punishment- it’s not cruelty or hatred. It’s purposeful. It’s loving. It’s pointed. It’s redeeming.
It’s when we come to our end, that he is our new beginning. It’s when we finally cry out in desperation, that he is able to step in and say “I’ve got this. I’ve got you”
And then there are those times when he knows we are capable of much more than we think. Those times he proves our tenacity in ways we wish could be avoided. Those times he shows us just what we can survive so that we know we can accomplish the things he’s called us to. He knows we can buckle the seatbelt long before we know we can. Sometimes all it takes is the desperate cries of a longing soul to release his hand.