Asking for Help: Lessons from Guinea Pigs & Moses

Finn, our guinea pig, asking for more food!Like many parents, I was at a loss about what to do to help my kids through the global pandemic and ensuing lockdowns that shut them off from friends and family at crucial times in their lives. I was fortunate in having five boys who refused to cave to fear and pressure. Life did not go on “normally” for us, but it was more normal than many people experienced.

Crazy stories emerged. I knew of parents who would not let their son come out of the bedroom for two weeks at each possible exposure. They literally knocked on his bedroom door depositing food for each meal. He’d then wait a few minutes before getting his tray. When he was done he’d leave the tray outside his door for someone to pick up later. It was solitary confinement for a 13 year old who had done nothing wrong!

Fear over faith makes people do crazy things.

From the beginning, I was not afraid of the virus, but that did not stop me from making a few irrational decisions of my own. My older boys feel my most questionable decision was to buy my youngest Guinea pigs.

My four older boys were out doing their own thing while my youngest was home with me almost every day. I was teaching online, and he was watching videos and submitting material he knew nothing about and received no help from his teachers on.

It was horrendous. I knew I had to do something, but what???

My boy wanted a dog.

Dogs are sweet and fun. They are also expensive and a lot of work. No way were we getting a dog! Sorry kid!

He needed something though and, for some, hard to fathom reason, I thought a Guinea pig was the perfect happy medium. I came to learn, Guinea pigs don’t come as just one pig. They come in sets because Guinea pigs are social creatures.

Funny we can see Guinea pigs need interaction, but children and old people in nursing homes and all of humanity did not in the lockdowns?!?

But I digress…

So on my son’s 11th birthday in the summer of 2020, I brought my son on a surprise trip to the pet store where he fell instantly in love with Spike and Finn. Finn was happily named after my son’s new baby cousin, quite an honor I’m sure.

We had these things for a little over two years when one of my older boys realized something. I saw the lightbulb spark on as he laughed over the noise of the loudly squealing pigs, “Ohhhh. When we’re gone you have 100% of the responsibility for the pigs 100% of the time, don’t you?”

Ummm yes. Yes I do.

I have 100% of the responsibility for 100% of everything 100% of the time. That’s true whether you’re all here or not.

But yes, I have 100% of the responsibility for Spike and Finn too.

Thanks for noticing.

Guinea pigs are not hard to take care of fortunately. They pee and poop in the same nasty wood chips for the few days my son is gone. He comes back to clean the cage. It’s good for him to learn responsibility and know that love means doing the hard stuff too. Good always comes with bad and vice versa.

Basically when my youngest son is gone I have one job with the pigs: make sure they have water and food. I feed them, feed them, and feed them more. Guinea pigs have metabolisms much like my five boys. It is in constant overdrive so the pigs (and the boys!) need to eat pretty much round the clock.

And these pigs have zero trouble asking for what they want. I walk in the room in the morning and they run to the side of the cage and squeal. I cut up fruit or vegetables a room away, and they scream for some of their own. I walk near the cage and they jump like mad pigs and screech so very loudly!

And then, when I lift my arm up to deposit hay into their cage, they run from me at light speed zipping in circles around their cage or hiding behind a cardboard box we put in to let them hide in.

They call me to them, then run screaming away when I come and give them what they want and need.

Its unbelievable!

We could learn a thing or two from Guinea pigs.

It never fails. Every time I write about asking for help as I did in this post here, I get comments or private emails from people telling me how hard it is for them to ask for help.

I completely understand. I hate asking for help. I hate the weakness it shows in me. I hate the incompetence I think others will see. I hate feeling judged. I hate the vulnerability I expose to the world.

That is a lot of hate.

Guinea pigs feel none of that. They want something and have no problem letting us know! I don’t advocate squealing to get what you want or running away when someone comes to give you what you need, but I do think we can learn some things from how easily guinea pigs ask for what they need.

We often quote the phrase, “Man was not created to live alone.” We see how this applies in the marital relationship, but do we see it in the bigger picture?

Although Marriage is an important part of this idea, there is more to it too. The idea transcends Christianity to reach all people. We hear versions of this in all sorts of societies. It is part of God’s Natural Law and part of how we know God exists. One example of this is the phrase, “It takes a village.”

And yet so many of us want to be “the village” rather than the beggar at the gate seeking help.

3 Reasons We May Be Reluctant to Ask for Help

When we are reluctant to ask for help we must examine why that is. For some pride causes us to want to prove we can do everything ourselves. Only God can do that. In this case, we must ask if we are making ourselves godlike and what golden calf we worship. 

For others fear may prevent us from asking for help. Perhaps the idea of asking for help exposes vulnerabilities you would rather the world not see. Maybe the person you need help from intimidates you. If that intimidation is warranted, what in you causes you to subject yourself to this. If it is not warranted, ask if it is your lack of belief in yourself and the person God creates you to be. Discover what you can do to increase your sense of self-worth.

A third cause for being reluctant to ask for help may be that past help you received was not been helpful at all. Maybe you have been burned so many times or so badly that you have come to the conclusion that there is nobody out there for you. 

The Mighty Moses Could Not Win His Battles on His Own

In this week‘s first reading from Exodus 17, we see the mighty Moses, needing help. The children of God are battling the evil Amelek, and the entire battle seems to rest on Moses‘s shoulders, literally.

It is noticed that every time Moses holds his hands and staff above his head over the crowds below, the Israelites advance in battle. Every time his arms tire and he lowers them devastation ensues.

Moses needs help.

The battle rages on, and Moses can no longer hold his arms up. Like any strong, loving leader, he does not want to see his men perish, and so he seeks help. Aaron and Hur come to his rescue. First, they bring him a rock to sit on. The rock is nice, but it is not what Moses needs. He needs help holding his arms up.

Aaron and Hur take their place at Moses’ side. Each man takes Moses’ his arm. They think nothing of their own battle weariness but hold Moses’ arms high above the raging crowd below. This is just what Moses needed. This is just what Moses’ troops needed. The battle is won.

I always thought it was strange that Moses needed to keep his hands up. What was the deal with keeping his staff high above the bleeding men? Wouldn’t this warring general serve better down in the trenches, encouraging his men, fighting by their sides, seeing the enemy up close?

That was my old school thinking. Over the years I’ve learned better. Moses needed a better view of what was going on below in order to conduct the war properly. Standing above, he knew things men in the trenches did not. He could see moving parts and far away soldiers coming into alignment in ways those in the midst of the battle were not privy to.

This is just as God sees us in our battles. He sees things far off and players He would like to bring to our sides when we are battle worn. Too often though we continue to fight without asking our General for help.

Moses’ hands in the air was not some silly gesture. The power was not in Moses, his hands, or his raised staff. Standing with hands in the air was a posture of ancient prayer. Moses was not in control of the battle. He lifted his hands in the air to The One who was and still is.

Moses knew his help was not from Aaron and Hur but from The One who sent them.

Moses’ help came from the Lord.

This is something we all need to remember when battling. God did not create us to live alone, but he also didn’t create us to be taken in by any village. God created us to turn to Him first. He created us to pray without ceasing. He created us for fellowship. He created us to know, to love, and to serve Him, and to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

When we fail to ask for help, we not only make our lives more difficult, increasing the odds of bitterness, anger, and pure, exhaustion, frustration, and overwhelm decaying our souls, we also deny others, the ability to know love, and serve God through us.

Asking for and giving help is a humbling experience. It is something I still struggle with. It is also something that brings us closer to Jesus and His Humility.

The Lord is unchanging.

He created all things, from Guinea Pigs to the mighty Moses, with a need to seek help at times. He gives things beyond our ability as gifts to open doors. It is up to us to see asking for help, not as a curse but as a blessing. Realize your help comes not from the person holding us up in prayer, but from the Lord. Keep your hands up and your eyes, toward Heaven, and instead of being upset with having to ask, change your thinking.

Be grateful to get this humbling experience.

God Bless…

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