Holy night, maybe. Silent night, it was not. Christmas season was in full swing, and it was the night for our church to go Christmas caroling. As head of the food committee, my husband and I would oversee serving the snack afterward. How would we juggle four children, five and under, and still fulfill our committee duties?
Christmas caroling in Belize is unlike the stereotypical experience. We wear short sleeves. Our whole church family piles onto a trailer, and we bounce all over the village, singing under waving palms instead of frosted firs. We sing Spanish at some places and English at others.
When it was time to leave, our gaggle of children joined the other carolers waiting by the trailer. I tucked the youngest in all his three-month-old sweetness into a baby wrap and joined the others in belting out Christmas carols. At each place, one of the children gave out a plate of whatever goodies the church people had contributed—homemade cookies, store-bought biscuits, candy, bread, or fruit.
When we got back to the church, the baby, secure in the baby wrap, was lulled to sleep by my scurrying around as I set out plates, filled cups, and uncovered dishes of popcorn, trays of cookies, and platters of bean dip. My husband watched our almost-two-year-old and the older two were playing with their friends. All went smoothly, and although exhausted by the end of the evening, I felt satisfied that I had fulfilled my duties as a mother and food committee member.
A few days later the school children gave their Christmas program. Once again there was a snack afterward, but this time I was not in charge. Many visitors had come to enjoy the program, and I was enjoying visiting with people I don’t often get to talk with. The snack line was nearly empty, and I caught my husband’s eye; he was ready for food. How would we get through the line with all our children? I had not brought the wrap or the stroller. I noticed the young girls were already finishing their food. They usually fight over who gets to hold my baby after church, so I approached them.
“Could one of you hold my baby while I get some food?” They beamed and, after some discussion, decided which girl would get the privilege of holding the baby.
Oh, the spread of food! Cheese dip and pizza, banana bars and brownies. Quite a bit later, I guiltily realized that I had forgotten about my baby in the double pleasure of food and fellowship. Was he crying? Did he need me? After a quick scan of the church, I saw he was with one of the girls’ moms, nestled in her arms, fast asleep. It was late, and my husband was ready to get our tribe loaded up, so I went to collect my baby.
“Thanks. That was fun,” Rosemary said.
“You enjoy babies?” I asked.
“Oh yes, I love babies,” she said. “It’s been way too long since my youngest was a baby.”
We climbed into the van, loading children, song books, and empty cookie platters as well. The glow of the evening still surrounded me. The singing, the food, the fellowship--it had all been wonderful. And, I had to admit, it had been a treat to eat unhurried by the persistent demands of little people.
With a little forethought I could have brought the stroller or baby wrap along and handled the food line on my own, but I would have missed out on the blessing of accepting others’ help, and I would have robbed them of the joy of serving.
We were never meant to be complete in ourselves.
It is not a disgrace to ask for help.
It is my natural tendency to try to have everything under control—a cleaning plan, a budget, savings goals, a schedule, routines. And while that is part of my responsibility as a wife and mother, sometimes I can depend on those things rather than giving God the opportunity to give me everything I need, including grace for the days that don’t go according to the prescribed plan.
We were never meant to be complete in ourselves. It is not a disgrace to ask for help, contrary to my natural inclination. The body of Christ is meant to be a support group to help fill in the gaps we are missing.
The next time we go caroling? Hopefully I’ll get it right and ask for help the first time.
This post has been linked to Velvet Ashes, an encouraging site for women serving overseas.