I Can Do It All BY Myself!

The box was heavy and I dragged it awkwardly as my mother offered to help. Determined and stubborn I answered, “No, I can do it all by myself!”

Do you think this childish scene happened when I was a whiney 5 year-old? Or maybe when I was a petulant teenager? No, this incident happened just two weeks ago! A grown woman with an immature need to be independent and self-reliant, this is not a new story for me.

For example, a year or two before Neil died we had an argument and refused to speak to each other for several days. During that time I bought a new treadmill, and after the three delivery men plopped the monstrous box in the middle of the living room, I set out to unpack it and put it together.

Wrestling it out of the package took almost an hour and I worked up a sweat doing just that much. The assembly directions were confusing, calling for tools with which I was not familiar (what’s the difference between a Phillips head screwdriver and a flathead one? or an Allen wrench and all the other wrenches in Neil’s toolbox?) Once I googled that information, and figured out what speed nuts and frame caps were, I got to work adding the “uprights” and the “head unit” into position. I was quite proud of myself!

Unfortunately, then I discovered that the speed nuts and frame caps didn’t fit the way they were supposed to.

Neil walked in to find me frowning, with my hands on my hips, the instruction booklet balanced on the edge of the coffee table. He offered to help, but I spitefully replied, “No thanks, I can do it myself.”

“Col, just because you’re mad at me doesn’t mean I can’t help you,” he said wisely. I struggled on my own for another hour or so and finally gave up. I imagined walking on the treadmill, only to have the inadequately tightened bolts pop off, causing me to fall and break my leg. For a ridiculous second, I thought to myself “Now that would punish Neil!”

The need to be independent and self-sufficient can be very powerful. Can you relate? I hate to ask for help; it makes me feel like I have failed somehow. Even as I write those words I know how wrong they are but the sin of pride is one I easily succumb to. The illusion that I can do it all by myself perpetuates my sense of being in control; here we are again back to that unreasonable need to be in control!

And as bad as that is in my daily life, it’s even worse in my spiritual life. When I think I can do it all with my own strength I miss the fact that I need God’s help every day. I am not self-sufficient and I cannot stand alone, and if I am unwilling to admit and accept that, I can’t possibly have a genuine relationship with God.

Awareness of my own inadequacy teaches me to rely on God, whose “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians12:9).

St. Paul wrote, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), not “I can do it all by myself.”

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

And in Psalm 121, I am reminded that “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

So today, I won’t do it all myself. I just might ask someone in exercise class how the side leg squats are supposed to be done. Or I could ask my friend to share her tuna cake recipe, admitting hers taste so much better than mine.

And I will ask God to help me as I struggle with widowhood and my oh-so-empty nest. Small steps to be sure, but at least they will get me moving in the right direction.


  1. Oh Colleen this is so me. Especially as I get older. Thanks so much for the reminder that help is always available to us. Hope life is good for you. Miss you so much at Urgent Care

    1. Chris, I am petty sure this describes lots of us. I think we just have to keep reminding ourselves every day.
      And I miss you too!

  2. Boy can I relate. As I struggle with health issues I come to realize that I can’t do everything by myself. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to ask for help – especially from God – and that He is always there waiting for us. God Bless …

  3. I can SO relate. Taking care of my grandson Bryce, who is 30 pounds. Going up and down stairs has been hard for me with two weak knees but I STILL insisted on taking him up. Luckily my other half is wise. He just scooped him up and trotted up the steps with him! We are having fun. Kristina and Josh in the tropics for the week. Looking at my calendar after mothers day. Let me know when you are free so we can have plan doing something! Kathryn

    1. Good thing your other half is smart enough to know you need help even when you don’t know it!

  4. You are so wise, Colleen. One of our maintenance workers at church told me several months ago, “I know you don’t like to ask for help but I’ll come over to your house anytime to do whatever”. That had an impact on me and I did allow him to come and he now comes regularly (will not accept payment) and does things like clean the gutters, help clearing tree debris after a storm, when I need a ride to pick up my car from the mechanics because my husband can no longer drive. Letting go of my pride (or at least a bit of it) has made my life easier and has made me more appreciative of those who offer their help, and people DO want to help – they’re being Jesus to me.

  5. Mary, someone one told me that when we don’t let others help us, we deprive them of their chance to be Jesus to us. Ouch.

  6. I think we must be related or sisters or something!!. I so struggle with that ” do it myself” thing and had a rude awakening not too long ago when my two year old granddaughter carried her babydoll stroller and doll BY HERSELF all the way up the hill from the creek and wouldn’t let us help her. I thought… what behaviors are we modeling for this child???? ( I’m sure she inherited a little of the independent streak too..) and how close is that to pride… which of course is a sin…. OUCH!!!

  7. Colleen … so very good to meet you tonight at Lyli’s …

    From one stubborn woman to another, I hear you. The good news is that the older we get, the less energy we seem to have for those kind of games.

    Thankfully …

  8. God created us for community and gave us each gifts so we could help each other! Still, I’m so guilty of thinking I have to put on my big girl panties and do it all by myself, too! Mainly because I see everybody else doing it that way… What if we could start a revolution??? Blessings, liz

  9. Such a hard lesson to learn, and one I need to be reminded of often. I totally relate with your story. Thank you for linking up with #JesusandCoffee this week!

    1. I enjoyed visiting #JesusandCoffee!
      (I am still trying to drag buttons) but thanks for sharing your site!

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