Three of the Most Important Words You Could Say – #TellHisStory

August 11, 2015 | 35 comments

The memory is fuzzy, because I was so low on sleep and my mind wasn’t level. Hinges were loose, and I couldn’t make sense of my world. So I can only see the blur of the memory now, on the playback.

I didn’t know it yet, but I was depressed. I needed help. Yet I didn’t want to ask for it.

I was a boot-strap puller, a self-reliant do-it-yourselfer. I was always someone’s helper, never the help-ee.

I would have called it independence then. I call it pride now.

But there came a day when my urgent need for mental fitness outweighed my great desire for self-sufficiency.

It was a few weeks after our second daughter was born, and postpartum depression was sucking the life out of me. I felt dark on my insides, shadowy and empty, a frail ghost-person. And no amount of try-hard, boot-strapiness could pull me out of it.

My husband, feeling unsteady about my unsteadiness, said I needed to call someone. He said there was no shame in asking.

But whenever I picked up the phone to call, it felt heavy in my hand. But then, one day, I called my sister Juliann.

When she answered, I broke down in tears and uttered these three words: “I need help.”

She dropped everything and drove six hours north. I bawled when she walked through the door, and I called her my angel for days.

While she was hear, I went to the doctor and told him the same thing I told my sister: “I need help.” The doctor gave me a prescription, to help get me level again.

But I still had one more place to go. One afternoon, still unsettled in my spirit, I went to my closet, dropped down on my knees by the laundry hamper and wept before God.

“God, if you’re there, I need help.”

My sister tells me that when I walked out of the bedroom that afternoon, I looked like a new woman. That was a milestone moment for me, that moment when I found the Rock at my rock bottom. And it all started because I dared to utter three scary, beautiful words:

“I need help.”

Those are three of the most important words anyone could ever utter.

Those three words saved me.

I don’t know where you’re at today. Do you need help? Maybe you’re scared to ask. Maybe you’re worried the words will make you look weak. Maybe you don’t want to be somebody’s burden.

Dare to say the words.

These are the words that have saved marriages, sent addicts to treatment, ushered teens through the counselor’s doorway, and have been the catalyst for a trillion prayers, of all sizes. Those three words save lives, and bring people to Jesus every day.

Friend in Need, you are not a burden. You are a person.

When you say “I need help,” you’re not uttering feeble words. They may be the strongest, bravest words you ever say.





Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Becky Keife, writing about how her summer didn’t go exactly as planned — but how it was so, so good. Find Becky here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂

xo Jennifer

by | August 11, 2015 | 35 comments


  1. Lynn D. Morrissey

    What’s my story? I needed help, when after ten years of suicidal depression I joined you metaphorically, Jennifer, on the closet floor, except that my floor was in the living room. I collapsed on it in front of my couch, where I reached out for support. Instead, I found the support of Christ. I said, “I need help,” when this newly discovered Savior told me to stop drinking alcohol, which I did to daily excess. But I knew that I couldn’t stop. I surely needed help, and He lavished me with it. That was thirty years ago this past July! I cried, “I need help!” after I took the life of my child in abortion . . . but this time I said it several years later. I really had no good idea of what I had done, until the Holy Spirit offered me the help of seeing my sin for what it was, as I read Psalm 139 with new eyes and fresh horror. And then I begged the Lord for help for nearly twenty years to be absolved of the guilt which chained me. I’m not sure why it took so long, but I trust God’s goodness and sovereignty, and He sent help and freedom in the most dramatic way I could have imagined and set me free–truly, gloriously free–from shame. Jennifer, yours is a powerful post (some version of which I thonk I have read before), but with fresh appreciation now for the strength of your weakness .. . and for your longing to help others admit their helplessness and to be set free! I truly love you, Jennifer Dukes Lee (and that sister of yours)!

    • Diane Bailey

      Lynn I was to the point of suicide at one point. Praise God – I cried out on the bedroom floor (notice we are all on the floor? always on the floor) and he saved me.

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Oh Diane! I had no idea. Isn’t it staggering how the Lord meets us in our despair, fills our void, heals and changes us?? Oh, I’m so glad that you got off that floor and reached out to him. Bless you, dear one.

    • dukeslee

      Hey there, Lynn! Thanks for sharing your story here int he comments. Yes, you have read a portion of this story elsewhere. It was in a book — a compilation of stories — by Nancy Kennedy entitled Miracles and Moments of Grace.

  2. Leah Adams

    Three of the scariest, yet most freeing words in the English language. God will honor those words every time. Even Jesus, in His scariest moments here on this earth, needed the help of angels who God sent to attend to Him in the Garden. Our God-Man cried out and sweated blood, and His Father sent angels. You post will likely give a soul or two the permission they need to cry out, “I need help!”

  3. Lydia Lee

    This post is bae. Good job mom! 😉

  4. Mary

    I am in tears as I read these words because I know how hard it is to say “I need help”. I had a time just this past January that I was a puddle of brokenness but God knew and as soon as I called His name, healing began. I also needed to admit to some people who I am close to what was going on. It is very humbling and healing. Thank you friend for these words today.

    • dukeslee

      You are very welcome, dear friend.

  5. Martha Orlando

    Your inspiration today, Jennifer, is exactly what I needed to hear. My mother is in rehab for a fractured femur, my son is going through a tumultuous break-up with his girlfriend, and my daughter and son-in-law are trying to juggle finances and three little girls. I’m feeling stretched as I try to be the bologna to each side of the generational bread. Yet I haven’t failed to say to God, “I need help.” He is seeing me through and I am so, so thankful. Blessings, my friend!

  6. Kristi Woods

    So brave, so right, Jennifer. (And what an amazing, loving sister.) I would have chimed the same “independence” song as well. You’re right, it’s pride masquerading. What the devil won’t do…. Be even more so…what God WILL do. I’ve also been pulled from the depth of depression’s ugly darkness. Uttering those words might very well have saved much of the pain. So glad you’re free from its clutch…me too. To God be the glory.

  7. Diane Bailey

    Is there a woman on the planet who hasn’t experienced depression? Then why are we so ashamed to raise our hand as we are going under the waves to call out for help?

    I know I have had times of darkness but safe friends and surrender to the Lord are the right moves to bring us safely back to solid ground.

    • dukeslee

      SO. TRUE. Thanks, Diane.

  8. Mary Flaherty

    I think we’ve all been there, done that! It is, indeed, so hard to ask for help. But when we don’t and we expect it anyway, it only leads to disappointment.

  9. Dawn

    Oh, Jennifer… your words made me pause today because I wrote about this topic today. I didn’t want to… but when God meets you in the moment and asks you to say words, you do. I loved this, the transparent honesty here. Thank you for shining beautifully in this and paving a way for others to say those words that we all need to be courageous enough to utter to the safe places, people, we have to rest in.
    Bless you,

  10. Elizabeth Stewart

    I am a pull myself up by the bootstraps kind of gal as well. Years ago, I foolishly went through a two year depression without telling a soul. As a pastor’s wife, I didn’t know who to go to. I think I’d handle it differently now, I sure hope I would. Meanwhile, I’m asking for help unashamedly right now, in a physical sense. We’re moving to a new to us home, and I’ve been lining up packing volunteers, which is actually a first for me!

  11. Eva Bridges

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Honesty and vulnerability are so needed within the church today.

  12. Ronja

    What a beautiful and transparent post, Jennifer! Asking for help has always been so hard for me, too, because I feel like I’m a burden for others. Thank you for these brave words, and for encouraging us to be brave as well… but also to become those safe places, safe people who encourage others to be brave and admit their need of help, knowing they will be met with love.

  13. Alecia Simersky

    You brought the tears, woman!! Oh goodness, yes. When I was in the middle of my depression the hardest part was admitting I needed help. I thought I could pull myself out of it. I realized there is so much freedom when you can finally admit you can’t do it yourself and are honest about needing help. Thank you for this, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      Oh, you know this well, yes? So glad you got the help you needed, too!


    Great reminder, milady. True humility is knowing your limitations. God is VERY aware of them. Why try to hide? Love your re-entrance into the room as a “new woman.”

  15. Kathy/

    Powerful, important, and wise! What a gift you gave yourself and your sister, and how God loves us to cry out for help!!

  16. Tara Ulrich

    Jennifer, those three words are indeed so important. I wish more people realized the impact and importance of those words. My mom and sister wouldn’t be who they are without the help they both have received. They both daily struggle with a mental illness. I hope and pray we all have the courage to say those three important words when we need help!

  17. Dolly @

    Amen, preach it, my friend 🙂 Appreciate you giving others the courage & permission to utter those words.

  18. Tiffany

    I have SUCH a hard time with those words. As the consumate people-pleaser who never wants to burden a soul, it’s so hard to ask for help. I have lived so much of my life thinking that if I wanted it done right, it was just easier-quicker-simpler to do it myself. But God has shown me that is a lonely existence and it robs me (us) of the power of sisterhood, service, and fellowship. He’s brought people alongside me how have shown me (not just told me) that they delight in walking this path with me. It’s opened my eyes and shown me that it’s my delight to do the same. I still don’t like asking, but I’ve stretched myself and opened my mouth and been so blessed by the results. Thanks for the continued encouragement, Jennifer. You bless!

  19. Karlene Arthur

    I’m late checking in, Jennifer, but so thankful I didn’t miss this post. May we all remember and know there is no shame in “I need help” and that He is waiting on our call. Thank you.

  20. Lori Schumaker

    Thank you once again, Jennifer! You are such a gift! Three such important words for so many who label themselves the helper and not the helpee! I am so thankful that you are posting about this important topic. I, too, have gone through episodes where I needed that help and it felt so shameful. I am seeing more and more brave women bringing it to the forefront so that young women coming up will have a society that understands and doesn’t judge!
    Blessings and smiles,

  21. Bonnie Stafford

    How do you do it, Jennifer? Every.Single.Time. I suspect I struggled with mild depression for several years. I felt I had no one to talk to except my husband, who never seemed to hear me as it might have required some changes on his part. (Notice I said I FELT I had no one to turn to. I had wonderful parents, siblings, and church family all this time but no one I felt I could tell.) God has heard my desperate cries many a time. He is so faithful. Thank you for being willing to share your story. And God bless your sister!

  22. s.rae

    had that “aha” last week…doesn’t it just make you feel so much better?!?

    thanks for opening this space for us to link up to.
    hope you day is simply fabulous!

    • dukeslee

      My joy to have you here, S.rae.

  23. Lisha Epperson

    I’ve missed your weekly link-up and the wisdom you drop here. I’ve said those words to o myself recently and now I’m encouraged to share them with a close friend. You have no idea how grateful I am for the advice Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      So good to see your face here, Lisha. Miss you.



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