Last week, a friend and I talked over our foamy hot beverages about how we both struggle asking for help, about how the #1 worst, Most Dreaded Thing for both of us is being a burden to someone else. It’s a familiar song for military wives (she is one, I was one), and the enneagram 2 in me only picks up the tempo and turns up the heavy base to that same ol’, long-lived song. (“I’m just fine! Really, what do YOU need?”)
When we were stationed in Hawaii, walking pneumonia walked with me for three solid months. My husband was deployed to a different island 5,000 miles away, and at that time, feeling sick became my normal. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more miserable time (in spite of living in paradise).
When I think back to how I dealt with that—all stoic and “I got this, thanks!” I want to smack myself upside the head. I rarely, if ever, asked for help. That may be partly understandable, as I think a lot of us gals have a hard time initiating that conversation. But when someone from my small circle of kind friends also living on the island asked if they could help, I often said no. I don’t say that to imply it was some kind of badge of honor. Hardly. It was not a smart move, and it certainly didn’t help me heal any faster.
I guess I’m thinking of this a lot now as the stage of book stuff I’m in, requesting and receiving endorsements, involves asking others for help. I don’t like the idea of inconveniencing people but the reality is that to traditionally publish a book, you need help. The thing won’t make it far off the ground if others, from editors to marketers to endorsers to readers to lots of other folks, don’t help you along the way. Of course, the idea is that if one likes the book and finds it adds value to their lives, reading it and helping promote it aren’t inconvenient. But there’s no way to get to that stage till you put yourself out there to ask for help.
On a larger scale, we’re told to bear one another’s burdens. It’s a command, not a suggestion, probably because (at least in part) pride can’t stick around when we wear humility by asking for help. This tells me it’s not just okay but necessary to be an inconvenience to one another because in the give-and-take, you’re following God’s command. You’re creating a safe place for another to be the same to you. In helping others, we help ourselves and help love grow.
Our ultimate purpose to belonging is to know Jesus more—and part of knowing Jesus more comes from knowing others more, too. He reveals himself to us through others. We’re healed through him working through others–others help heal us. But first we need to let others be there for us.
“This is our calling, to love and be loved by the people near us, to live with “neighbor” as part of our spiritual DNA. The world is gray and it is freezing. Making the world brighter for two people makes the world brighter.” ~Shannan Martin
By all means, love others by helping others. Oh yes, ma’am. But let yourself be loved, too. Don’t let going it alone become your normal. Let others help you because that helps heal you. If you’re lonely, invite someone over for coffee, and don’t worry if there’s dog hair on the sofa or cookie crumbs on the counter. If you’re struggling and someone else asks you if she can bring you soup when you’re sick or pick the kids up from school or make the grocery run for more milk, let her. Say yes. I’ll do the same.
Did you hear I wrote a new book? It’s Called Back Roads to Belonging: Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People. Preordering it means you won’t be charged for your order till the book ships. And if you order from Amazon, they guarantee the lowest price offered between your purchase date and the August ship date. Yay!
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