Why is it so hard to ask for help sometimes? Doesn’t everyone need help at some point in their lives? I know that I do. Do I ask for it? Rarely! Why is that? Well, I think that it has a great deal to do with pride and with not wanting to feel incapable of whatever the task at hand is.
The other day I was talking to a really good friend and I could tell that she was not herself. I asked her two or three times in the call how she was doing and she just said that she was doing OK. I didn’t believe her. I have known her for some time and I know that if she is saying she is OK, then something has to be wrong. I am used to hearing her say that she is blessed and highly favored. I am not used to OK. So, we talked for about an hour and when I hung up I got the strangest feeling. I felt like I had talked to her for the last time. I couldn’t shake it and I didn’t like how things ended, so I called her back. The first time she didn’t answer, so I called back again. This time when she answered she didn’t say anything. I spoke first.
“I’m not hanging up until you tell me what’s wrong.”
Laughter on her end.
“I told you, I’m OK.”
“Yes, that is what you told me, but that is not what I believe. I promise to just listen and not say a word. “
“I will believe that when it happens.”
Laughter again, I could sense that she was loosening up.
“I love you, you know.”
“I know you do. I love you more.”
“Love is an action word. Prove it. Let me try and help you.” There it was. That word that we don’t use enough. Especially women, especially black women, we will carry the world on our shoulders before we ask for help for even the simplest of things.
“I don’t think that you can help me. I don’t want to put my worries on you.”
“What? Girl, I am Wonder Woman. I don’t know who that chick was in the movie, but she ain’t got nothing on me. I’m positive I can help you. My faith is your faith and all I need is a mustard seed.”
“You are so crazy.”
Then she goes on to tell me some things that I would have never imagined. My heart broke. I can only say that I understand exactly where she is and how she got there. I understand because I have been there. We talked for another hour.
“Thank you for listening. It really did help to say the words. To get it out of my head and to know that someone else has been where I am, I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy, but it helps to know that my situation is not unique. I love you sister.”
“You are welcome and I love you too. You made me get snot all over my Wonder Woman outfit. I’m sending you my dry cleaning bill. Bye Felecia!”
It is never easy going into a situation when you are not sure how the other party will react. It is never easy asking for help and making yourself vulnerable. It is also not easy helping sometimes. Sometimes that means being vulnerable too. I think that some of us, me included have forgotten how to help. Help doesn’t always mean giving someone what they are asking for. Sometimes it means really evaluating their situation and giving them what they need. Usually when I am in need of help and I am asking for it, I am asking for the wrong thing. I want help; I don’t want someone to do whatever it is I am in need of for me. That is not helping me because I didn’t do anything.
Help. It is one of the four letter words that is not used enough. Help, not do. Help. I made a promise to myself when I hung the phone up. I would never be helpless again. I will ask for help when I need it and I will not get angry or be disappointed if that help comes in a way that I had not imagined or expected.
I am grateful for friends and for the wisdom to now know that it is OK to ask for help.
“Make yourself necessary to somebody.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”—Kahlil Gibran