Life is hard. It is too hard to do alone.
Someone once told me healthy adults know when to raise their hands and ask for help. This was a sharp turn from all of the things I had heard before about what it means to be successful. For too long, I believed I needed to be an employee who has all the answers, a leader in all walks of life, a parent who never loses patience and a spouse who is always romantic.
It is no wonder we are so stressed. We are plagued by anxiety and mental health issues. The weight of the world is too much to bear alone.
When to Ask For Help
A few years ago, I was a youth pastor and I was stuck in this narrative. I thought I had to have all the answers. I needed to be flawless at planning retreats and events, managing the budget, and empathizing in relationships with a wide array of teens.
The wheels fell off pretty quickly.
It is humbling to admit you just can’t do something. You really need some help. And because it involves humility, we try to hold out longer than possible. We think, it’s just one more little thing; I can do it! Or, I can figure this out.
It is humble but powerful to ask for help. To raise your hand and honestly invite others into your story. To ask them to be your community. To ask them to allow you to be theirs.
We need one another. Properly asking for help is a step in naming community for what it is worth.
When NOT to Ask for Help
Like all good things, there is a potential to overdo it to the point it becomes a problem.
After that youth ministry experience, I started asking for help inappropriately. I started “delegating” my responsibilities so I never had to take any risks. Never had to do anything or take ownership of a choice. I deferred and deferred.
There is a fine line between inter-dependency and codependency. “Do this for me” is not the same as “help me do this”.
We sometimes use the idea of asking for help as a mechanism to manipulate others.
The Delicate Balance
And so, we find ourselves in an even more confusing place than when we began. There are things we are responsible for and need to take ownership of via our decisions and perspectives. Yet, there are things we cannot accomplish or even perceive without the help of others.
Asking for help is an art, not a science. It is a delicate balance.
One key is to make sure we lead with discovering truth. It is a red flag if we demand others to help (or do something for) us. If we demand they take responsibility for what ails us. This is blaming. This is victim mentality. It is projection. Far from healthy community, this is a way we set up a ME There and require the world around us to conform.
We need others to discover truth, not to do our bidding. If we are honestly seeking truth, how we fall short and how we might participate therein, we are on our way to discerning when and where to ask for help.