Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Finally Learned How to Ask For Help

Have you ever spent many days or nights alone, wondering why Heavenly Father hadn't prompted anyone to call you and/or help you?
Have you ever sat around, praying for someone to come over, but refusing to just suck it up and call somebody?
Have you ever wondered why nobody cared, and yet the thought of asking for help made you freak out and feel guilty and/or selfish?

This used to be me. Until about three months ago. Honestly, it took me a good decade before I realized that God was not going to steer my parked car. He was not going to send somebody to get myself out of something when I was perfectly capable of calling a friend or a ward member and ask for that help. The funny part? I figured this out in therapy! Figures.

Anyway, since it is no longer me, I did not spend this week in agony like I would have many years ago. Instead, I called a few people. I explained my sickness. I didn't mince words. I asked for a few favors --just a few. Such as: "Could you drive my son to preschool?" and "Could you help me clean my house instead of doing girl's night out like we had planned?" and "Could you do carpool for me?"
These favors I requested snowballed. More people found out how sick I was. Many knew Brandon was in London. Just as many know I am pregnant. And so, people started calling: "Can I bring you dinner?" and "Can I help with #2's birthday party?" and "Can I come over tonight to help clean up and put your kids to bed?"
This morning, fairly recovered, I still accepted offers of help: "Can I take your son to preschool?" and "Can I watch your other sick kids while you keep those dr.'s appointments?"

I have learned something from all of this. [A lot of it can be explained in Michelle L's post over at Segullah this morning.] But what I want to say is this:
We cannot expect people to read our minds. Promptings are real, and God does speak to those who can help others, but for the most part, we need to be the ones to reach out and ask for help. The surprise will come when we realize how much people sincerely want to help, they just didn't realize it was needed! And when we allow this to happen, our lives --and theirs --are truly blessed. Beyond words, really.

So, I want to throw out a HUGE thank you to those who have helped me this week (specifically my buddy Michelle, my neighbor Sue, my VT Kris, my friends Lisa, Cheryl, Susan, Yuki, Andi, and Virginia). And thank you to all my online buddies, even though you were far away or unable to help (but wanted to!) --the love you gave me was still felt. And I really appreciate it!

Last thought:
Just ask for help, people. It may seem hard at first and against all of that "self-sufficient" stuff we learn in the Gospel, but I think we take it way too far. It's not "be so self-sustaining that you suffer needlessly and make your life and your children's lives completely miserable." It is "try hard. And if you can't make it, ask for help! This is the purpose of friendship and love. We need to help each other!"


Amanda D said...

I am definitely someone that wonders why someone doesn't call when I having a really crappy day. I realize that I need to call someone but I really don't know who I would call.

Great post, and a great link to Segullah. Great food for thought. Thanks, Cheryl.

Julie said...

Great post, my dear. Loved it.

Cardalls said...

Why is it that we would jump to help someone if they asked us, but we are so reluctant to ask and accept help ourselves. Thanks for this post...I need it right now!

Annette Lyon said...

I loved Michelle's post too.

I have a lot to learn on this one--I'm one of the waiters. The only person I feel like I can call on for favors is one of my visiting teachers. I've been on her route for years, and I know she's genuine when she asks if there's anything she can do. So I've taken her up on it a few times. She's a gem.

Anonymous said...

I love it when my friends ask me for help. It means they think of me as someone they can turn to, and that's what friends are for, man!

Glad you have so many people to help take care of you! Wish I lived closer!

m_and_m said...

I appreciate how you note that we have to help others help us. I wrote about that very thing on my blog a while back.

I'm so happy to hear you were able to get the help you needed, and that you have come to a place where you can ask for it.

Love you, girl. You rock.

Liz said...

Sheesh, it's SO hard to ask for help. I had to, when my husband had cancer -- for something dumb, like driving my daughter to a voice class. I felt so uncomfortable, even though so many people had offered to help out in whatever way possible. I still find it hard, still feel guilty, like there's something wrong with me for not being able to do it all. Escaping Toxic Guilt is a great book by Susan Carrell, and it's helping me overcome all that useless guilt. She covers so many things, including one I think we moms can relate to: if your kids are running your life, how do you get your life back?

Rachel and Nathan Fisher said...

I needed this one today Cheryl! Yesterday was a rough and jam-packed day for me - expecially because I needed to attend a New Beginnings in a ward in our Stake that is almost 2 hours from my house. And, of course, Nate is out of town (he travels most every week). So, not only did I have to get a babysitter, but when I finally got home at 10pm I had to load my 4 sleeping children into the car, drive the babysitter home, drive back home, and try to get all of the kids settled back into bed. Of course this resulted in one child in my bed, another crying for ages, and me feeling super-exhausted and guilty. Of course they were all a little cranky and tired today - and it doesn't help that we seem to have picked up some kind of mild flu bug.

Here's the dumb part - the mother of this babysitter is a good friend of mine. She also often expresses gratitude and appreciation for the things that I do in my calling that bless her daughters. I am SURE that if I had asked her to just pick up her daughter she would have - she was undoubtedly waiting up for her anyway. But - no way - I am self-sufficient! (aka not very smart).

Here's the real question - have I learned my lesson yet?!

Sara said...

I've been meaning to ask, could I borrow $50?


(really though, great post)

flip flop mama said...

What a great post. Loved it!

Michelle Walker said...

Great post, as always. So glad I could help. I actually loved the time spent with you! Even though you were larangitic. Is that a word?

The Conductor said...


I am an avid lurker, fan, whatever you call people like me who love to read you and never leave comments. I think I have to print this one off and post it in plain sight for myself. So often you say just what is in my own mind or heart, or just what I need to hear, and it always helps me be a better person. Finally I am taking a moment to thank you for that. I think you are all shades of amazing and wonderful, and I love you!