“Do you help some help?”
She was talking about help opening the door. She saw the crock pot in my hands.
“No, I’m alright. I got it.”
And I did. I had the maneuver down. I would set the crock pot down, open the door, wedge my foot between the door and the door frame, turn about halfway to pick up the crock pot again, push the door opening with my foot until it was big enough for me to fit through until eventually I made it through the door. I then walked up a flight of stairs and repeated the process through three more doors until I finally reached my room.
Seems like a complicated process considering that someone was willing to help me open doors. But I rejected the offer because I didn’t need the help. It was a small thing, really. Not that big in the grand scheme of life, but it underscores a greater issue: I don’t readily ask for or accept help.
I don’t like asking for help because I don’t like needing help. I don’t like admitting when I can’t do things on my own. Someone called me independent this summer, and like a bird who puffs up his feathers, it puffed up a bit of pride in me. “I am independent,” I bragged about myself inside my thoughts.
At the end of spring semester last year, I had last-minute found a place to stay for the summer. However, I was flying to Europe for a trip with my school the Tuesday after classes got out and I had to stay around for RA responsibilities anyway, so there was no real point for my parents to come and help me move my belongings out of my dorm room. I think it took four car trips to pack up my little car, drive it over to my summer home and unpack it there. And I did it all by myself.
I didn’t enjoy doing it by myself, in fact, with each trip down (I lived on the second floor) and out to my car, I could feel a little anger boiling up under my skin. I didn’t like that I was alone in this. I wanted help. But would I have asked for any help? No. Not that there was even anyone to ask to help me who would have helped me anyway. And it’s not like I wasn’t perfectly capable of doing it by myself, I know full well that there are other people who have to do it by themselves, too. However, I would pass by parents who were carrying their daughter’s stuff out, fathers who were much stronger than me, and I would get angry. I felt alone. Yet, I felt this pride afterward because I hadn’t needed anyone. I did it on my own.
I felt these same emotions several times over the summer—when I had a flat tire and changed it myself and then had to figure out where to get a new tire while the rain was down-pouring on me as tire place after tire place would tell me that they didn’t have my size of tire. “I can it this all myself,” I tell myself. “I don’t need anyone.”
But you and I both know how untrue that is.
Frequently I am walking around carrying too much or buying things at Wal-Mart trying to hold it all just in my hands when I really should have gotten a cart. I am often covered with an expression that I am doing too much and about to fall apart. Yet if anyone asked if I needed help, I can bet you that more often than not I’d have the same response: “No, I’m alright. I got it.” or “No, I’m fine, thanks.”
But I need help. Desperately. We all do. We can’t do this all alone. We need each other.
I remember listening to Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms this past year at the National Youth Worker’s Convention in Atlanta. The story he shared was a story that connects to the simple truth that, as people, we need other people.
“Hope exists, and help exists,” he shared. If you know the story of TWLOHA, you know that Jamie had an experience with a young woman who was hurting, and had, at the time he met her, recently used a blade to cut the F word into her arm. People all want to know if healing and sobriety are real and if they can have healing and sobriety for themselves. The young woman loved the idea that maybe her pain had purpose. She wanted to believe a better life was possible, and that it was for her. “The phrase [To Write Love on Her Arms] was really a goal,” he said. We are all connected to this story. It is a similar story, but it is all connected to a story that is much larger than just ourselves. It is not a story that is connected to any specific demographic—it is part of the human condition to search for identity. It is a story where questions like “am I loved?” and “am I loveable?” are asked.
He shared a quote from The Shack where Paul Young writes: “Most of our hurts come through relationships, but so does our healing. Grace often doesn’t make sense from the outside.” Often people believe that their friends and family have enough on their plate, so even when there is real hurting and pain and depression, they do not ask for help. We are called to do more than pray. If someone broke their arm, we would definitely pray for the healing, but we would pray on the way to getting help. Same must go for those suffering with depression or any hurt. God has given us tools, resources. Healing happens when we let people in, and maybe sometimes that is just inviting people in to help with questions.
So, here I am. Often pretending like I don’t need help, maybe just so I don’t have to let anyone in. My professor recently shared the idea that it is easier to blow the roof off of our problems and let God in than it is so break down the walls and let other people in. I think that is true. But we need each other. Oh, how desperately we need each other. We can’t do this alone.
So, next time I’m standing there with too much to carry on my own, please don’t let me say no to you opening a door.
P.S. I plan on sharing more of my heart about this summer and my plans to go with the Youth in Mission team to London, but in the meantime, if you want to support Youth in Mission (and me), visit the Youth in Mission Funds homepage where you can donate funds (my name is Andra Kee if you are having trouble searching for participants). If you have any questions about this, I would be more than happy to answer them!