This week in honor of the holiday, I thought I would take a break from looking at what’s happening or not happening in the news and focus instead on our own personal lives – especially if they are feeling less than full of Yuletide spirit.
Because at this time of year when everyone is thinking and talking about giving, if you honestly need to ask for help, then by all means you should.
Case in point: A young mother I met a few years back around this time of the year when I walked into a local coffee shop. The normally effervescent girl behind the counter was uncharacteristically ashen faced, with smears of wiped away tears revealing that she was obviously in trouble.
“What’s wrong,” I asked sincerely and quietly, making sure we had a private moment.
“I can’t pay my rent this month, and I think my daughter and I will be kicked out of our apartment,” she responded. “I really don’t know what to do.” She went on to explain the series of unforeseen events that had led to a shortfall this month. She was almost too ashamed to elaborate.
Luckily I know a few things about how to get help in such situations. I told her how to contact her local Saint Vincent de Paul Society. It assists those in short term financial need with help paying their rents or mortgages, along with cash for utilities and groceries. She also asked a few others for help.
Things worked out. It made me feel good to help. And I am glad she told me how she needed help, and that she asked others for help as well.
Because I believe God wants you to ask for help if you need it. Not just when you put your hands together to pray, but when you come face to face with another of God’s children. In fact, if you don’t ask, you are doing yourself, God and the rest of the world a big disservice. Here’s why.
Answer this simple question Do you enjoy helping others? Do you grow and benefit from helping others? Of course you do. What would happen to you if others never allowed you to help them? That would be denying you all the grace that you receive through loving others.
Therefore if you need help, you should be proud of your need. Because it allows people to help you, and enables God to work through them in your life, bestowing grace upon them as well, and helping them to grow.
If you don’t allow others to help you, you are denying them their access to that same grace. And the only way that others really know you need help is if you ask for it.
Now all of this is not a rubber stamp to be selfish and simply ask others all the time for what you can do yourself, or for whatever selfish wants you have. Obviously we need to try to take care of ourselves as best we can, and to do our part in life to help others.
But when all that fails, and you really need help — ask. It’s okay. In fact, it would be morally irresponsible for you not to reach out and ask for help.
Maybe that means needing a little help financially. Or needing some assistance with a problem at work or in your family. Perhaps you need someone to help you with an overload of errands. Even if it just means you need someone to talk to in case the holidays aren’t the easiest time of the year for you for a hundred different reasons.
And by the way, that doesn’t mean you cannot give at the same time as you receive. Because though you may not believe it right now, you reaching out may allow someone else to talk about his needs. Or to share with you his feelings. Maybe to cultivate a new relationship or deepen an old one in a way that will help that person now or in the future.
And all they will have to do is ask.