(Press the music button!)
Don’t worry, I’m not in peril… and nope, not the Beatles song either.
I’ve been at this point in my life for a bit where I really need a lotta help. No, not like mental sickness “help” (hopefully), but the practical kind of help. Like, financial help — I understand the luxury and the blessing of it all, don’t worry… cause my parents have really helped me in this area, BIG TIME. Or, emotional help — I’ve talked through an innumerable amount of ideas, hardships, worries, and cares with some people who love me way more than I deserve. How about spiritual help — following Jesus is already absolutely nonsensical… which really emphasizes the value of mentors, pastors, and just really wise friends who can help you along in the journey. Lastly, but certainly not in summation, career help — getting coffee with people who are busier, more talented, and more important than me, and yet, still allow me learn from them in a really personal, authentic way.
…All of that to say, I’m kindof a mess, and I’m okay with that. Really proves the point though, huh?
I was recently on this train of thought, about how if I had done even one, single thing differently in my life up to this point, I would literally not be the same person. It’s like that crazy “butterfly effect” kinda stuff. And as I was astonished by the concept, I thought of the people who have changed me the most in that same manner. If it wasn't for the people who chose to add value to me, inspire my dreams, spend time with gross middle school Aaron, invest in my future, instill values, or teach valuable wisdom… I most surely would not be the same. If someone had not helped me along the way, who knows where I would be in life right now. I bet you I wouldn’t be writing this blog… *mind blown*
But it wasn’t like a conscious thing. The mental conversation never went anything like…
“Self, you’re weak in XYZ area. But that guy over there, yeah the one with the cool black slicked back hair… he’s really great in XYZ area. Everyone knows it. Self, you need to acquire that friendship. Learn all that you possibly can from him, glean his XYZ prowess, assess your life, and see how he can help you…”
Of course not! Nobody has that much self-awareness (or nerdy, ambitious pride)… in my situation, what I needed was someone to help me in life, and thats what happened. That’s how I received help — I was never actively pursuing the systematic help of my friend, and yet, he still helped me. As humans, we’re never really focused on the act asking for help, cause at the end of the day, we’re focused on the object of the help-asking. The location. The craft. The struggle. The understanding that there’s something you lack, in which someone else is strong in, that’s where the ask for help lives. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It’s never just as easy as it seems — we’re human after all. We’ve gotta make it complicated…
So, somewhere along the line in cultural stereotype history, there came this understanding that “men don’t like to ask for directions”, and it’s somewhat true. As a member of this particular gender, I could see where that mentality could come in… I love the thrill of making it happen: figuring out a dilemma, building something, getting somewhere, fixing a broken thing. But in that zone, that intrinsic exhilaration, I’m not much of a team-player. Call it being driven, or call it humanity’s hunger for glory… all I know is that “I’ve got this.” Most times, that lack of help-asking comes as the result of pride — it would be to admit weakness and a lack of knowledge if someone asked for help. But without asking, it’s not gonna happen… so what’s there left to do?
(Just to be politically correct, or whatever… the example is of a man cause that’s what the stereotype is. Maybe you agree, maybe not. I don’t really care. I hope you know that EVERYONE — men and women alike — are prone to this weakness. Just had to throw that in there cause, like I said, we’ve gotta make things complicated…)
The funny thing is that we NEED help from others, even though we’re often too brash to admit it.
As silly as it sounds, we must practice being in desperate need of other people. It contradicts every self-help book, teenage pep talk, and motivational poster out there, but it’s oh, so necessary. It seems like the opposite of leadership or confidence or strength, but on the contrary… all of those things start by thoroughly understanding weaknesses, seeing the benefit of community, and moving forward in that. You’re not meant to do things on your own, and when you try to, you can only get so far. Before being okay with asking for help, you must be okay with the fact that you’re not perfect… you might be good, even great in some areas, and while that’s valuable (we’ll talk about that next), you’re not a master of this life.
Okay, I’m gonna steal some words real quick. The endearing kind of stealing called “quoting”… not the nasty sort called “plagiarizing.” You need to hear these words. Cause they’re really good words.
Man. Such a powerful paragraph. We’re so often found in our need for definition — we must be either this or that, here or there, close or far. As usual, here’s identity, being found as a gigantic, massive human need that’s become so nonchalant and unimportant and fluid to this culture. How can we do ANYTHING at all if we don’t know who, where, how, and why we are? And in that same regard, we’re presented with this identity paradigm of “helped” or “helper” that must be addressed in our awareness of this issue. We’ve kindof talked about being the “helped” so far, so how about being the “helper?”
Just to boost your self-esteem real quick, you’re not a total failure. There, I said it. Hope that helps. But, just as much as you’re wholly, fully in desperate need of the help of others… you’re also phenomenal and amazing just as you are, fully capable of helping other people! (Told you this is paradox…) There are things about you that other people need. Your wisdom, your keen sense of direction, your ability to cast vision, the way you care about people, and even your wonderful sense of humor… don't think for a second that you don’t have anything to offer this world. This world desperately needs YOU!
Now sometimes, the greatest help is found in the pragmatic — giving somebody a ride, buying a meal, giving insight, providing a job — people vary in the kind of need that they have, and you’ve gotta be willing to help however you can, even if its uncomfortable. I have this motto that I’ve adopted over the years… you’re probably thinking, “Geesh man, how many one-liners and cliches have you made your own? You’ve listed like twenty on the blog up until now…” It’s sort of like my hobby, collecting wisdom and great sayings… so, #sorrynotsorry? But the simple idea is this: “ALWAYS do the right thing.” Apply that to any and all situations. I have to think small scale and practically in order to actually apply something like this, so…
EVERY time someone sneezes, I say “bless you.” EVERY time I see a bunch of water around the sink in a restroom, I clean it up. EVERY time I see someone coming up behind me going into a place, I hold the door open. EVERY time I pass a stranger in a walkway, I smile or say hello. Y’see what I’m saying? More than likely, you already know what’s right, even down to the smallest things… but you think of a million reasons not to act. Well, consider this tiny saying to be your incentive to ALWAYS do the right thing.
Now, apply that to helping people. Someone needs their car jumped? Do it. A lady at the grocery store can’t reach the top shelf? Help her. See someone feeling down? Make their day. Old lady crossing the street? JUST DO IT! It’s about the little things — if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss em. But don’t do these things cause I told you to — be kind and helpful and wonderful because that’s the kind of person you are!
BIG IDEA: Be humble enough to be the “helped” - Be bold enough to be the “helper.”
I pray that in this day, you’ll let go of your false sense of perfectionism and be humble enough to ask for help. It’s okay to be in need. It’s okay to not be the best or the strongest or the most successful — honestly admit your identity as a “helped” person, and move forward in the care of those who have been where you’re at. And in the same breath, realize that you’re the most spectacular “you” that’s ever been! Take joy in the strengths and talents and quirks that the Lord has put in you, and enjoy the person that you are! I pray that you find peace in that identity today… and when you do, be a “helper!” I need you — the world needs you! Be willing to share your strength, and be bold enough to bask in the uncomfortability of truly helping those who need it. This journey isn’t a one person ride. We need each other, and that’s beautiful. I love you, friend, and I’m glad you’re here. Take heart, and keep moving forward.