I was drowning.
For a couple of months last autumn, on Wednesday afternoons, my three kids had a meeting for the school newspaper, musical rehearsal, swim lessons, dance class, art class, and basketball practice. And my wife was working. While I like to pretend that I can do everything, sometimes all it takes is a Wednesday afternoon to remind you that you are not, actually, God.
So, on a Wednesday afternoon, I asked for help.
I asked one of our new friends in town—whose kids also attend some of the same activities as our kids—if he could take our daughters to dance class together. An hour later, we were both picking up kids at art class when I offered to get the girls from dance. He declined. For some reason, it made me feel anxious, so I asked again. He looked back at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “No thanks, I want you in my debt.”
I want you in my debt.
Poet and author David Whyte writes,
Help is strangely, something we want to do without, as if the very idea disturbs and blurs the boundaries of our individual endeavors, as if we cannot face how much we need in order to go on.
To need help is to be human. To embrace our need for help is to embrace our worthiness—to know that while we are not strong enough to be without needs, we are still good enough when we are in need.
But to ask for help?
To ask for help is to be vulnerable—to hand our fragile sense of worthiness to someone else and entrust them with it. To ask for help is to test the foundation of our belonging—to trust that our people will keep us around, not only when we are helpful to them, but also when we are helpless before them.
To ask for help is to be indebted to others for the life we are trying to live.
Every transformation has at its heart the need to ask for the right kind of generosity…[this] vulnerability is the very door through which we must pass in order to open the next horizon of our lives.
Help is a door someone holds open for us, and walking through it requires great courage, because any door you can walk into is also, always, a door you can be kicked out of. It takes courage to come to the end of ourselves and ask to borrow someone else’s strength for a while.
We are born with an absolute necessity for help, grow well only with a continuous succession of extended hands, and as adults depend upon others for our further successes and possibilities in life…Even the most solitary writer needs a reader…
For five years, I’ve been a solitary writer and you, dear reader, have been helping me all along, through the act of reading itself. Yet, this exchange has felt comfortable. I have not, for the most part, had to ask for your help. I’ve written. You’ve read. It has felt safely balanced to me.
But, finally, I have to leave that safety.
Until now, I’ve trusted my words to be carried wherever the gentle breeze of your enthusiasm might take them; now, I’m going to ask if you’d be willing to focus your wind. Specifically, I’m assembling a team of people who will, over the next two months, work with me to help me launch my new book, Loveable. In exchange for a free, early digital copy of Loveable, these folks will consider sharing the book through social media, leave an honest Amazon review on March 21, and consider buying a copy of the book during that week if they haven’t already done so.
In other words, I’m asking for your help, I’ll be in your debt, and I will have to trust that while I’ve been worthy as a giver of help, I will also be worthy as a receiver of help. So…
Will you join me on the Loveable Street Team?
If you are interested in joining, you can click here to sign up. Of course, if you aren’t interested, I’m still every bit as grateful for you. You are still worthy. You still belong here. And I still hope, together, we can help you live the redemptive story you are here to live.
Speaking of which, what do you need help with in your life right now? Who will you ask for help? Whose doorway will you walk through? What debt will you have the courage to create? Don’t wait. The asking doesn’t get any easier with delay; the need only grows larger. And remember: to be human is to be in need.
Life is a continuous succession of helping hands.
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P.S. Loveable is available for pre-order and, for a limited time, when you order it, you will get a free bonus—The Year of Listening, Loving, and Living—a second full-length book I’ve written as a practical companion to Loveable. You can click here to find out more.