Defeat lived at the other end of the snow scoop I had borrowed from my next-door neighbor. Last night’s snow was only about 6″ deep, but it was heavy. Really heavy. Back-breakingly heavy. Heart-attack heavy. I started with a path down the middle of the driveway, then got as far as the photo shows.
This is the first year since 1992 that I’ve shoveled snow at all. I compressed a couple of vertebrae in a car accident that winter. From that time on, I either found a neighbor kid who would shovel for me or lived in a parsonage where the church took care of it. The same was true with lawn care.
A couple of years ago, I began a diet and exercise program, lost a lot of weight, gained a lot of strength and drastically improved my fitness level. Mowing my own lawn and shoveling my own snow are victories for me. I don’t always like doing them, but I rejoice in the fact that I can do them. I try to mow and shovel with gratitude for the way my body has responded to better care.
Not today, though. Today, the snow won. Today I was defeated.
So I had to exercise a different muscle. I had to stretch and strengthen my “asking for help” muscle. My neighbor across the street was shoveling and I yelled that this was the time I wished for a snowblower. She said, “We have one, but my husband thinks we need to have five feet of snow before he’ll fire it up.” I suggested she should let him know that this was five feet of snow, just all packed down! She laughed and said she was going to tell him to fire it up when he got home and then come over and do my driveway.
When I returned the snow scoop to my other neighbor and admitted my defeat, he said he was going to play with his new snowblower after work and if my driveway still needed to be cleared, he’d do it for me.
I am constantly reminded of people’s good hearts and generosity, and of how much they truly want to help and give to others.
Why, then, is it so hard to ask for help?
It’s difficult for me to just say, “Can you come over with your snowblower and clear my driveway?” I’m supposed to be self-sufficient, right? And if I can’t do it, I should probably hire someone to do it for me, right? It just seems so much easier to contract with someone to do something than it is to ask them to do it as a favor. I’m so much better at helping than I am at asking for it. I’m pretty good at accepting it if it’s offered, but asking for it directly, honestly, and not passive-aggressively is tough. Like many people, I know how to drop hints until someone offers to help, but that’s not really the same thing as just plain asking. I’m great at encouraging clients to ask for help; I’m just not always so good at taking my own medicine.
Asking for help shows my vulnerability. It says to people that I can’t actually do everything in the world all by myself. It’s easy to think of that as weakness. It’s not. It’s real. I can’t do everything in the world all by myself. Neither can you. Neither can anyone. I can, however, do some of it. And my “some” may be different than your “some.” And your “some” will be different than another person’s. Joining together at our vulnerable places makes us all stronger.
People love to give. Today, I’m going to let them.
How will you let someone give to you today?
Think about it and answer in the comments.