I admit there is a bit of irony in me writing a blog about asking for help, as I am historically challenged in this area of my life. However, I also believe we, as writers, are often drawn to subjects about which we need the most help. So, here goes.
"You can't always get what you want", crooned the Rolling Stones, "but you get what you need" (You can click on the band's name if you need a refresher of the song). I think this is so true in so many aspects of my own life, and perhaps yours as well.
Notably, I have changed my tune about prayer in the last few decades. I used to pray for sick friends to get healthy; I used to pray that God would get me out of a sticky situation; I used to pray for worldly things. That first one is likely to stir up a bit of controversy (what doesn't, these days, so I might as well go for it, right?), as many people do this in their daily prayer life----pray for the sick to get well. Here is my reasoning behind not doing that. When we pray for people to get well, then they die, does that mean we didn't do a good enough job praying? If the person does get well, and we say "They beat cancer", did they have better prayers for them? And what does that say about all the people who passed away from cancer? Their prayer partners weren't close enough to God? They weren't spiritually strong enough to "beat cancer"? I actually think that is a pile of bologna (it really would sound better if we spelled it the way it sounds, wouldn't it?).
So, what do I do, instead? I always pray for peace and serenity for the person or family while they traverse whatever is going on in their lives, because they are going to live or die depending on whether God needs them here on earth or by His side (that's my belief, anyway; you have your own, I know). I just don't believe that anything happens by accident. I do believe we have free will, but I also believe that no matter how great our prayer warriors are or how "strongly" I try to fight cancer, I may still die, and that is not the fault of my prayer warriors' or my own spiritual fitness or lack thereof. I pray for the peace that passes all understanding as my loved ones go through whatever the journey is that is playing out in their lives. I pray for serenity to encompass the person/family while they travel the tough spots ahead.
So, do I ask for God's help? Every single solitary morning. I get down on my knees, while I am nose-to-nose with L.C. or Kirby (or both, sometimes), and I ask God to help me let go of my own self-will and give it up to Him, because I have found over the course of my lifetime that my own thinking about what is "right" can be pretty flawed, but God's wisdom, while it might not be what I want, is exactly what is planned out for me. That is true acceptance.
Despite all of that, I still have to ask for help, as so many do at times. I have to pick up the phone and talk to a spiritual advisor when facing tough decisions, and that phone can feel like it weighs 1000 pounds at times. I often feel like I am burdening someone with asking, when in retrospect, people who are asked typically attest to feeling even better for having been able to help someone else.
I was talking with my graduate students (teachers who are on the road to getting their degree in order to become principals), and many have said they don't like asking for help, but they know they need to do it, because principals simply cannot do all the work required of them by themselves. I learned this lesson myself as a school leader. I learned that, sometimes, by asking for help and using distributed leadership, I could build future leaders. I learned that, sometimes, asking people to step up to a challenge was exactly what they needed in the first place to become better in their own craft.
My graduate students and I have also been talking about how we can support new teachers in induction programs. Many of these beginning teachers don't even know what they don't know, so they wouldn't know what to ask for in the first place. When I asked my students what would have helped them the most when they were new to the education field, most everyone mentioned needing/wanting a mentor....someone they could go to who would never judge their seemingly stupid or naive questions....someone who would provide resources that they think the new person needs without even being asked.
Dave and I will very soon celebrate 30 years of marriage together. For that, I am eternally grateful. He has taught me so much in life and love, but one of the best skills he ever taught me was about how to ask for something I needed or wanted. If I wanted to request a room upgrade at the hotel where I was staying, he taught me to ask in a really respectful or funny way. For example, he will say, "Any chance you have the penthouse suite all ready for us?" The desk agent laughs. Dave continues, "Okay, maybe that isn't available, but might there be an upgrade in our future?" Sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes it's "no" (I would go into the benefits or higher probability of the answer being a "yes" when you stick with a hotel chain out of loyalty----they will typically be loyal to you, as well, but that is a whole other blog for a whole other time), but Dave's famous last words are, "It never hurts to ask". So very well said, my wise husband. It never hurts to ask.
Whether we are ailing mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally; whether we need directions (that is likely a whole other blog, as well); whether we need some support from our friends as we navigate a post-surgery experience; whether we are new to a position and need some answers, the first step is to ASK for help.
I pray that you will be able to find peace and serenity today, and that, if it feels elusive, we ask for help from our Higher Power. I would love to know what you ask for, what you need, or any stories of asking and receiving.