One day while planning my next book, help balloonI realized I needed more information than I could get from books or the internet. I needed to talk to a real, live person with some experience in either handing out or being on the receiving end of certain medications.

So I sent a note to one of the listservs I’m on.

By the end of the evening, nine people had contacted me, each one offering information and more assistance as needed. The next day, three more people contacted me.

The readiness to help reminded me of something Barbara Sher frequently says: people like to share what they know.

In Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want, Barbara says, “Sharing skills and resources is a deep human pleasure and need, one that’s wired into our survival just as much as hunger and sex.”

Thinking about that got me thinking about the many passages in the New Testament when Jesus told us to ask God for what we need. Passages like John 14:14 “If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it..” Or John 15:16 “You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.”

Now, I know as well as you do that Jesus wasn’t telling us God would give us anything we wanted if we just ask for it. There are conditions, such as being in His will.

But I do think that sometimes we don’t have what we need simply because we don’t ask for help—from our family, our friends, our co-workers or employers, and, yes, even from God.

helping handSometimes we don’t ask because of fear of getting a gruff “No,” but more often, I think it’s embarrassment that keeps us from asking. We live in an age when self-sufficiency is lauded. We see the movie hero who wins against thousands, and think we should be like that. But it’s simply not real life. Sure, it’s good to do your best and all that, but the truth is, in addition to our own efforts, we need all the help from other people and God that we can get. There’s no such thing as the self-made man or woman.

I’m thinking of making this the year I ask for help at least once a week. Okay, maybe mostly I’ll ask for help on small things. But if i get good at asking for help, when I need help with a bigger thing, I’ll be in practice, and I’ll know lots of people willing to give me a hand.

Just think of the pleasure I’ll be giving everyone who gets to help me! Not only will they get the chance to show what they can do, but they’ll know they had a hand in whatever I manage to accomplish.


October 11, 2013

About the author 

N. J. Lindquist

N. J. Lindquist is the award-winning author of books, articles, short stories, and blog posts. She also edits and publishes the "Hot Apple Cider" anthologies. A former high school teacher, N. J. co-founded The Word Guild and teaches workshops for writers as well as speaking on various topics including creativity and leadership.

  • The ability to ask for help is most definitely a muscle worth strengthening. I think you’ve set yourself a worthy goal!

    I am doing a lot of caregiving for a 90-year-old who cannot ask for help and she’s gotten herself into some life-threatening situations that were totally avoidable. She simply could not overcome the barrier of SHAME that’s attached to asking for assistance. As the commenter above said, it’s a pride thing and the roots can go deep.

    Thanks for pointing out much others get out of being able to help. We are designed for community and keep trying to resist it.

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