On Grace: And So This Is How I Asked for Help

When I became the only parent of two children, aged 5 and 7, I learned more skills about asking for help, about asking for help when I would never be able to reciprocate fully, never be able to pay that person or that family back, but would have to settle with paying it forward, or just accepting the gift of it.  I am better at asking for help than I used to be and I’m guessing (or so my friends say) that I can still improve.

It’s just so darn risky.  What if I ask and nobody answers?  What if I ask and somebody, in fact, answers?  What if I lose control?  What if I lose my false sense of control that seems to be what keeps me afloat in times of worry or trouble?  What if someone sees me as weaker/less competent because I asked for help?  What if that someone is me?

It’s a jumble of thoughts and emotions, acidic rather than juicy, not just complicated, but labyrinthine.

So here’s what happened when I recently, and purposely, asked for help.  I wrote this in an email to a select group of friends, detailing my circumstance:

What do I need from you? 

  • No ideas about what to do unless 1) you have been through this before, and then, 2) ONLY TENDERLY suggested to me after you have asked if I want to hear it and 3) I have consented. 
  • NOTHING that sounds like you think I am doing too much or too little. 
  • Inspirational quotes about living with helplessness would be FUCKING AWESOME. 
  • I asked for prayers from a high school friend this morning, so if you are inclined, I’m open to them. 
  • My patience is sub-par, so here is my apology ahead of time: I am sorry if I have no patience with you.  Here’s my double standard: could you please still have it with me? 
  • I am swearing alot these days, including “No shit, Sherlock” which is highly satisfying. 
  • Understanding if I don’t pick up the phone, but please leave me a message because I will listen to it.

And this is what has happened thus far, in response to the email, and other ways I have asked for help in this situation…

  • Nearly everyone to whom I wrote, wrote back. 
  • A neighbor (not mine) offered me frequent flier miles.
  • Two old friends agreed to let me sleep at their places on short notice.  One offered to drive three-and-a-half hours (one way!) and be at my beck and call.
  • A person I met only once, but who is a member of my faith community in a faraway place and offered theoretical help many months ago, responded with a researched answer to one of my many dilemma.
  • One dear friend offered her lap into which I could lay my head and weep, while also offering a sheltering place for cussing – a perfect combo!
  • Once this is all passed, one offered to go on a bike ride someday to see a house that used to have a bevy of pink bikes and a sign that says, “Continue in prayer.”
  • One friend said he sees the divine light in me.
  • One tried to send me digital hearts via text that came out as gobbledeegook but that happens sometimes, our attempts to be useful gets lost in the translation, but still the loving message gets through.
  • A professor said, “Anything you need…”
  • A dear friend offered the best sardonic reference – god, I love gallows humor at a time like these.  Of course, it makes me question my fitness as a minister-wnanabee, but I’ve met other ministers who are way darker than I am, so I think I’m okay here.
  • One sent this inspirational quote, which I think is just perfect


Here’s what I am still wishing for (in case you want to help, too)…

A David Sedaris doll, in my possession by next week’s Tuesday 2pm, to keep me company and to invoke what is likely to be my most repeated prayer.  If you don’t already understand this reference, then read this.

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