As I pondered what the fourth day of Christmas meant to me, a few things came to mind: the four horsemen of the apocalypse (and inevitably Terry Pratchett), the 4/death combo in Chinese, and the four words I hate to say. They’ve taught me a lot this year, because every single one of them is vital and has taught me something new. So here’s the phrase:
I need help, please.
I struggle to say those words. Every time. We can discuss them in any aspect of my life: personal, interpersonal, academic, emotional, or all-encompassing spiritual… and the result is the same. I don’t like to admit I need assistance, and I’ll put it off as long as possible or ignore it all altogether if I think I can do without. And that’s not healthy. Not in any of those categories. I’m not talking about life or death situations, or serious crises of self–but 2016 has still been a great year for learning how to ask for help, in all of the mentioned aspects of my life. Here’s the breakdown on what each of these words taught me:
I: For a single letter pronoun, this is such a loaded word. There are slogans about it, for heaven’s sake. “No I in team”, “no u in my ice cream”, “you are the I in independent”. In a society so tormented by finding your “true self” and “being honest” there’s a whole lot of ostentation. And just like myself, there’s a lot of people trying so hard to be “real” they forget that real isn’t synonymous with standout, norm-breaker or new. How does “I” apply to the phrase? Well, this year I learned to treat this pronoun with care: to understand that she’s not perfect, that nobody’s “I” is perfect. That I don’t have to try so hard to be “myself” and that standing out in performance doesn’t mean I’ve found myself. I learned that I deserves more love, but no leeway either. I am that pronoun, and it’s precious to me.
Need: This was a doozy to come to terms with. It’s difficult enough to ask for assistance, but it’s downright humiliating for me (I don’t know about the rest of y’all) to admit that it’s not just something I’d like, but rather something I need. I can remember a few really hard shifts at work, a few months into the job, that brought me to my knees and made me ask for help. One night it particular, between the hazy migraine and nightmares, comes to mind. That more than anything taught me an important lesson. Some things aren’t optional. Sometimes we just… need help. This is never more true than in our spiritual worthiness, where Christ is the only way we can succeed. There is no way but Christ, and I have been constantly reminded of that this year. I need Him. I need His love, His atonement, and His grace.
Help: In the phrase, this word scares me the most. It makes me feel small and week and burdensome. But that’s terribly misleading, because I’m forgetting two things. One, someone strong enough to ask for help is strong indeed. And two, help is just that—help. It’s not complete control, it’s not takeover or giving up the reigns. It’s assistance meant to give you a boost. Help can’t do it for you, it can only add a little to your efforts. Help means being humble enough to look at the world through new eyes, and strong enough to keep going yourself without giving up.
Please: When I feel I’m at a disadvantage, it’s easy to get defensive. It’s easy to throw up a wall or two, say a few things I don’t mean and a few more I do but still shouldn’t have said and be done with it. But this word makes that impossible. Because please is only one half of an implied equation. If you’re asking with a please then I was always taught there’s a thank you that needs to follow it up. And gratitude for assistance can’t come with a scowl or snarky comments. It means admitting that you’re not just another charity case—or that you are, and that’s still ok.
These four words have taught me so much this year. They taught me not to stress out at work, not to stress out at school, built my relationship with my mom, and helped me feel peace again in my standing with the Lord. I couldn’t be more grateful, and I’m glad they were a part of my 2016.
Thanks for reading and tune in tomorrow for the Best Genre Drama, or go back and look at the Best Melodrama!