One of the things that excite my children about visiting their grandmother at her apartment is the ducks and geese there. The complex has several small ponds with fountains that are inhabited by large families of birds. This time of year, they are all parading around with their new additions, long lines of baby geese following behind their mamas through the parking lots and under the balconies, taking in the morning sun and enjoying the view.
It isn’t just the mamas who stroll with their own babies, though. Sometimes, another goose takes the children out on a walk so the mother can sit in the shade and bathe.
If even mama geese know they need to take breaks and allow others to help them, why is it so hard for us to do it?
I am guilty of trying to do it all by myself sometimes. Not wanting to be a burden to someone or to add to someone else’s workload, I try to avoid asking for help, even when I know I need it. I think of reaching out for help as a last resort, only slightly preferable to dissolving in a puddle of stress and tears because I’ve reached the end of my rope.
Why do we tell ourselves that it is more righteous to toil on by ourselves than to ask for support from friends or family?
God did not design us to travel this journey alone. We were made for community. Our God, who created the heavens and the earth and each of us, is a God of relationships. He began this work in community – Let us make man in our image! – and called it good. He saw that it was not best for man to be alone, and he made a partner for him.
It’s not good for us to always be alone now, either. Long hours of sitting by ourselves and thinking too much about our situation can, for some of us, just make everything seem even worse.
What keeps us from reaching out? I think we’re afraid. We’re afraid to show people what a mess we are. We’re worried about being rejected, anxious that we won’t be accepted for who we are, concerned that our houses are not nice enough or that our kids won’t be well-behaved enough.
The thing is, we all feel these things. Everyone has days when her life seems like one huge disastrous mess. If we shared these messes with each other, we would all know that everyone else is dealing with a mess, too…and we could help each other clean them up. We wouldn’t have to worry about being judged by others, because we’d all be too busy helping each other.
Let’s change the pattern. On the bad days, the worst days, when it seems like there is never going to be any relief, don’t be alone. Reach out. Call a friend. Go to Mass. Go for a walk at the park and talk to someone you see there. Remember that your neighbor said to let her know if you needed anything, and take her up on the offer. Give people the gift of sharing your mess with them, and let them help you when you need it. When you’re feeling better, you can return the favor, and the world will be a better place because we’ll all be using our gifts to help each other.
We’re all part of the Body of Christ. Each part has a different function. If you share your need with someone and allow her to help you, you are encouraging her to use her particular gift in a way that builds up the Kingdom of God.
Copyright 2017 Abbey Dupuy