I don't like to ask for help. Whether it comes from pride (I couldn't dare let anyone know I am not capable of something!), arrogance (no one could possibly fill the dishwasher as well as me!), or not wanting to bother others (I'm sure you have enough problems of your own!), or some combination thereof, I would really prefer to handle things myself. Yet I found myself standing in the middle of a parking lot earlier this month, yelling out to a group of complete strangers to please help me NOW!
On a beautiful blue-sky, sun-shining kind of day, my daughter and I joined some friends for a perfectly lovely play date. After strolling through a park and stopping at a little bakery, we headed back to the car, where I strapped the babe in her carseat, tossed my purse in the passenger seat, loaded the stroller in the back, and walked around to the driver's side door. But it didn't open - not the first time I pulled the handle, or the next, or the time after that. I reached for my keys only to realize they were in the car, along with my phone, which meant no way to reach the friend we just left or 911. A powerful sensation of utter helplessness washed over me as I scanned the parking lot - full of cars, but void of people. As I contemplated the dilemma of not being able to find help without leaving the car but not wanting to leave the babe alone in the locked car to seek help, four men entered the lot.
I called out, interrupting their midday stroll, and as they sensed the urgency of the situation they sprang into action. Within minutes, they evaluated the situation thoroughly, ruled out the possibility of entering the car without damage, and agreed the only expedient solution was to break a window. Using a baseball bat left over from his son's little league practice, one man broke a window and unlocked the door, allowing me to retrieve the babe.
I will, of course, never again close a car door without keys in my hand, but the larger lesson of the day was the ease of asking for help. When circumstances are dire, the plea comes readily, but we shouldn't need an emergency to reach out. How many times have you made a problem worse by stalling as you tried to devise a solution that someone else could have offered more quickly? How many disasters could you have averted - or at least mitigated - by allowing someone else to assist? Is there some conflict or challenge in your life you could resolve by asking for help today?
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