community

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.Frederick Buechner

Hey…it’s ok to ask for help.

You might not think it is, but it is.

I know, because I’ve been in situations when I knew that I could not, would not survive without help. Lots of it. From lots of people.  (Plus, many hands make light work, so if lots of people want to help, why not let them, so that everybody can do just a little bit instead of a few people struggling to do everything?)

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. With a husband in the hospital facing emergency surgery and a long recovery ahead, a full-time job and a 2 year old son, plus a little thing called major anxiety, it was not the time to put on a brave face and pretend I could manage it all on my own.

It was not easy at first. Of course I felt embarrassed and humbled by the generosity of people, some of whom I hardly knew. Our blood relatives were definitely a big support, but they were not always geographically close enough to help in any way other than praying. So, our circle was widened and friends and neighbors did what many people assume only biological family can and should do.

And as far as I can tell, not only did the helping make my life much more survivable, it gave joy to the people who helped me. If you helped me and this is not true for you, please don’t ever tell me. ( :

And it connected all of us with strong emotional ties: Me to my helpers, my family members to my helpers, my helpers to each other, my children to everyone. Not surprisingly, a community was born from this experience.

Since that time, I’ve become a big believer in the miracles that come from making ourselves vulnerable enough to rely on each other. And, what goes around certainly comes around. I always want to pitch in to help others because I know what a difference it made in my life.

Besides, asking for help could make you happier.

Asking for help boosts happiness, because not only does it make your life easier, it demonstrates that you have a social network that supports you. What’s more, asking for help is a sign of relationship and trust. As Benjamin Franklin recommended, “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor…

Also, by asking for help, you’re boosting other people’s happiness. Studies show that for happiness, providing support is just as important as getting support. Often, people like to help. I know I like to help. “Do good, feel good.”

Gretchen Ruben’s Happiness Project

And healthier. Even the Mayo Clinic asserts that friendships enrich your life and improve your health: Just knowing that friends are there for you can help you avoid unhealthy reactions to stressful situations.

Despite all of our good intentions, it can often be difficult to communicate exactly what kind of help is needed and coordinate the logistics of meeting those needs. Particularly because of the geographical distance between us and the hectic pace of our lives, this can be a big challenge.

Thankfully, some blessed soul has created a FREE online web site which makes building a supportive community much easier: Lotsa Helping Hands

I discovered this awesome resource last year when I wanted to bring some of my friend Kris’ family and friends together to help her out with meals and playdates. She was going to be primary caregiver for her father after a stroke, her husband had a new job in a city about 3 hours away and would be moving immediately to get started while Kris stayed back to sell the house, and she would be solo parenting her 4 year old daughter until all of these transitions were complete.

I told her that I thought this was the perfect storm for a breakdown, and that she was going to need some tangible help. (I know that I can be a bit pushy, but remember…I have been there!)

Kris didn’t feel very comfortable asking. But as a third person, I could see that people loved her and wanted to help. Through the Lotsa Helping Hands web site, I was able to set up Kris’ community in about 20 minutes. I could easily invite people to join us by email, and they could sign in to choose a task from a calendar of activities at a time that was convenient for them. The site provides key details to community members and sends out reminders about upcoming commitments. It’s amazing, and it makes volunteering to coordinate these types of efforts so much less daunting.

If we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole, we cannot embrace it alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.”
—Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness (adapted)

I can promise you that there are people who love you (maybe even people you hardly know) and want to be part of your community.

So…go ahead. Take a risk and just ask for help if you need it. It’ll be ok.