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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Magic Words: Please & Thank You

This morning I watched this TED talk and I knew I had to write about my experience with learning to ask. Back in the mid nineties I was moving from apartment to apartment in the same complex. For some reason I decided this would be an easy move. I didn't rent a truck. I only had a few boxes. I didn't need any help, thank you very much. I profoundly underestimated the magnitude of this task.

When I realized I was in over my head, I did what I do. I talked about it publicly. Several people came up to me and offered to help. I thanked them. One guy in particular (who seemed to know who he was dealing with) pressed his phone number in my hand and said, "I would consider it an HONOR to get to help you move. It is not an imposition. I WANT to help you." I took his number and promised I'd call him. I lied. I went back to my apartment and sat in the middle of the floor and cried as I stuffed things in trash bags to lug across the parking lot. At one point I was carrying a mattress on my back across the parking lot at three in the morning when the wind caught it and I wound up on my back, on the mattress in the parking lot and I was dangerously close to a psychotic break. I called a mentor of mine and admitted that it wasn't that I didn't want help, the problem was that I couldn't make myself ask. Something was stuck inside and it wouldn't allow the words out.

Today, I know what was blocking me: my pride.

My spiritual adviser said, "Don't you realize that it's just as selfish to deny someone they joy of being of service as it is to see an opportunity to help and ignore it?" I'd never really thought of it that way. I'd always thought of needing help as something shameful but in my heart I always envied those people who didn't seem to have to ask, the girls who could say "I'm cold!" and guys couldn't get their letter jackets off fast enough to fix it. So I carried my own boxes, opened my own door, changed my own tires and built my own little fortress where I prayed...

Now before I go any further, please know that I am not advocating whiny helplessness. We all know people who expect life to cut their meat and peel their orange for them. Those people are annoying. You guys are not those annoying people. You guys are my people. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

I prayed a lot but I prayed for God to "fix it" and God sent boats and helicopters while I sent them away and watched the flood waters rising. Then one day something happened. One day I revised my plan and I revised my prayer. One day I said, "God, I don't know what to do, but I believe that you know what I need. You know where I am. I need your help. Please." Then the help came disguised as work and I said, "thank you." Sometimes the help comes disguised as something I'd love to do, sometimes it comes as something I'm afraid to do, and sometimes it comes as something I'm not sure I can do but it's help all the same.

I am not alone. I am not designed to do it all myself. I need and want help. This is the plan.

Just today I posted my special deals for Small Business Saturday. I'm sure there are some who are tired of seeing us plug our business on Facebook and I'm really okay if they hide me from their news feed or completely nuke me from their friends list but I'm not going to stop asking for help and I'm not going to stop offering to help. I believe that's what we're supposed to do. Thanks to all of you who let me know I'm not alone. Thanks to all who share my stuff and thanks to those who remind me that it's okay to ask for what you need. Peace, love and "BUY LOCAL!"

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