He said the same words I’ve heard hundreds of times, “Do you need any help out today?”
“No, I’m fine thanks.” Came my automatic reply as I tried to pick up our over-tired 2-year-old and get the attention of our day-dreaming almost-5.
Because, I don’t NEED help. I got this. I mean, I have no excuse to feel otherwise. I should be able to handle the life I have. I should be able to do things on my own. I should be able to wrangle the kids I chose to have. I should have all this in hand. And I shouldn’t be a burden on anyone else. I shouldn’t need help. That’s right. Yep, I got this.
“Actually, having help out would be amazing.” I whispered. “Because I never know what to do with the shopping cart when I have two little ones waiting in the car.”
His eyes were kind and he grew a smile as he spoke, “Wouldn’t it be great for you to have both hands free to walk with your kids? I’d really love to bring your groceries out for you.”
I’ve never done this before: used the grocery carry-out service. I always thought it was for people who really, really needed help. Like someone who is elderly. Or someone who is really physically limited. Or someone who really, really needs help. (Or someone who has a hoity-toity attitude and likes people doing menial tasks for them.) But not someone who shouldn’t need help. Not someone… like me.
Pride? Shame? Guilt? Not wanting to be a burden?
Yes. All of the above. I’m from a working class family. And, like Boxer the workhorse from Orwell’s Animal Farm, I esteem hard working people who pull their own weight.
And, let’s be totally honest, I don’t really need help.
But, as I stood there, it dawned on me: It’s not a need, it’s a want. I want help. I do! Not because I’m in terrible need. Not because of deficiency. Not because of entitlement. Not because of laziness. But because, help is… beautiful.
I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness: a solitary person, completely alone.
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (Ecclesiastes 4:7, 9-12 Msg)
Beautiful. Good. Right. That we would not be alone but together. A people of synergy. Partnering. Sharing. Helping. Protecting. Surviving. Thriving. What a Life!
Why do we place such a high value on being self-sufficient? Why do we pull away from the help of others? Of course there are problems when people are utterly dependent or co-dependent. But we have gone too far. Way too far. We have made the concept of having help a bad thing. To our shame. To our pain. To our demise.
We should be intertwined. Caring for each other. Giving and accepting help. Sharing the load. Sharing life.
I think I’m going to use the carry-out service a lot. Maybe every time. Because, as I walked hand in hand with both my kids, I saw how easily my “work” as a house-keeper gets in the way of me being a mother. Because the grocery clerk told us about his three little kids and his fatherly joy lifted my heart. Because he complimented my kids and encouraged their sweet attitudes. Because he said he looks forward to doing carry-outs to get to move his legs and be outdoors in the fresh air. And because he took the shopping cart back so I didn’t have to choose between leaving the kids unattended or inappropriately abandoning the cart!
Does it seem silly that I’m going on and on about this? I just didn’t anticipate that accepting help could bless us all so much.
Turns out that in trying to do life self-sufficiently, I robbed myself and my potential helpers of many blessings. Turns out I do need help after all.