Help! It’s a word some won’t say, but most should scream if it’s going to move them forward in life, and keep them alive, not just surviving, but thriving. I’ve never understood human nature, including my own, that would reject support it needs to be better. Sometimes our minds, poor mindsets, generational issues, societal boundaries, sickness or plain ol’ pride will literally talk our mouths out of opening up and asking for assistance. Cultural stigma regarding mental illness, addiction, personal and spiritual challenges, marital woes and the likes have plagued our community and will continue to do so if we stay silent about those things which are destroying us. I’ve learned in life that I’d much rather someone talk about me for getting help and getting better than talk about me for still hurting.
I think the famous song from the Color Purple was written for me, “God is Trying to Tell You Something”. Like a baby needs a bottle and like a teacher needs a pay raise, there are times in life where I have been expressly reminded that I needed help. In the last decade “help” and I have gone hand-in-hand. Over the years, I’ve been through a year and a half of gut-wrenching divorce counseling, a year of costly physical therapy for an arm with lymphedema, two years of painful physical therapy for a leg and back injury, and that’s just the specific help I want to tell you about. I’ve had to humble myself to ask people to drive me around, give me money, braid my hair, help me up the stairs, carry my purse, give me a job, give me money (I know I’ve already said that), hear my inner fears, let me cry on their shoulders, pray for me, let me vent, keep my secrets, keep me from acting less than lady like, and so on and so on and so on. I needed help! I’m so glad I got it.
I remember growing up. My parents were in, let’s just say, a financial pickle that was not pretty. They decided to seek a financial advisor, let her “up in their business” (as some in our community would say), trust her expertise and follow her tough-love advice to the letter in order to come out of debt. It was tough, but at the guidance of the advisor and through discipline they did it and were debt free. I remember growing up and my father taking Carl Budding lunchmeat sandwiches for lunch which only costs $1 for a pack of two, and driving an old, banana yellow Granada so that my mother and he could take care of their family and be a blessing to their extended family. They needed help for the sake of their peace of mind and financial legacy and they got it. I’m so glad they did.
I also remember growing up and experiencing the murder of my first love at the age of 17. We were no longer “going together” and had had a less than pleasant association in the months leading up to his death, but on the night he was murdered in 1989 we’d had a fabulous time with a group of friends at the local movie theater I happened to work for. We were all supposed to reconnect later that night. Our intent was to focus on our foundation of a friendship that somehow had been lost in the midst of teenage angst, immaturity and time. While traveling to meet them, a car literally ran a dear friend and me off the road. We were traumatized and decided to go back to my house. The next morning I woke to the news that my first love was dead. I was devastated, beyond devastation as I reflect back some 20+ years later. Thankfully, I was never suicidal, but the weight of grief felt stifling. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t want to function. I felt dizzy often and remember vividly sliding down the door of my house each day I returned home from school as I was saturated in tears of disbelief. One of the first things my mother did after all my spiritual support was in place was to take me straight to a psychologist. Why? I needed help. I’m so glad I got it and am able to use his death as an example of taking whatever steps necessary to preserve the life of those who remain.
The moral to this story is: The difference in where we are and where we can be is found in the help we have. No matter what we’re experiencing we all have LIFE to live and a purpose on earth that’s greater than our pain. God loves us enough to never leave or forsake us. There are always others waiting to join us on the journey to help and healing.