The other week I had one of those weeks where if it was going to go wrong, it went wrong. I couldn’t wait for the week to be over, and said so today during a phone conversation with one of my best friends.
“Why didn’t you call me?” she asked. She lives a long way away so wouldn’t have been able to offer much in the way of practical help, but as she pointed out, I could have talked to her and that might have made me feel better. “It might have helped you regain some perspective and seen that it wasn’t such a bad week after all,” she said, and she’s absolutely right. There were many reasons why I didn’t phone her that week, but I think the biggest one was that I thought I had to sort things out on my own.
Our conversation made me realise that I’m not always very good at asking for help when things are going wrong. I feel that I should be capable and in control and able to fix the problem for myself - but sometimes this just isn’t possible. Sometimes, you need somebody else to help and what I learnt today during that phone call is that people are often delighted to be asked for help. Struggling on denies somebody else the pleasure of doing a good turn, and Christmas is one time in the year when the stress of planning the holidays could be alleviated by either doing a good turn yourself or allowing someone else to do one for you.
There are so many little jobs that could make someone’s day that bit easier if they were taken off their hands; trips to the Post Office or even just the post box, helping to put up decorations or taking in parcels when a neighbour is out to save a long trip to the sorting office. I wouldn’t hesitate to help someone out if they asked me and I bet you wouldn’t either, but I also imagine that like me, you’re not brilliant at asking for help for yourself.
Not a great one for keeping New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to suggest that we should have a Christmas one instead. I think we should resolve to ask for help if we need it, to allow other people to share their expertise and generosity in our lives, and to be aware that others are just like us and will struggle on before finally “admitting defeat” and asking for assistance. Acknowledging that you can’t do something on your own is not an admission of defeat. It allows others to share in what we are doing and often that makes the whole experience more enjoyable. They can see that that we’re not perfect, not always in control and capable and instead of turning them away, it draws them closer. You are giving them the gift of being able to give something to you, and that’s what I think Christmas spirit is all about.