A couple of weeks ago I really needed help. And while it was hardly a “do or die” affair, my need did create an unhealthy and uncomfortable number of sleepless nights and restless days. From waking up mid-night, to an increased heart-rate and shortness of breath, I simply knew it was time to take action: to free myself of this burden, to liberate myself, to seek help.
You see, although I’ve always been good at giving, I’ve never really been conversant with receiving – the grace and art of asking for help. And so, in the face of my need, I was now further pressured with the supposed shame of having to ask someone to bail me out. There were a handful of people who were capable of helping, that I knew, but would they be willing to help too?
There was no knowing without trying. Remembering my dear Pastor Mo’s wise words from our conversation a few nights prior, I decided to simply humble myself and contact an old and half-absent friend:
A: Hey, I think I might need your help.
B: Hey, sure. How may I help? (Happy to).
A: I’m embarrassed to say this but I need someone money. It’s neither much nor little, it’s just money I don’t have right now. Also, I can’t tell you when you’ll get it back. It will be as soon as I have it.
B: Sure, just send your details and I’ll do it right away.
A: Huh? Won’t you even ask how much I need first?
B: Okay. How much is it? But it doesn’t matter..
Whatever it was, he would give it. And sure enough, he did.
He was in a position to help a friend, and so – almost naturally – he just did.
I put my phone aside and started crying profusely. I cried not because my need had finally been met, but because there were just so many lessons in this. You see, this was someone I had been friends with since I was 14 years old; doing the maths (I’m turning 30 in a few days) that’s just about 16 years. This was someone I had known and loved and cared for, but never felt I was half as important to. As someone who’s gifted in maintaining relationships and keeping in touch, I just felt that – if someone loved me – they would put in just as much effort into keeping a relationship alive as me; which included calling, texting, emailing, meeting-up. If not constantly, at least somewhat regularly. But seeing as most of the friendship-maintaining had been somewhat one-sided, I felt that although he had at numerous times stated how important a friend I was to him, it wasn’t truly honest or heart-felt. In my mind, there was but one way to show love and appreciation: my way. And thus, statements such as “If ever you need anything, I’ll be there for you” have always been laughed at and laughed off, “Why would I come to you? If ever I need anything, I’ll go to people who actually care about me.”
But here I was, humbled by my own ignorance and ashamed of my own lack of understanding. The most natural thing for me to do when thinking of someone was to let them know they were thought of. I would pick up my phone, I would call, I would text – just to let them know they were thought of. After all, what was the point of thinking of someone without them knowing? What was the point of loving without showing? That was my way, my natural way. And thus, I typically react with a raised eyebrow or respond with cynicism when someone told, “Oh, and I just thought of you recently.” Sure you did..
And while I do believe love must be expressed, I did have to acknowledge that I hadn’t given this friend enough credit. All these years, looking at him, judging him. As a matter of fact, there had been a handful of people, I realized, I had gravely misjudged. Perhaps, just because some friends didn’t keep in touch regularly didn’t mean they didn’t appreciate our friendship as much after all? People were different, I had to admit.
Upon this revelation, I called up another half-absent friend of mine to set-up a lunch-date. We ate, we joked, we laughed, and we spoke. I needed to apologize.
Yinka, thank you for this. Thank you for actually apologizing. That’s what I was trying to explain to you the other day, people are different. That I don’t talk to you all the time doesn’t mean that I don’t care. And you saying we aren’t friends or you wouldn’t come to me if you needed something because you don’t think you can rely on me, that really hurt me. I don’t know if you could tell, but I was really hurt. I was trying to play it cool but I was really hurt. You judged me based on your impression of me. And impression wrong and based on no facts. You said you don’t trust me, although you’ve never actually tried it. You judged that I wouldn’t be there if you needed help, although you’ve never actually asked for help. But I’m here. I’m a loyal friend. People are different. I’m not always going to call or text when I think of you, but that doesn’t mean I never think of you. I’m just not like you. But I’m glad you see this now. That people are different. And thank you for coming back to say this. Some people would have just kept quiet. I was really hurt when you said that last time. so I am really glad you’ve come back to tell me this now; that you know better. I’m really happy. Thank you
And so we carried on, joked on, and moved on.
This experience signified an interesting learning curve; one that has been continuously buttressed in my studying and teaching too: being available, being useful.
Humble enough to seek help.
Gracious enough to extend help when asked.
Sensitive enough to identify and meet others’ needs.
Conscious enough to understand your blessings are not actually for or about you.
Just as it is with gifts and talents, we have all been blessed with differing resources and capabilities. We’ve all been equipped with blessings that might seem mundane to self but would mean the world and make all the difference to someone else: time, attention, finances, words of encouragement, love.
Just as spiritual gifts have been given for the edification of the Body of Christ, your capabilities and skills have been given for the edification of the world. Make yourself available, be useful. Let your skills work both for you and others. Don’t let them be dormant. What use is salt that has lost its flavour?
It’s been eight months since I blogged last and I’ve had so many beautiful stories, experiences, lessons and testimonies I thought to share – I thought of but never did.
Just recently I thought back to the days I freely shared and the sheer amount of support I received both on this blog and via email- individuals sharing their stories, asking questions, sharing how liberated they felt through my writing.
And now I’m thinking of just how selfish and reckless it has been of me to stop sharing, to stop writing. If truly I believed my writing was a gift that could touch and bless others, who then was I to withhold it; to allow the cares of this life or the needs of today to distract me? I’ve decided to write and share again: to be available and useful again beyond my home, church, immediate community and city. I want to encourage you to do the same: go back to your capabilities and figure out ways to bless even more people with them; freely and humbly, understanding that just as much as you depend on others, others depend on you.
I’ve joined Instagram now and encourage you to follow me on there too (@DeMorrieaux). Also, I’d love to hear from you: what is it you would like me to write about? What thoughts have been “plaguing” you? I think I’ll probably be much more disciplined in and committed to writing regularly again if I know that my write-ups are true responses to actual questions and/or needs.