Tuesday, April 5, 2016
“The best advice I can give to anyone going through a rough patch is to never be afraid to ask for help.” ― Demi Lovato
Since I have been pretty much confined to my house (the bush of Africa is not a good place for wheelchairs and walkers), I have learned an awful lot about disability, adjustment, acceptance, and fighting to get better every day. So many simple, everyday tasks like turning on a fan, getting something from the refrigerator, or just going to the bathroom are either impossible or are difficult but doable with effort. As a guy raised on the old “John Wayne” kind of life style where you raise yourself up by your own bootstraps and do everything by yourself and for yourself, I have had a lot of adjusting to do. It is just hard for me to accept help and to believe that the people doing it actually want to do it. This is really silly since I have devoted my life to helping others and know what joy that brings me. It just makes no sense that I can’t understand how other people could feel the same way I do when I am helping others, but that’s the way it goes. Karen and John and all the staff will just about do anything for me—and that just kind of blows me away. When I try to do things for myself and fail because no one can do those things from a wheelchair or a walker, they get mad at me for not asking for help. I think I am not the only one who feels it demeans me to ask for help, but I am learning to ask. Trying to carry things when I need both hands for my wheelchair or walker has led to some silly accidents. Maybe this whole thing has been done just to teach me humility and to ask for help when I need it. How many of us suffer or fail just because we are too proud to ask for help? My guess is that it is a big number. It didn’t bother me in the hospital because I knew the nurses and doctors were paid to help me, but when my friend Daniel was at the hospital every day, arguing with them over every item on my bill (saved me thousands of dollars) and taking care of Karen while I was hospitalized—well there just are not words to describe how grateful and humble his caring made me. Then to take me to his home until I was able to climb the steps to the plane to come home, that’s just above and beyond friendship—it’s true Christian love. There were workers at the airport in Mwanza who treated me as if I was the most important person to land there in years and made sure I got to my car and got my luggage and customs things all done and dusted. I’m usually in a position to tip them for their help, but not this time and that didn’t change their eagerness to help me. Now why I could accept their help and have trouble asking Karen or John for help is just crazy, but I do it anyway. We once had a hand-cranked, all terrain wheelchair made for a young man with withered legs (see picture at the right). When we delivered it to him in his village, the first thing he said was, “Now I can help my family.” For him the wheelchair was not a curse but a blessing. He is now my inspiration for doing what I can for others but accepting that I need help and need to ask for it. I have come to believe that only fools fail because they couldn’t ask for help—and I have been one of those fools. We also fail to ask God for help when He is willing, waiting, and wanting to help us, but we must ask. Christ said, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11: 9-10) You’d think a bishop would know and understand this, but I am more than a little slow sometimes, especially when I need to ask for help, but I am changing. You can too. If you are needing any kind of help, you will find it on your knees asking God. All prayers are heard. All prayers are answered. Sometimes we don’t like the answers, but they are always there. Don’t be like me and fail to ask. Ask, seek, knock and be thankful that you are blessed when help arrives. I have asked God and my family to forgive me for my foolishness and pride. Maybe you need to ask forgiveness, too. I don’t know, but if you do, ask.