November Through the iPhone
November managed to completely sneak by me. Too fast to photograph, apparently. At least too fast to photograph well.
The few that I do have tell a story that I’m not excited to narrate.
Our theme for November was help.
(Go ahead. Break into song. I’ll wait.)
Some of us are too big to need help with things we used to need help with. Big enough, even, to want to help with new things – like shopping and cooking.
Circumstances are teaching our family how to help each other in new ways. Sometimes the three of us spend a day in the next state to help me explore new opportunities in writing/editing. Sometimes I throw down challenges that I, myself, am ill-equipped to complete and I end up texting my mom pictures of the sewing machine I dug out of the closet with questions like, “Why is it doing this?” and “What does this dial do?”
Our first holiday season without my dad has seen more changes than I anticipated, but we pull it together to help. (It’s shameful that I’m 30 and have never before contributed a single dish to a Thanksgiving meal, I know. In my defense, I’ve never been asked and the meals have never been wanting.)
Friends help. Church members help. We reach out to help others in new ways.
It’s all very heartwarming and happy in pictures, but it’s revelatory in my soul, and I add it to the list of things my toddler is teaching me. Because, as Husband will readily attest, I am terrible at asking for help.
Not because I don’t think I need help. I need so much help. In so many ways.
I don’t like to ask for help because I don’t like to bother people, and there’s a quiet logic that constantly whispers to me that if someone wants to help, he will help. It’s nothing but physical labor and To Do lists in my mind, but then I watch my son.
He asks for help whenever he wants it without the slightest concern for how it may inconvenience someone. He holds his arms up, or points and grunts, or brings a malfunctioning (at least to his mind) object to the nearest person. Usually, people are more than happy to help, and oftentimes we’re even honored or amused to push a button or retrieve a soccer ball.
When he wants to try something, to help with what we’re doing, he doesn’t hesitate. He follows. He persists. He drives his spatula into the pot, and grabs things off of shelves to put in his mini shopping cart. He pushes the closet door closed, or drops a sock into the laundry basket, and beams at me, aptly satisfied with a job well done.
Because everybody needs help sometimes. We know that. Most of us will admit that in word, if not also in practice.
But I think everyone needs to help sometimes too.
I think everyone needs to feel useful, and even when we don’t want to, everyone needs to know the satisfaction of shouldering up beside a friend and leaning in to ease someone else’s burden. There’s something deeply satisfying about it, even if only when it’s over, like blowing a hot ember into a flame.
Like we were made for family, for partnerships, for community, and taking the time – whether it’s hours or days – to step beyond ourselves forces aside the ultra-ego that consumerism feeds us every day, and reminds us who we really are.
Which couldn’t come at a better time because, you know – Christmas.
Christmas is all about help, and it’s a season when most of us remember to help others.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last couple days, about how to help others this season. There’s no shortage of opportunities, and actually the hard part is picking one, so I can actually contribute. So I thought I’d put to to you guys.