My boys are rearranging their rooms.
And it is quite the process. My younger son needs to empty a drawer of Legos, before my older son can move his shirts into that same drawer. And until my older son transfers those shirts from their current location my youngest isn’t sure where to put the Legos. This means piles in doorways and on floors, rearranging this and shuffling that. It means taking turns, communicating, working together, asking for help. I know when it’s complete; both boys will have better space and be better able to access their things. But for now, it’s a bit of a dance. And a bit of a mess. And they need each other to make the transition happen.
The same holds true for my writing. A friend asked me for advice on her book proposal, which prompted me to fix some things I really needed to address on my current proposal. Another friend asked me to read some chapters of her novel. By editing her piece, it helped me edit something I’m working on. Reviewing each other’s work is messy. It means asking for help, being vulnerable, being brave enough to tell a friend something needs to change, taking time away from our own work to help someone else’s. But as I scan through comments from trusted advisors I feel my work getting better. Together, we bounce ideas back and forth and all of the writing improves. It’s not a one plus one equals two, but more of a one plus one equals three of five or eight.
What could you use some help with today? Moving into a new place? Discernment over a big decision? Motivation to get going? Another set of eyes on a proposal or purchase? We need each other. Yes, sometimes it’s messy. We don’t always know where to put our stuff—how to lay out our problems, excitement, tensions, hopes, or worries. It’s sometimes awkward to invite those around us to do the same. But when we link arms, we end up better, more complete. God gave us family, friends, neighbors, classmates, teammates, co-workers, and gals in our book clubs. Somewhere in all those people there are a few special folks who will understand, not judge, and grow us.
Sure. It’s hard. As an introvert, my default is to stay in my shell. I also don’t like to burden others. Maybe you gain great satisfaction in doing things by yourself. But are we trying too hard to do everything alone? On our side of the screen? In the privacy of our homes? Because that’s not how God designed things to work.
When God created the first person, Adam, He decided right away, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2).
When Naomi’s husband and sons died, she decided to travel to her homeland in hopes of food and shelter. This was a dangerous trip for a woman to undertake alone. But Naomi didn’t have to. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, journeyed with her saying, “Wherever you go, I’ll go”(Ruth 1).
David and Jonathan loved each other more than they loved themselves. They made a pact. Without Jonathan David would have been killed by King Saul and never have taken the throne (1 Samuel 18).
As King David’s son, King Solomon, went on to write in the book of Ecclesiastes: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. Why don’t we stand together? Strong in who Jesus made us to be, ready and able to help each other, reach out, keep each other from falling?
It’s important to emphasize this sharing and trusting has to be with a select few. My boys shouldn’t pile their journals, guitars, or drawings in the middle of someone else’s hallway. That’s too personal. It places special things to them at risk of being mistreated. I can’t throw my writing or dreams out there for everyone to evaluate. I could get incorrect feedback, be discouraged, or led down the wrong path if I tossed these precious pieces of me out into the stratosphere. But when we find a few friends, colleagues, or mentors we can trust, their feedback and assistance can help us end up stronger and more effective than if we tried to wing it on our own.
God can use a writer friend’s advice to magnify the impact of my manuscript. God can use one of my son’s willingness to help the other carry a heavy crate making both of their rooms homier. God can use one neighbor to cook you a meal when you’re recovering from surgery and then use you to give their child a ride to Lacrosse when they have to work late. Everyone ends up better when we’re willing to offer genuine support to those who ask AND ask for help from those we trust.
Where can you reach out today? To help someone else or ask for help? Invite someone you trust to join you on a walk and ask their advice or a favor or to pray for you about that thing you’re grappling with. Make sure to ask them in return how you can help them in their current season. Then watch God move. In both of your lives. He makes us better together.
Laura L. Smith