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Asking for Help – Strength or Weakness?

In a story by Jack London entitled “To Start a Fire,” a lone man lost in the frozen wilderness is desperately trying to light a fire with the few remaining matches he has with him. He knows that if he fails, he will die. As nightfall comes and the winter chill becomes stronger, he seeks shelter under a tree and attempts to start a fire. One by one, each match is lost. One burns his fingers and is dropped; another is extinguished by a random fall of snow from the tree. Despite his desperate need for warmth, the woods and darkness are indifferent to his struggle. Eventually, he loses his last match and darkness ensues. The reader is left to understand that this man did not make it. During his attempt to survive, he never called out for help or expressed rage at the circumstances in which he finds himself. Instead, he went to his death doing everything in his own power to survive, but it wasn’t enough.

Sadly, I think this is how many people feel as they go through their lives: alone, struggling to survive in a world that feels as though it offers few resources and little hope of lighting the fire that would allow them to survive.

While it’s true that throughout our lives, each of us will be faced with times and circumstances that threaten to overwhelm our abilities to cope, what makes the difference is how we choose to handle these times.

While the tendency may be to keep our troubles to ourselves and suffer in silence, it’s much more effective to ask for help.

But why is this so difficult to do? Perhaps it’s because we fear that others will see us as weak, or that we will be shunned, or worse – hurt. The truth is that, in most instances, others are more than happy to help in whatever way they can. In fact, asking for help is often an opportunity to develop better relationships.

In addition, knowing when we need help and seeking it is a sign of maturity and strength.

So, the next time you feel like you’re lost in the wilderness and in need of a fire to help you survive, take a risk and simply ask for a light. You may be surprised at the response you get!