Once upon a time there was a young boy who went to the park with his mama. He ran up to the playground and sped around it trying to find the way up to the slide. He moved to one side, and came to a quick stop.
He looked at the obstacle in front of him. Six stepping stools spaced out in a line, just calling him to cross to reach the big red slide.
He looked at his mom nervously, but she nodded her head, and called out encouragement. “Go on, one step at a time. You can do it!”
He took the first step, wobbled a bit, and stuck his arms out to catch his balance. His smile started slow, but soon those dimples winked out – first one, then the other.
“That’s right, just like that. Now try the next!”
He stepped wide to the next stool, hesitantly at first but then with increasing confidence as he crossed numbers three, four and five.
The last one was farther away than the ones that had come before. He looked at his mom with fear, and some tears in his eyes because he had made it this far only to get stuck.
“Would you like some help?”
She reached out with her hand, and the young boy grabbed ahold as he took that last lunging leap from five to six, and then landed on the platform that led to the slide. He turned and looked at how far he’d come, raised his small arms up in the air, and shouted –
“I did it!”
Then he turned on his heel and ran to the slide.
Now some people may have thought that HE didn’t really do it himself, since he had to have help for that last big step. After all, if you can’t do it yourself, did you really do it at all?
His mama, even, may have felt that way in her own life. That it was cheating to ask for help…that she couldn’t really claim the victory or the praise if she didn’t do every bit of the work all by herself.
But the young boy understood something that his mom needed to learn.
That we’re supposed to help each other.
That leaning on someone or grasping a hand that steadies your steps and pulls you up doesn’t diminish your accomplishments.
That asking for help or receiving it isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom.
After all, no man is an island, we’re not made to walk alone, and so on an so forth. As a matter of fact, we’re SUPPOSED to be in community with each other. We’re SUPPOSED to help each other. Being in need of help today, enables you to be a better helper tomorrow.
(And doing everything yourself may be a sign of pride rather than a symptom of perfectionism – but that’s probably a topic for a different day.)
And that little boy knew that it’s ok to rejoice when we accomplish something we didn’t think we could do.
It’s ok to feel triumph when we overcome something without focusing and obsessing on those moments of fear and uncertainty that made us stumble before reaching the end.
And after we’ve done it, after we’ve reached the goal or climbed the mountain or crossed the finish line, it’s ok to celebrate with others before starting again.