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Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Yesterday my internet went down, just as my youngest son was about to finish an online school presentation during the first period of the day. Frustrated, I followed all the steps I knew of to fix a problem on our end. I rebooted the modem and the wireless router. Nothing worked.

"Oh well!" I thought. "It must be something more widespread than our house." This happens once in a while. We just have to wait for it to come back on. Three hours later it still wasn't running. I used my cell phone to look online - websites and social media pages - to see if there was any clue about what the issue would be. Nothing. I thought about messaging others to see if they were having issues. If they were, at least we could commiserate. I thought about whining on social media about how hard our life was.

Then it dawned on me. If everyone else was responding to the issue in the exact same way I was, the company wouldn't even know there was an issue. On top of that, if it isn't a broader issue - if it is only related to our house - they will never know if I never let them know! No amount of anger or frustration would help. I had to communicate. I had to make a call.

So I reached out to my internet company. Tech support first walked me through some steps to see if it was something I could take care of. Some of those steps I had already tried, but I tried them again. Other steps were new. I patiently and hopefully tried them as well. It took some time, but each time things didn't work, we successfully eliminated one of the potential issues from the things that could have been causing the problem.

With their help, we determined that the issue wasn't something in my home or with my equipment. They were then able to work on the things outside my home that may have been causing the issue. It took some time, but within a couple of hours, our internet was back on. How long it would have been if I'd never called? How much frustration would have built up in me and how much emotional energy would I have expended waiting for someone to solve a problem they didn't know existed?!!

Life is often like this - at home, at work, in church communities. We have an issue or concern and we want it to get fixed. But rather than kindly and patiently pointing out the issue to one who can do something about it, we keep it to ourselves. We think things like, "If I have this issue, others must have it too so it will just get dealt with." Or we talk to our peers and create a frustrated circle of coworkers before our boss even knows there is an issue. Or we sit at home lonely expecting that someone from the church will just know that we need someone to talk to. All the while our frustration grows. Our anger gets fed. Our emotional energy gets spent.

I want to encourage you if you have a need - a way in which your friends, your family, your church community could come around you during this time, speak up! Dial down the frustration that comes from expectations that are unmet because they haven't been communicated. Reach out to someone who could appropriately respond to your needs.

As you do that, keep these things in mind:

  • Just as with my call to tech support, the first step should be discerning if there is something you can do to help alleviate the issues. It is possible that before the weight of my issues gets put onto someone else that I need to take good first steps to see if things can be resolved or improved.

Here's another example from my own life. I sometimes have times where I struggle to sleep - falling asleep or staying asleep. That struggle increases significantly when I sleep with my cell phone plugged in beside my bed. Whether it's because I actually check the phone or just because my subconscious knows that the potential stimulation is right there, I don't sleep properly. Now, when I struggle to sleep I could call my doctor. I could pursue sleep therapy or something. But if I reached out for help, the best first help I should get would be for them to challenge me to move my phone to another space in my house overnight so that it's not distracting my sleep. The first help we often need is to be reminded and encouraged towards what we, personally, can and should do to have a positive impact in our area of need.

  • If/when it is determined that something beyond what is in my control is needed, the person you reach out to is then invited to consider if they can be the one to fulfill the need - to meet that expectation. Sometimes they will be able to. Other times they will need to point you to another who can meet that need or help you find someone who can meet that need.
  • Once an agreed-upon expectation regarding the role of another to help you on your journey is in place, you continue to cooperate with them to maintain that relationship.

We all have needs. In this time of increased isolation, those needs may be increased and they may be less visible. Self-care is a wonderful and necessary thing, but sometimes you just need to call someone who may be in a position to walk alongside you. Someone who can help you think about other self-care options. Someone who may be able to respond to needs that are beyond your self-care. Someone who may be able to point you in the direction of the help you need.

But it all starts by reaching out, by communicating that you need help. Make a call!

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

-James Taylor