I recently met a sweet woman who shared with me some of her struggles. She lives each day in chronic pain, and as we talked, I sensed she felt very burdened. She didn’t have the physical strength to care for her children and run a household. In addition, she was single and had to work. My heart went out to my new friend, who was obviously overwhelmed and discouraged.
I asked if she had family nearby or if she had help from her neighbors or ward family. Sadly, she explained that many people had offered to assist her, but that she had refused their help. She thought it meant she was weak, or not being self-sufficient, if she accepted assistance from others, even though she needed it desperately.
Have you ever had such feelings? I have. I wonder if we might all, at some time, pray for help but then not want to accept it when assistance is offered by those around us. Have you, like me, ever answered, “No, I’m fine,” when someone wants to help?
Although these feelings might be natural, on closer inspection, we might see that this kind of response actually blocks out light and further blinds us spiritually. If I believe I can handle problems completely on my own, I will miss out on the light that comes through living Heavenly Father’s plan for His children—living as a family.
Refusing the help of those around us could be compared to my experience with cancer and fading vision. I had a life-threatening disease, and I would have been unwise to have refused the help of the doctors. If I had said, “No, I can handle it on my own. I don’t need your help,” where would I be now? I would be not only blind but dead. When we refuse the help of others, are we doing a similar thing spiritually?
I spoke once with a loved one who was going through some serious difficulties. I had been prompted to tell him that I was there for him if he needed a listening ear. Immediately, he went on the defensive and refused my offer. He stated emphatically that throughout his whole life, he hadn’t needed anyone’s help. When he had problems, he took them to the Lord, and that was all he needed to do.
He was on the right track, but I believe he was missing out on further light that was available. Taking our troubles to our Father is exactly what we should do, but that is not the end of the process. As President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The Lord does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others,” 47).
This is the design of our Father. We need each other. Of course, we need to do what we can for ourselves and not rely solely on the help of others, remaining dependent and helpless. But if Father in Heaven had wanted us to handle every trial on our own, without assistance from our brothers and sisters, He would have placed us each on our own planet. Although that may sound appealing at times, it is not the will of our Father that we cut ourselves off from the help of others.