Reaching the End of Yourself

In 1996, I was managing a warehouse in Georgia. My brother was hired to help with a large project, and worked with me for a week or so. During this time, we had to use the “old van” to run across town. It was the first one ever bought by the company and wasn’t exactly in pristine condition.

About ten miles from the warehouse, we blew a tire. On the interstate, in the middle of nowhere. The van had a spare tire and tire iron, but no jack to get it off the ground. We couldn’t change that tire. No cell phones then. No radio in that van. Stranded.

Between me, and my brother, MacGuyver would be intimidated by our problem solving skills. We have done so much, with so little, for so long that we are now, almost, capable of doing anything with nothing. Seriously. I love figuring out stuff and solving problems. I am that guy who times himself when he changes a tire. Yes, I really am.

So, here sits two borderline psychos, stranded, needing to change a tire, without any tools.

We went back and forth for about ten minutes, thinking of ways to solve that one. Nothing was going to fix this without potentially killing one of us. We ran out of ideas very fast. Then, I did the unthinkable. I asked for help.

We found a piece of white cardboard in the van and a black marker. I made a sign that simply said, “Need a Jack.” Then I stood behind the van, next to the flat, and faced traffic.

Within a minute, a nice lady with a tiny car pulled over and offered us her jack. It was, apparently, made from beer cans. I could have twisted it with my bare hands. It was not going to lift a 2500 series GMC cargo van. We thanked her for trying and she left. I went back to my sign. Moments later, someone in a work truck pulled over. He had a real jack. We were back on the road in five minutes.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson, that I almost never use. “It’s ok to ask for help.”

As men, we generally take pride in self sufficiency. We like solving problems. We want to be the hero. Most of us, including me, go a little crazy when we reach the end of ourselves. Asking for help feels like we have failed. It’s like surrendering. I have done all I can, and it isn’t good enough. Very difficult for a male ego to conceded defeat on any level.

That point, when we have reached the end of ourselves, isn’t always a bad place to be. Sometimes, it would be better to get there sooner. Like when our family is depending on us. When other people are at the mercy of my decisions. When their success is limited by mine.

Some folks are smarter. They can see a problem coming and prepare for it. Some prefer to complain and wallow in the pity of others. Some actually enjoy their misery, not being able to overcome various problems. Which kind, do you think, has a better life?

The bible say that we have not, because we ask not. There’s another spot that tells us to keep on asking until we get it. There’s even a story about an old widow who kept asking and bothering someone until he gave her what she wanted, just to shut her up. Persistence pays off. But we have to know what we want and be willing to ask for help when we need it. Then we have to keep pursuing it until we have it.

If you have read much of my stuff, you know my history proves that I wasn’t good at asking for help. I wasn’t very good at accepting it, either. But, at a certain point, I had to admit that I couldn’t go any farther. I had reached the end of myself. My skills and knowledge were not enough to save my family. I had to ask for help. Then, I had to accept it. Both were mental torture for me.

Guys, take a look at your world. What has you stuck? Where do you need help? Is your wife happy? Is she passionate about you? Are the bills getting paid? Is there something broken or stuck in your life? Honestly consider the condition of your life and letting someone help you do better.

There is a great resource at bestmarriage.com. It’s an open forum where you can tell your story and their counselors will help coach you through the things you are facing. My marriage wouldn’t have made it without those guys. I asked for lots of help in there. If you aren’t as happy with your life as you want to be, go check it out.

Personally, I need help getting this word out. I need to see more men become better husbands and fathers. I need to see that all this is making a difference. I also need to have more people click those book links on the right and help me do this site full time. If you haven’t taken the challenge, yet, do it today. Get the 21 Day Challenge book and get busy.

Hey. I asked.

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