When I die, I'd like to ask God if He would introduce me to Eliza Partridge Lyman. A woman who lived over 150 years ago, who faithfully kept a journal of her trek through an often-difficult life. Her words touch my soul.
She was a pioneer, and in 1846 she migrated thousands of miles west (and on foot) from Nauvoo, Illinois. She gave birth to a baby boy in the back of a Conestoga wagon. Six months later she would bury that sweet babe in the fields beside her new log house.
She wrote the following in her journal: "The baby is dead and I mourn his loss. We have done the best we knew how for him, but nothing has done any good; he continued to fail from the time we was taken sick. My sister Caroline and I sat up every night with him and tried to save him from death, for we could not bear to part with him, but we were powerless...I still have friends who are dear to me. If I had not I should wish to bid this world farewell, for it is full of disappointments and sorrow."
This dear woman, Eliza, was sustained by the love of caring friends. She found strength in their compassion.
Another six months passed before Eliza wrote an entry in her journal that is especially tender to me: "Elvira's babe died. I received an invitation to come and spend the day with her which I accepted. Visited with her the grave of her child."
There are two things in that passage that I find most profound: 1.) Eliza was able to reciprocate the friendship and support that she had received when she lost her baby, and help another woman who was dealing with similar grief, and 2.) The other woman, Elvira, asked Eliza to come and spend the day with her during her time of pain. Elvira asked Eliza for help.
Why, in this wondrous, current time, is that so hard for us to do? Why is it hard for women to ask for help?
I have had a "bumpy" month. It has been filled with anxiety and heartache. I have laid awake all night--worrying just for the sake of worrying, dwelling on things that are beyond my control--and have fought to make it through the hours and minutes of the most bleak and monotonous of days. I have sobbed at my kitchen table; I have prayed my heart out for help.
I remember the night the proverbial light bulb popped above my head and I thought of Eliza and Elvira and I realized I needed help. But more than that, I realized I could ask for it. It was okay to ask for it. The house was quiet, the dishwasher was humming, and the living room was dark. I reached for my phone, took a deep breath, and sent a text message to a small group of friends.
Will you pray for me?, I asked.
The response was overwhelming and incredible. It set into motion the course I needed to take to feel like myself again. The love I felt from my friends filled the room, and peace--like a soft, warm blanket--settled on my shoulders. For the first time in days, I felt that all would be well.
That is exactly what we are here for, as women and sisters in this world of "ups and downs." We're here to pick each other up and dust each other off. We're here to help each other, to encourage each other, to comfort each other, to pray for each other. We can't endure all things without each other.
And so I give you permission to ask for help, just as I gave myself permission to ask for help. I know it's hard. I know it's uncomfortable. I know it's scary. But I also know that asking for help doesn't make you weak, it makes you brave. It doesn't make you incapable, it makes you exalted. Asking for help isn't embarrassing or shameful, it's freeing. It's healing. It doesn't make you less, it makes you more. More loved. More human. More hopeful. More whole.
More able to conquer the world.
Just as you were born to do.