Help in Unexpected Ways
Several years ago I attended a team-building retreat. During one of the activities, we – the participants – were blindfolded and placed inside a maze. We knew it was a maze. They told us it was a maze, so it wasn’t a secret. The activity leader gave us the instructions or “rules” for the activity, and indicated that there was a way out. “But,” he said, “If at any time you ever need help, raise your hand.”
Into the maze we all ventured. There was a lot of talking and chattering at first, as we all laughed and tried to help each other. Always, there was the leader’s voice, “if at any time you need any help, just raise your hand.”
I was confident I could find my way out. Since I knew I was at the outer edge of the maze, I decided to hold onto the rope “wall” with my right hand and trace my way all the way around until I found the exit. I figured it couldn’t be that difficult.
Gradually, the laughing quieted. The talking and chatter lessened. I grew a bit more sober as I realized that people I had been relying on and receiving help from were no longer there. Somehow, they had found the exit, and I had not.
My competitive side came out a little, making me feel more determined than ever to find the exit. I continued to ignore the voice regularly saying, “If at any time you need any help, raise your hand.”
If At Any Time You Need Any Help…
Finally, I sensed I was one of the last people in the maze. Despite years of reading mystery novels and solving puzzles, I could not find my way out of the maze. Again I heard the voice, “If at any time you need help, raise your hand.” Frustrated, I stopped, shoulders slumped, and begrudgingly raised my hand.
Immediately, the leader was at my side. He lifted the blindfold off my eyes, and led me to the outer wall of the maze, where he invited me to climb under the rope to exit.
There never was an exit.
Initially I felt a little angry, like I had been tricked. When the leader saw that cloud cross over my face, he smiled gently, and waited for me to understand.
Then I saw. It never was about solving the problem; it was always about asking for help. “If at any time you need any help, just raise your hand.” I had spent the last 30 minutes or so ignoring the solution simply because I was too proud to ask for help for something I could solve on my own.
“…we might feel too embarrassed to ask for help when we doubt. Perhaps we are one to whom others have looked for strength, and now we need help. The Lord teaches us, ‘Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63). We must act, expecting that the Lord will fulfill His promise to lift us … if we draw near unto Him. The adversary, however, will try to convince us that we have never felt the influence of the Spirit and that it will be easier just to stop trying.” (2015–October:55, Vern P. Stanfill, “Choose the Light.“)
Help Will Come to Those Who Ask
Yes, of course it makes sense that my own pride would also open the door for some nasty nerdbuckets to tell me that I didn’t need help. And not only did not need it, but that it wouldn’t come even if I did ask for it, despite the constant repeating reminder from the sidelines, “If at any time you need any help, just raise your hand.”
The help always does though. That reminds me of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Professor Dumbledore tells Harry, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”
Help does always, always come. You but need ask. And then look for it to come in unexpected ways.