Last week I set out to drive my newly minted kindergardener to her second day of school. Within a block of our house, I noted two things.
First I heard the car behind us making a strange noise. Maybe they were dragging their muffler or something. Second I noticed that the kids who take the school bus from the stop closest to us were still outside – the bus schedule was still getting worked out.
A block later that car was no longer behind us, but the noise was still there. I had a green light so I took it, but then pulled over.
My rear driver’s side tire was flat. Completely flat. Like, driving on the rim, flapping rubber flat. Ug!
I made a UTurn, made the light back, and pulled over almost at the bus stop. I really couldn’t drive another 20 feet. We jumped out of the car. The bus pulled up and the kids were getting on.
I yelled across the street, “hold the bus!” A mom told the driver another kid was coming, but he wanted to leave. As we ran across the street, that mom got on the bus. My rattled six year old got on and made it to school.
But that was the easy part of the day.
I was putting out a big fire that week, or trying to, anyway. Apparently the calls I urgently needed to make were going to be made while sitting outside waiting for AAA. And when the guy got there, I was on the phone but able to thank him for patching and pumping up my tire. (He removed a staple that was the culprit.)
So I finished my calls and made it to my urgent meeting on time. One hurdle cleared. On to the next part of the fire, which was already waiting. But when I got to my car in the parking lot…it had a flat tire!!
And before I tell you what happened next, I want to ask you these questions:
HAVE YOU EVER HAD “ONE OF THOSE DAYS”? HAS THAT “DAY” EVER LASTED A WEEK OR A MONTH OR A YEAR OR MORE? WERE YOU UNBELIEVABLY STRONG AS THINGS GOT HARDER AND HARDER?
The flat tires were bumps in my already beyond overwhelming week. A week that made flat tires seem like child’s play. A week that included a broken range, final pieces of launching a book, a mouse in the kitchen, a vomiting child… and other things that I’ve forgotten because I don’t have the energy to remember them.
And with all that going on, I am extremely grateful to that mom who held the bus when I called out for help. Extremely grateful to my cousin who agreed to wait for AAA (the second time around) when I asked if he could, extremely grateful to an amazing friend who picked up my kids and loaned me a car when I asked if I could use it until I have a moment to get a new tire, extremely grateful to the reiki therapist who I asked for a last minute appointment and she could squeeze me in… And the list goes on.
But did you notice that each item on that gratitude list started with me asking? This week’s Torah portion contains one of my favorite lines. We’re actually in a recap of events right now, so this isn’t even the first telling, but an important reminder.
Did you know that the whole story of the Exodus from Egypt didn’t begin with Moses talking to Pharaoh? It didn’t begin with God sending Moses to lead the Israelites. It started with the Israelites being so fed up and beyond the straw that broke the camel’s back that they cried out to God asking for help. And *that* was the beginning of getting help.
When faced with challenging situations, we often rise to the occasion. And when the challenges increase, we do more. And more. And more. Because that’s how strong we are. But maybe the real strength comes in asking for help. Sometimes we can get so caught up in staying afloat that we forget to ask for a life saver – or a spare tire, as the case may be.
In AA you have to say your name and that you’re an alcoholic. Without acknowledging the problem, you can’t fix it. Whether we choose to ask for help from God or friends, neighbors, and family, recognizing a struggle and asking for help is the first step toward something better.
Don’t forget to ask for help.