No one is meant to walk in this world alone. From the moment we are born, we are dependent upon the grace of others. A baby cannot survive without the love and support of other human beings. We all hope that as our children grow in years, they become independent. We miss them as they go off to school, marry, move into their own homes…but leaving home and becoming adults is a healthy outgrowth of our hopes for them. And it’s what we, ourselves, strived for when we were younger.

Yet as we become “independent,” we should not delude ourselves into thinking that any one of us can truly thrive without the support of other people. Think about it for a moment. What do we eat? What clothes do we wear? How do we communicate? How do we travel? We are all the beneficiaries of a sophisticated ecosystem of a global and local community. 

Nowhere is this more important to realize than during challenging and vulnerable times in our lives. It could be we are faced with a health scare, an emotional scar, a professional hurdle or a relationship on the rocks. Asking for help from a friend, mentor or counselor is not a sign a weakness but a sign of strength.

Many years ago, an advisor of mine (the Rabbi’s) shared the following story that resonates still today. A group of teenage boys were walking through the forest with a guide. In front of them on the path in the woods, a large tree branch lay on the ground blocking their way forward. The guide told the group, “Let me see who can use all of his strength to move the tree.” One by one, the boys tried to lift the branch but to no avail. The tree was too heavy for anyone to budge. He turned to the young boys and said, “I asked you to use all of your strength to move the tree. In truth, no one did. On your own, the tree was too heavy. You forgot that you were not alone in this task. Together, if you would have helped each other, you could have easily moved the tree limb, removed the obstacle and lifted the burden.” 

Not a single one of us is designed or destined to transcend life’s challenges by ourselves. Here is the truth: When we reach out to a friend, a mentor, a professional, we are actually giving them an opportunity for renewed purpose and meaning. Think about it for a moment. When you are in a position to help and do, when you are able to make a difference in someone’s life, it gives you deep joy and satisfaction. So let yourself reach out. People are happy to help. 

God has sent us many messengers. People in our lives who are ready to share our burdens and transform them into blessings. Remember this classic story: 

A man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbor came drove by a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks. I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure He will save me.”

A short time later the police came by in a speedboat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks. I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure He will save me.”

Soon, a rescue helicopter hovered overhead, dropping a rope ladder and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks. I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure He will save me.”

The floodwaters continued to rise until they reached above the roof and the man, overwhelmed by the waters, drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood!”

“Yes, you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

No one is expected to walk alone! Here are five tools for help and healing to keep in mind: 

  1. Share your dreams: Don’t wait until a moment of crisis to search for help. Open up for a friend, deepen your relationship and share your dreams. You will be pleasantly surprised by how many people may serve as the wind beneath your wings. 
  2. Use your resources: There are people in your life to help lift a burden and ease the pain. Turning to them is a sign of strength and wisdom, not weakness. Whether a friend, relative or business colleague, people want to see you succeed in life.
  3. Be open: Initiating a conversation for help is not easy but the more direct you are with someone the more supportive that person can be. If you know you need help but don’t know what to ask for, be open to the help and guidance that they offer…and be ready to say “yes.” We, too, are a resource for you. Use the link here to send us your questions.
  4. Turn to God: As Isaiah writes (40:31): “Those who have faith in God, their strength will be renewed. They will grow wings like eagles, walk and not grow weary.” God is with you every step of the way. Use His strength and His messengers. 
  5. Never lose faith in yourself. God believes in you. With every breath you take, He is infusing new life and hope in you. Together, with His messengers, you will not only survive but thrive in the days to come. 

Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?