by Lauren Madsen
“No, I’m fine.”
It has come from my own mouth time and time again, and from the mouths of so many people I know and love. We say it when we are going through something tough and someone asks us if we need anything. Many of us humans answer “no” even though a “yes” might just save us.
I’ve pondered a bit on why this is. Why we choose to suffer silently rather than admit there is something, or someone, that could help us pull through. I imagine some trials just feel too private, so we keep them to ourselves. Perhaps we don’t want to appear weak, needy, or incompetent. Perhaps we don’t want to be a burden on anyone else. Perhaps we asked for help in the past but didn’t receive it. Or perhaps we are too proud, believing we have to endure some things on our own. I wonder if sometimes it comes down to not actually knowing for ourselves what it is that we need.
It takes just a few minutes in the scriptures or in the words of ancient and modern prophets to see that a crucial part of our mortal experience is to take care of each other. As disciples of Christ we widely recognize and accept our responsibility to serve our fellow travelers on earth. We covenant to bear each other’s burdens and mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who need comfort (Mosiah 2:18-19). We promise to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with them who weep (Romans 12:15). Covenant keepers the world over stand at the ready for opportunities to serve God by serving our brothers and sisters (Mosiah 2:17). We seem to wholeheartedly embrace it when we are talking about what we are to do for other people, but not so much when we think of needing something ourselves.
I have tried suffering through trials on my own. Pretending everything was fine when my world was crumbling around me. What I learned is that it serves no one to live this way. Trying to endure alone keeps us disconnected. It keeps us from addressing our deepest needs and deprives those around us from the blessings of serving.
In his talk We Never Walk Alone, President Thomas S. Monson taught: “There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone.” He went on to say, “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask.”
What a powerful message that not only do we not have to endure or suffer anything alone but that we were never meant to! If we don’t know what it is that we need, who better to go to than the One who knows us best and loves us most?
The help we ask for can come from both sides of the veil. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained: “Not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day.” Sister Wendy Nelson encouraged, “Could you use a little more help in your life? If so, keep your covenants with more exactness than you ever have before! And then ask for angels (a.k.a. your ancestors and other loved ones) to help you with whatever you need.”
As we navigate the heartaches and struggles of earthly life, there will be times when we need a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a hand to hold, a comforting meal, or countless other things. There will also be times when we need something that only a heavenly being can give. In either case, we can feel confident that help is on the way when we choose to put aside our reasons for suffering alone and believe that asking for help, from those around us and from our Father in Heaven, is part of the plan. It is the way we can all work toward becoming a more loving, compassionate, and Christlike people.