Do you need to be rescued? As men, we read that question and immediately think of others who need rescued, but not ourselves. I can remember numerous times when I aided in the rescue of others. But it is much harder to remember the times I have been rescued.
I remember being rescued during my senior year of high school.
I was sucker-punched by another student and suffered a broken nose. Despite my mother’s protest, I decided to go to school the next day. I knew I would have to face the bully again. I like to think that I was brave. But really, it was just prudent. I knew postponing the return to school would only delay the inevitable confrontation.
I gathered my courage and went to school. I attended a large high school and hoped to get lost in the mass of humanity.
Once on campus, word quickly spread that I would get jumped again by the same boy and his companions.
I will admit to being anxious. My stomach was in knots. I didn’t hear anything anyone said in my first class of the day.
I was in no position to rescue myself. I was 120 pounds (54.43 kilograms), soaking wet, and had no fighting skills, and the other boy rolled drunks for spending money. And he was bringing his friends.
After my first class, I stepped nervously out into the hallway. I was searching for the boy or his companions. Finally, I was resigned to my fate.
Much to my surprise, I was greeted by an old friend I hadn’t seen in about a year. Jerry was six foot four and had 240 pounds (108.86 kilograms) of solid muscle. He didn’t say why he was there. He just walked with me to the next class.
After the next class, I again scanned the hallway for my adversary and was greeted by another student I had not seen in months. Bruce was also a sizeable imposing figure and walked me to the next class. This continued throughout the day until the situation was resolved. (That’s a story for another day).
Looking back, I can identify why I was reluctant to ask for rescue. I can recognize the signs that I was desperately in need of rescue. I can see what I could and could not have done to aid in my recovery.
But I still find it challenging to ask for rescue. I still have difficulty recognizing my need for recovery; I still encounter difficulty correctly assessing what I can and cannot do amid my troubles. So, today I remind myself of some truths I know but easily forget.
Why are men reluctant to ask to be rescued?
Why do we, as men, find it difficult to ask to be rescued?
As little boys, we are taught that self-reliance is a virtue. When we are knocked down, we have to get up. Vulnerability is discouraged and seen as a sign of weakness.
Greg Levoy addresses our inbred reluctance, as men, to ask for help. “The rub is that you’ve got to be willing to ask for help, which can be daunting because it requires you to lower the drawbridge and admit that you need help. And this is especially difficult for anyone who runs their own ship, is in a leadership position, is self-employed, or happens to have been born a man. Because the vulnerability required to ask for help is generally bred out of us at a pretty early age.”
When little boys play, everyone wants to be the hero, the Rescuer, or the knight in shining armor. No one volunteers to play the hostage or damsel in distress. If a boy is forced to play hostage, he may have, through self-reliance, engineered his rescue before his comrades arrive.
As grown men, we prefer to be the one who saves others, and we do not like to see ourselves in need of being rescued. Instead, we want to plan, execute, and rescue others. We envision ourselves as the Marines coming to the rescue of others.
Marines are tough. Yet, they recognize that they will sometimes need to be rescued. Their mantra of “no man left behind” acknowledges that even the manliest man must sometimes be rescued.
Self-assessment: How do we know we need to be rescued?
There are four signs that we need a rescue.
1. We are stagnant. We are in a rut. We are unwilling or unable to change our routine. And we hate our current practice. So we say we want things to change but are reluctant to take meaningful action.
2. So, we isolate ourselves from others. We convince ourselves that everyone else’s life is perfect. That no one else would understand what we are going through. We hibernate, burying our hopes and dreams in an endless winter.
3. We overmedicate or numb ourselves to grief and joy. We binge Netflix and food. Self-control and emotional regulation disappear.
4. We overcompensate in attempting to rescue others. We may not be able to help ourselves, but we can vicariously experience rescue by aiding others.
Amidst this, we can be tempted to succumb to despair, to become ungrateful and impatient.
We can go to two extremes in our thinking. We think that our rescue is solely our responsibility. Or thinking there is nothing we can do to affect our deliverance. But the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Action Plan. What can we do when we need to be rescued?
We can recognize the things that are in our control.
We can act on what we can control.
We can reject passivity, perfectionism, and procrastination.
We can focus on improving our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health.
We can use what we have to survive until help comes.
We can be alert to danger and signs of rescue.
We can place ourselves where others can see we need help.
We can strategically call out for help.
We can acknowledge the things that are not in our control.
The timing of our rescue is often not in our control. If it were, it would have already happened.
The method of our rescue is often not in our control. Otherwise, we would have affected our recovery.
The identity of our Rescuer is often not in our control. Our Rescuer could be a close friend, a stranger, or even someone we perceive as an enemy. On the other hand, it could be the God of the universe who directly comes to our aid.
BENEFITS OF ASKING FOR HELP / RESCUE.
When we ask for help, it keeps us humble. It lets others know that there are times we all need rescue. That it is okay for them to ask for help as well. We can help others by acknowledging our own need for recovery.
Today, I choose to admit I need help. Will you join me in letting someone else know you need help?
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