Rescued. Do you need to be rescued? As men, we read that question and immediately think of others who need to be rescued, but not ourselves. I can remember numerous times where I have aided in the rescue of others. But it is much harder to remember the times I have been rescued.
I remember being rescued my senior year of high school.
I was sucker-punched by another student and suffered a broken nose. I decided to go to school the next day despite my mother’s protest. 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 that 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 I 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 a single thing 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, 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. 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 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 large imposing figure and walked with me to the next class. This continued through the day until the situation was resolved. (That’s a story for another day).
Looking back, I can identify the reasons 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 own rescue.
But I still find it difficult to ask for rescue. I still have difficulty recognizing my need for rescue; I still encounter difficulty in correctly assessing what I can and cannot do in the midst of my troubles. So, today I am reminding myself of some truths that I know but easily forget.
Why men are 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. That 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, and that can be daunting because it requires that you 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 sort of 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, 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 own 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. We prefer to plan, execute, and rescue others. We envision ourselves as the Marines coming to the rescue of others.
Marines are tough. Yet, they recognize the fact that they will sometimes need to be rescued. Their mantra of “no man left behind” acknowledges that even the manliest man will sometimes need to be rescued.
Self assessment. How do we know we need to be rescued?
There are four signs that we are in need of a rescue.
1. We are stagnant. We are in a rut. We are unwilling or unable to change our routine. And we hate our present routine. We say we want things to change, but we 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 over medicate 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.
In the midst of this, we can be tempted to give in to despair, to become ungrateful and impatient.
We can go to two extremes in our thinking. Thinking 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 own rescue.
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. 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 rescue.
Today, I choose to admit I need help. Will you join me in letting someone else know you need help?