“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.
“Help,” said the horse.
“When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy.
“When I have dared to show my weakness,” answered the horse.
Charlie Mackesy, in his exquisitely illustrated book The Boy, the Mole, The Fox, and the Horse, plunks us down, right in the middle of a quiet chat on a hillside between the boy and the horse. These two quiet statements, spoken so simply by the horse, pull us deep into the truth that there is strength in being vulnerable. That in our weakness, in our need to reach out toward others to receive help—and in the powerful humility of giving voice to that need—we find ourselves most strong. Most empowered. Most connected. Such a paradox, isn’t it?
How often, when we need help, do we think to ourselves, “I just need to suck it up and do it. I should be able to figure this out. I must succeed on my own. I have to hold back the darkness and be strong. I don’t want to burden someone else with my stuff.” We deny ourselves the gift that vulnerability brings us: connection with God and others.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
–Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)
Further, Genesis reminds us that it’s not good for man to be alone (2:18). We were created for relationship. Hardwired to live in community and connection with others, mutually giving and receiving help, just as we’re told in Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV).
In accepting our vulnerability and need for support, and in allowing ourselves to receive the help that is being offered, we are strengthened.
ACTION: Where do you need some help today? What keeps you from asking for that help from another? When you consider the words “vulnerability” and “strength” what emotions are stirred in you? For that thing you need help with, who will you ask?