Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

I have said it many times, but it bears repeating – we could not have walked through the last year without people supporting us, encouraging us, and taking care of us each step of the way.

From our church family who provided for us by cleaning our house and cooking our meals for four months, to school families who took care of Henry after school on days that I had chemo, to friends who watched Henry on the long day of my surgery. Cards, texts, emails, and little gifts piled up.

Part of being brave is learning to let others care for you.

Our culture values independence. We pride ourselves on not needing others. The self-made woman, the DIYer, the loner, call it what you will, but living in community, while we give a verbal nod to it, is easier said than done – especially when you find yourself the one in need of help. Sometimes it seems like it is easier for me to give help than to receive it!

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that we can’t survive hard times alone. He says we are unprotected when we are alone, and I love the way The Message reads – “with a friend you can face the worst.”

This last year felt like the worst, but we learned how many friends we do have, and that together we can face difficult days.

The lesson here is two-fold. First, when we are in trouble, we need to find a friend to confide in, to lean on. That only happens when we make our needs known. If we choose to pretend that everything is fine and we don’t need help, we should not be surprised when we don’t receive it.

Second, we need to be actively looking for people who need our help. Our friends may be just as reluctant as we are to ask for help. We would never have asked for help for ourselves with meals, but a good friend stepped up and said she wanted to arrange meals for us, and did so for the entire four months that I took chemo. That was so over and above what we could have imagined, and what a blessing it was to us!

Are you facing trouble today? Allow yourself to lean on your friends. Do you have a friend facing tough times? Ask to help. Pick something specific and offer it. General offers are nice, but are less likely to be taken. Specific offers are much more helpful, and are more likely to be accepted.

Not sure what you can do? You can pray without ceasing for your friend. During chemo, I had days when I literally could not pray for myself. Chemo does many things, including reducing mental capacity. I knew I needed to pray, but I could not form the words. On those days, I had a real, almost physical sense that others around the country were praying for me. Do not underestimate the power and comfort in your prayers for others.

How have you learned to rely on your community of friends during difficult days? Are you reaching out to others around you who may need encouragement? How can you offer physical help to someone? Who are you actively praying for today?

(PS – I added a new tab at the top of my page where you can find all of my “brave” posts and other posts connected to my cancer journey. I hope this will make it easier for you to find a particular post for yourself or to share with a friend.)