All By Myself

“I do’d it myself, Daddy!”

He had, too.  The little boy wore his underpants backward all day.  But he had put them on himself, without any help.  A better father would have figured out a way to teach a life lesson while encouraging the tyke in his self assertiveness, but on that day, it seemed to be good enough for this young dad.

He did it himself.

Funny.  By yourself isn’t always a good thing.

The phone rang at the music store this morning.  It was the Lovely Lady, calling from a neighboring town about twenty-five miles away.  A good friend had an appointment with her medical specialist and needed some moral support, so she dropped everything and went.  By yourself isn’t always a good thing.

I assumed that the doctor’s consultation was completed and she was preparing to come back.  It wasn’t quite that simple.

“The back tire is flat.  It’s pouring down rain.”  “No, it wasn’t good news.”

The last was in answer to my question about our friend.  I wished I could put my arms around her right then, but these smart phones don’t work that way yet.  I closed the store and drove my old pickup truck the twenty-five miles in the rain to change her tire.  By yourself isn’t always a good thing.

She stood and held the umbrella to keep the rain off me while I took off the flat tire and replaced it with the little doughnut spare.  She could have stayed in the car and kept warm and dry, while I changed the tire by myself.   I’m glad she knows that by yourself isn’t always a good thing.

Why is it this way?  When we are children, nothing could be more important to us than to do something by ourselves.  It’s almost a rite of passage, this attitude of independence.

“I can do it myself!”

We stood by the side of the huge Arkansas River the other day and watched the event unfold.

A lone fisherman in his little bass boat pulled up to the jetty beside the boat ramp and tied up, jumping onto the rocks and trekking up to the parking lot where his truck and trailer waited for him.  Backing the trailer down into the water, he got out of the truck and back into the boat.  He used his electric trolling motor to push away from the rocks and rounded the point coming toward the back of the boat trailer.  Perhaps, he was distracted by talking on his cell phone, but as he approached the trailer, he switched to the outboard motor at the rear of the boat.

The start of the problem was when he got over to the left just about six inches.  Instead of pulling up between the outer supports of the trailer, he floated in right over the left one, tipping the boat a little.  I assumed that he would back out and try again.  He, being a man, wasn’t about to reverse the motor.  Seriously.

He did the only thing he could do (without backing up) and, walking to the front of the boat, dropped off to the front of the trailer, between the prow of the craft and the post by which it would be secured to the trailer.  Seemingly forgetting that the outboard was still pushing it forward, he stood in front of the boat and shook it until it dropped between the side supports.

No longer snagged and held back by being high centered on the left support, the boat surged forward and knocked the man down, trapping his leg between the hull and the trailer.  He was no longer distracted by the phone, but dropped it onto the deck, now looming over him, and turned his full attention to escaping the trap he had set for himself.  High up on a bluff above him, we were too far away to do him any good, and no one else was nearby to help.  He was on his own.

Within a few seconds, which no doubt felt like an eternity to him, he was able to shove the boat over a bit and release his trapped leg.  He jerked out quickly and sped around to the side of the boat trailer to cut the power to the motor.

By yourself isn’t always a good thing.

I think I heard him say into the phone, as he picked it back up a minute later,  “I do’d it myself!”

Well, perhaps not.  But, the situations don’t feel all that different–the toddler’s and the fisherman’s.

Sometimes, our pride gets the best of us, doesn’t it?

I remember the little boy’s face as he announced his triumph over the article of clothing.  I didn’t have the heart to correct him then.  That would come often enough in the ensuing years.  We expect our children to exhibit a certain amount of foolishness as they learn.  There is time to correct as they grow.

The fisherman, on the other hand . . .

My mind drifts back to the events of today and I realize the blessing of family and friends.  I also realize the blessing of wisdom to ask for help when we can’t face the task at hand alone.  From friends who need support as they face the unknown, to a husband and wife who can count on each other to help shoulder the burden of disappointment and unexpected barriers in the way, our lives are full of chances to step back and admit we can’t do it alone.

Perhaps it’s time to let go of our pride and just nod our heads the next time we hear the words–

“May I help you with that?”

I’m working on it.

By yourself isn’t always a good thing.

“Pride precedes destruction; an arrogant spirit appears before a fall.”
(Proverbs 16:18 ~ ISV)

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
(Maya Angelou ~ American poet/author ~ 1928-2014)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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4 thoughts on “All By Myself

  1. Glad to see this, Paul. A lot of people think the Bible says “God helps those who help themselves,” which is no where to be found in any translation, but that thought often drives people to keep struggling and striving instead of asking God for help. As I understand it, the Bible says God helps those who call on Him. May God bless those who pray for help in Jesus’ Name.

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