Sometimes it’s difficult to allow other people to help you. It’s tough to admit you can’t do everything and that you need help. In Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller writes about the difficulty of humbling ourselves and admitting we need God’s charity. God’s charity extends beyond salvation, though, and it can be just as hard to humble ourselves and admit we need additional charity, additional help. Accepting help . . . humbling myself . . . allowing other people to be a blessing to me . . . have been lessons God has been teaching me lately.
I am a busy homeschooling mom of six young children. I like people to think I have it all together. I like to prepare meals for other women. I like to send little encouraging notes. I like to be the giver, and it is uncomfortable for me to be the receiver, the one who needs meals, the one who needs encouraging notes.
Last fall, when it became obvious that some health issues were leading toward a surgery I did not desire, our Father impressed upon me my need to be honest and open and transparent about what was happening. So I told my friends and asked for their prayers. I shared my emotions and struggles as honestly as I could. I was uncomfortable.
In the days leading up to my surgery, I received a couple phone calls of encouragment. One motherly friend called with laryngitis, barely able to speak, to tell me she was praying and that I would come through fine. Another friend called to pray with me. Another called to share a Bible verse God had laid on her heart for me. Friends emailed assuring me of their prayers and well wishes. So many people called or visited the hospital this week that the hospital operator commented about what a popular girl I was. 🙂 I was overwhelmed with love and support.
Friends dropped by with flowers or chocolate. My nurse asked if I was a chocolate freak because I had so much chocolate in my room. Everybody who visited prayed with me. One friend came and sat with my while my husband took our children to AWANA Wednesday night. Though she’s pregnant and probably didn’t feel like it, she held the bowl while I threw up and she wiped my mouth. She helped me brush my teeth. And she watched me drift in and out of sleep. I was humbled. When several friends were visiting and I began to feel sick, they jumped into action, searching out a bigger bowl for me to hold and wetting a washcloth for my face. I was still rather dopey and their visit is a little bit of a blur, but I was so happy to see them. There I was, slurring my speech, straining to focus, wearing an unfashionable hospital gown. I was without a shower, without makeup, without styled hair. I was hovering over a bowl fighting off nausea. I was humbled. I definitely did not look like a woman who had it all together. Yet I felt so blessed.
Yesterday afternoon, I looked at the flowers and cards and goodies filling my room and named the people who had called or emailed or visited, and I said to my husband, “You know, if I had kept all this private and not told people what was happening, I would have missed out on all of this.” He nodded and smiled in agreement. Maybe I would have appeared more dignified and together, but I would have missed out on such a blessing.
Today, I watched my sister-in-law doing dishes and changing diapers and playing with my children. How difficult it is to not be doing those things myself! But how blessed I am to have her here serving me. A friend called to say she wants to bring a casserole to church on Sunday. We gladly accepted her offer. It’s difficult to acknowledge that we need charity, but God is showing His charity to us through the love of people. My pride wants to scream out in rebellion, but His Spirit prompts me to accept His charity in humility.
As people come into my home to help me and serve me, they are seeing my stacks of clutter, my unorganized closets, my piles of laundry. They’re seeing the dirty baseboards, the magic markers on the walls, the stains on the carpet, the unfinished projects. They’re seeing beyond the image I project to the real me, the one who is far from perfect, the one who is barely keeping the plates spinning. It’s humbling. It’s the antithesis of perfectionism. It’s painful. But I am being blessed as I allow others to serve me and as I receive their love.
I have not arrived at this point cheerfully or willingly. I came kicking and screaming. I wanted to be in control, and I had a full-fledged temper tantrum about this whole ordeal. But as I lay in the hospital bed yesterday knowing that so many people had seen me at my worst — when I was heavily medicated and didn’t even know what I was saying! — and they just wanted to be there to love on me and bless me, my heart attitude began to change.
Oh, in a couple days, I may be stressed again about the thought of someone seeing my house in such a mess, but I hope the Spirit gently reminds me that it’s not all that important. So what if people know I’m really only being held together by His power, that I’m a mess in my own strength, that I’m not able to do it all! I do need God’s charity, and I need the charity of His people. I need help. Right now, it’s obvious because I am physically not able to do things on my own, but it was true before this surgery and it will be true after I’m healed. I cannot do everything on my own, and I do need help. I need to allow other people the blessing of helping me.