A Charity Case

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.

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11 Comments

Filed under Blue Like Jazz, Christianity, faith, Family, friends, thoughts

11 responses to “A Charity Case

  1. Good for you…

    That is so wonderful, and I pray you discover a whole new world of hospitality now! 🙂 on both the receiving end and the freedom of giving in a less than perfect home… (note… I know LOTS about hospitality in a not perfect home since we do house church once a week!! sometimes its SO hard on my pride!! in a good way!)

  2. Gmama

    It’s so good to see another entry and know that you feel like writing again. We are so fortunate to have you in our family. We love you for who you are.

  3. This is some good stuff, Jennifer.
    From another human who likes having it all together…

  4. WV Grammy

    Wish I could be there to help you but, since I can’t, I am so thankful for those who are. Give them hugs for me. Love and miss you.

  5. wonderful post. first…prayers for you and your health. next…very good writing…I can sooo relate and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. I also just had a friend in the hospital for 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas…a great friend but one who like you, (and me) doesn’t like help…she now has the same thoughts and feelings as you…thank you for your honesty and “realness”. Peace!

  6. I didn’t think you were slurring your speech all that badly, and you still looked pretty fabulous to me–hospital gown, no makeup and all. Plus, I enjoyed playing the part of your personal “water girl.” Almost had to go and get you a bell. 😉

    love you!

  7. thanks for sharing this…:)

    in many ways I can relate…I always find it funny though that most of the people you see who are so helpful to others always feel uncomfortable when they are being helped or on the receiving end of charity…the funny part is that we always reap what we sow…so the more we help others the more we are sowing into others being there for us…so I guess we just have to learn to be recipients of charity as well as the givers of it;)

    God Bless you with a speedy recovery

  8. Get well soon, sweetie.

    Since I’ve learned you have chocolate, I’ll be over to help! 🙂

    Been praying for you!

  9. Just let those people help you! I had similar surgery in November last year (actually, not similar – same area, but not NEARLY as full on as yours!) and boy was I in pain. People brought us meals for days, and I can so relate to the humbling experience of receiving rather than giving. It is hard not to have it altogether.

    But please – look after yourself! I’ll be praying for a speedy recovery. (BTW, Dawn asked us to pray for you – that’s how I’ve come to your blog! 🙂

    Valerie

  10. Thank you all for praying for me. I appreciate it.

  11. As fellow Donald Miller fans, you might wanna check this out:

    http://donnysramblings.com/2007/06/24/donald-miller-is-on-flickr/

    Cool? I think so.

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