Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Accepting Help Even When You Don’t Think You Need It

The other night I stopped by a lovely American chain restaurant with a friend.
She’s in her forties, married, with kids who are almost grown up & married themselves.
[I love visiting with women outside my stage of life.
They offer such unique perspectives & I find myself verbally-processing things
in a way that is different than with my peers. I also find myself watching for
their reactions to what I’m saying & how I’m saying it
Well, I tell you what, “Susan,” we’ll call her, totally caught me.

She was sharing with me some stories from her marriage & I was telling her some stories from my… never-married-life…How I’ve had some family & friends, here & there, close to my heart or new to my heart, just love on me.
They’ve helped me in such unexpected & generous & thoughtful ways that I would, sadly, never dare ask for. I was telling her a story about a sweet friend who forced a brand-new computer on me [see picture] because I was going to go live in the Middle East, alone, without one.

And Susan suddenly said to me:

“I bet it was really hard for you—
to let him love & bless you like that.”

And I just stopped, with my chip mid-air, salsa dripping down the side, with some Celine Dion anthem playing in the background and said,

“Yeah…. it was. I cried. I don’t like crying.”

[My mom wanted him to buy her new living room furniture
while he was at it, but that didn’t happen

“It’s hard for you to accept things from people, isn’t it?” she asked me.

Yikes. I guess so…

And so what do you think I’ve been thinking about ever since?
Nothing but how I hate being helped.

I like to be the helper, the caretaker, the need-see-er & meet-er.
I don’t like people doing nice things for me that are sacrificial
or even a slight inconvenience to them.
I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be seen as weak. Or as a charity case.
I don’t want to need help.

I want to be responsible & kind, carrying my load & probably yours too.
I want you to know that I’m tough & that I’m handling it. No sweat.

But… that’s not how our Father’s intended us to live.
He put us in community, with a need for Him & a need for one another.

So why is it that I refuse help when it’s offered—why don’t I ask for it when I need it?

Pride. Selfishness. Shame. Insecurity. Fear. Stubbornness. Guilt.

Thankfully, one of the major lessons I’m learning by being “on my own”
in the Middle East as a single, white female,
is learning to accept help when I don’t think I need it.
What I love about this lesson is that it has been one
that has transcended language, religion & culture,
one that has been taught to me by Americans & Arabs alike.

People have forced themselves on me in the forms of food, advice, clothing,
haircuts [really bad ones], food, rides home, places to live, $1 DVDs,
food, marriage proposals, electronics, small children, food,
packages from home, and the list goes on.

Ya see, somewhere along the lines, I started living like I had to always be strong,
always be right, always have the answers, always…
And I’m slowly being deprogrammed. [Speaking of computers… ha.]
When I have to leave my apartment & be strong every day,
independent & completely cross-culturally competent [which I’m not],
it’s nice to finally give that up to some degree.
I’m choosing to quietly & graciously say “thank you,”
& to savor the moment by letting another person bless me.
I’m learning to allow God to love me through others.
As Susan reminded me,

“Don’t take away another person’s chance to bless you.”

[And really, how much do I hate it when I have to argue with someone
to let me do something for them or give them something
or send them home with some cookies? C’mon!]

So you can just know that under all these layers,
I’ve been spending a lot of time these last few months being humbled & loved.
I’m learning to be quiet & grateful, contemplative & appreciative,
marveling at how our Father loves to love us
by giving us opportunities to be the “blesser” AND
by making us sit still, hands & hearts open, being the blessed.

If we’re always being prepared for something,
sometimes maybe it’s best to just be made
to stop & receive the help we’re being given—
even when we don’t think we need it.

Of course, with me, there's a bit of a circular learning curve happening here,
but I'm also starting to see a beauty in asking for help -- even when I don't need it.


  1. Make that "bootlegged $1 DVDS" - right?

    Aw. This is sweet. I love that you have a "Susan" in your life. We all need friends in other seasons of life. That verbal processing is invaluable!

    Thanks for sharing the results with us here. Sometimes we take the whole "more blessed to give than to receive" thing a bit out of context. God blesses us both ways.

  2. thanks for hitting the nail on the head. We have so many things in our lives that cause us to be "tough" and "independent". We are alone--culturally, physically, emotionally, mentally, etc... It is so hard to depend on others when we live on this pedestal.
    Thanks for reminding us to let our guard down, to be vulnerable, to let people in.
    How blessed we are to have people that will listen and let us bounce things off them, no mater what generation they are part of.

  3. I found myself waking up this morning and thinking "Oh it's Tuesday, Yellow Dress is updating today" (similar to yesterday's thought"Oh it's Monday, Yellow Dress isn't updating till tmrw :(" hehe) Thank you for sharing this... it is indeed so hard to be the one being helped or the one in need, but lately I've been seeing "the help" as God's way of providing for my needs and answering my prayers unconventionally . Like that one time, when my money for food were done for the month and of course, I asked God to provide for more... and next day this random dude who's been coming to my church for a couple weeks shows up at my door with two groceries bags: one for ME (although I live with a roommate, it was specifically for me ) and one for the church (whoever else needs it) - like for real?! There was milk and potatoes, and coffee!!, and pasta and many other goodies. And no explanation: just because. Or... I am perfectly capable of carrying 2 chairs around, but why not ask for help when there's definitely a guy around who will gladly do it & would feel awkward seeing me do it(way better than ask him do the dishes after church hahahaha)
    It's amazing to see how you love Jesus and do all these things for love... keep on loving!

  4. Just found you for the first time. And LOVE Yellow Dress! Looking forward to Tuesdays!! xo

  5. Thanks for this great post. I can so relate, have difficulty accepting help myself, hate to bother anyone, put anyone out, etc., etc., but I am learning this same lesson you are, learning to sit back and receive from time to time! And let people know when I need help!

  6. hey, I just joined Women of the Harvest and found your blog! So encouraging... thanks!

  7. Jamie Jo: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm supporting the local economy & they won't be crossing international borders. ;) And thanks for your comments & faithful reading.

    Brook: Thanks for identifying with me. It's nice to not be the "only one!"

    AnnaBananna: You're my new favorite. You actually anticipate this stuff? Excellent. ;) Also: Really great story--only our Father can love us in such specific & mysterious ways. Keep that one close to your heart.

    Kimom & Courtney: Welcome, welcome! I love new friends, so just slide on in.

    OliveTree: 'ppreciate you coming by, as always. I love hearing what you have to say. But... I'm a little nervous that this lesson's going to be one that I keep learning... eeeek.

    I love your comments, so keep 'em coming!! :)


  8. great post! thanks, JoyB otherwise known as Britmum in some cyber space place.


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