Why Accepting Help Builds Community
Apr 12, 2015 09:21AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Oh my goodness! Did I just type the words “accepting help”? Did that make some of you cringe? I’m unfurrowing my brow right now as I read over it. It makes me want to scurry like a scared mouse into the nearest hole in my relationship wall and hide in the sideboards.
But what are the sideboards, really?
I would like to suggest they are pride!
A few weeks ago, I posted this little goody on social media:
Writing a blog about how letting someone help us is building community. I'm working on letting people help. It builds into trust and relationship.
Aren’t good intentions the best things ever?
But then pride sat back down on my head (actually, it rather roughly plopped itself there), and I thought: I’ll write that later. I have one inspired thought. Who is going to care?
Then, suddenly, it was Good Friday, and I shared on social media how I came slamming into Holy Week(end) fully unprepared:
I was not in any way prepared for Easter other than my heart. I had no groceries, no plans, no clean house, and frankly, I was tearfully overwhelmed by the thought of prep and clean-up when our lives have been so hectic and full of nonstop medical appointments in this season. We never have family with us, and the holidays can be a time I feel very sad about that, even though 22 years into this gig, I should be more used to it. But I'm not, and it makes me crazy-sad every holiday. I didn't feel strengthened to have someone over this year. So off I went to Good Friday service, asking God for a good plan. A dear woman (and new friend) sitting in front of me turned around and greeted me. The next thing out of her mouth was: "Would your family want to come over for Easter dinner?" What now? What did you say? I almost wept at the kindness, and relief swept over me as I thought about how that is the mission of Jesus: to reach out and lift up—to something we didn't earn but just because He loves us and He came to wash our feet. I come to the cross renewed, refreshed, and so incredibly humbled that He answered the tiny, seemingly insignificant prayer of one of His daughters who merely felt wrung out and laid my trust upon His feet. Happy Easter! I cannot wait to celebrate the resurrected Christ!
So, a bit more humbled now, I am right back where I started: accepting help.
Here were my (wrong) preconceived notions:
- Accepting help makes me weak.
- I can never repay the other person.
- I’m a taker, freeloader, a person who takes advantage of people.
- People will see me differently now that I am in need.
Sound familiar? Do you ever hear those taunts in your own mind?
Then I started to reflect on how I feel when people let me into their lives and receive my genuine love, care, and interest in helping them:
- That I am strong and/or safe enough to help carry their burdens for a little while
- That I love to give and be allowed to do so, expecting nothing in return
- That they have confidence in me
- That they trust me
See what I’m getting at here?
So, when I withhold the blessing from someone to build into my life and offer assistance, I really have a two-way problem, don’t I? I miss the chance to take a risk and be vulnerable, humbling myself, and I simultaneously rob them of the incredible experience that can only come from being trusted with a need.
Granted, not everyone can be trusted. We need to exercise discernment, but if we offer someone the chance to love us in a way that reaches in, we are also extending the hand of friendship. We are building up another person, establishing trust, strengthening relationship, and increasing confidence. We are essentially saying: “You are received.”
Exodus 17:8-12, ESV, Moses narrating
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses's hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Ever feel like Moses? Need someone to hold up your hands because you are so weary? Who are your Aaron and Hur? Whom will you let grab an arm or two?
Whenever I think I am self-sufficient (which is just a myth I convince myself of), not only do I limit myself to “going it alone” when I don’t have to, but the choice to not receive help only isolates me and rejects others.
Hebrews 13:16, ESV, anonymously written
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
And for those of us who put our faith in Christ, do you see what it says here?
Galatians 6:2, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Who am I to keep someone from pleasing God or fulfilling the law of Christ?
So, what are we missing when we rock
it solo and independent? Well, Moses couldn’t do it alone. God offered him
community. I bet those were some moments Aaron and Hur didn’t easily
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.