I can help edit a book. Work on a project. Paint a house. Clean a road. Or do endless therapy for children in need. But I can’t accept a ride to the airport.
I much prefer being the helper than the helpee.
I have a pathological need to be independent and do it all myself. It is actually really hard for me to accept help without feeling like a burden, even when it is offered freely. I don’t like accepting rides or money or getting all the credit for a group project. I am afraid of appearing perpetually needy, which makes me hesitant to voice my needs. I am learning to realize that it is okay for me to have needs. That people want to help me! And that by not voicing or accepting my needs I am denying me the opportunity to be helped and cared for, AND I’m denying them the opportunity to help.
Think about this. If someone were to come to me and ask about how to do exercise with an infant to strengthen his trunk muscles, I would be overjoyed to provide advise, demonstration, or even come for a playdate to help out this mom! I love babies and helping them develop is what I do for a living. It would give me great joy to share my knowledge and interest in this subject with someone else. Perhaps people who are experts in car repair or financial planning or flower arranging feel the same way when they are asked for their expertise. I can ask for help, knowing that they can easily say no, but giving the opportunity for me to be helped and for them to feel valued for their skills and knowledge. Yes, there are limitations to this! (Don’t expect free medical care from your physician friends!) Understand when your friends can’t help you and thank them anyway. In these cases, it is still a powerful reminder to me that I can’t do it all, that I need others in my life in big ways and small ways. It reminds me that true relationships are two-way streets with both needing and giving help at different times.
To everyone who offers me help, and accepts mine, thanks for traveling this two-way street with me!