There I sat in the emergency waiting room, eight weeks into my current pregnancy with Baby Sister. It was the first day of our mountain vacation. I’d driven an hour just to get to the local hospital after waking up in the early hours of the morning with blood on my pants and on the bed.
My mind raced. I sat there alone, afraid of what was happening, and scared that I was losing our second child. I’d told my husband to stay behind with our son and that I’d update as soon as I could. No point in bringing an energetic child into a waiting room for (what could be) hours.
And so I sat and waited, the only one in the room. A kind, grandmotherly-looking woman eventually came out, a wheelchair jutting out in front of her.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“We’re going to get you back to the ultrasound room so we can see what’s going on with your little one.” She made a gesture for me to have a seat in the wheelchair.
“Oh, we don’t need that. I’m Ok to walk.”
“It’s procedure, honey. We always use a wheelchair with expecting women who come in.” She pushed the wheelchair over to me with a smile.
“No, really… I’m fine to walk.”
“I insist you have a seat. Let’s get you back there so we can check on your baby.” Still smiling, but with a look on her face that she’d shove me into the thing if it came to that.
I sat down in a huff, defeated. She opened the stirrups for my feet and away we went, through double doors, down brightly lit hallways.
I sat there, fuming, arguing in my mind: “Ugh! Why am I sitting in this stupid chair?! I am perfectly capable of walking! This is a waste of hospitality, and I’m not someone that needs this!”
Right then, God said to me: “You have a problem.”
And he was right. I do have a problem.
There I was, scared, alone, anxious, tired, my face so puffy and red from crying all morning over the potential loss of our baby…with blood coming out of me every minute that passed, and all this woman wanted to do was offer me the simple comfort of getting me off my feet.
I cannot accept other people’s help. I can’t.
I swear to you, I am the type of person that could have my son on my hip, three grocery bags in my other hand, three hanging from my neck, and bricks strapped to my back and I would still refuse help from someone. “No, it’s OK. I’ve got it.”
This is why I hate going to Publix. They insist on helping me out to my car. Then they insist on helping me load my groceries. Then they insist on helping me get my child into the car, and they stand and wait so they can take the cart back for me. (Actually, I love Publix. But I can’t say that the prospect of going there doesn’t give me social anxiety: “Ugh, they’re going to offer to take my groceries out. Maybe I should go to Wal-Mart instead today.”)
The other weekend was particularly hard on my six-month pregnant self. My son was going through a sleep regression, which meant that I wasn’t getting any sleep either. I was exhausted all of the time, barely able to hold conversation with my husband without my eyes closing. We had just gotten home from church, and I went to put Joseph down for a nap- with fingers crossed that he’d actually take the nap. Within 30 minutes he was asleep. It was a miracle. It was one of the happiest moments of my life (no kidding!). I lay down on our couch, with the baby monitor in my hands, watching my sons every move to see if he was going to wake back up. My eyes burned with exhaustion and all I wanted to do was leave the monitor behind, close the curtains in our room, crawl into bed, and sleep a blissful sleep.
My husband came over: “You want me to take the monitor so you can go lay down?”
Of course this is what I wanted, but I couldn’t just say ‘Yes’. I clutched the baby monitor like it was gold and replied: “I’m not sure if he’s actually asleep yet. He might wake back up. I’ll go to sleep when he does.”
“Why are you watching that thing? Just leave it to me and go lay down.”
“What if he wakes up?”
My husband took the monitor out of my hands and went into his workshop with it. I retreated into the bedroom and took a deep-sleep two hour nap. So did my son.
But that’s the only way I allow others to help me- by force. And who benefits from this? I certainly don’t allow myself to benefit, especially if I’m resisting and arguing about it the whole time.
And I don’t believe others benefit from it either- how can they possibly? They’ve had to fight just to get me to say ‘yes’, or they have to result in forcefully helping me anyway. By the time I “allow” (if you want to call it that) them to help me, I’ve already taken the joy out of it for them and myself.
I make them struggle just to offer me something of themselves.
I remember one time, admiring two very cute tank tops and being unable to decide which one to buy…when I mentioned this out loud to my friend, he said “Let me get the other one for you.”
I resisted so much, that he finally interrupted me and said (or yelled): “Stacey! When someone gives you something, you take it and say ‘Thank You’. Just let me bless you, OK? Let me do this. You can pay it forward.” And with that, he grabbed the other tank.
I am nowhere close to being perfect when it comes to allowing other people to help me. But I know that it is something I really need to work on…and that’s why I’m writing about it.
And I wish I could say that my resisting help stems from being strong-willed, or proud, or independent…but I have no idea where it comes from…or when it started. I just know that it’s a character flaw of mine that I need to work out. And I never want to portray myself as if I come from a place of perfection or completion, because I don’t. I am a work in progress and so are you. I love how Ruth Graham put it on her tombstone: “End of construction, thank you for your patience.”
We are all a work in progress and our “construction” won’t be complete until we are finally called to be with our Lord.
So, back to our main topic: Saying ‘Yes’ to Help
It’s important that we do. Why?
Have you ever met someone that you really, genuinely, wanted to help or give a gift to? How do you feel when you can do something for someone else out of the goodness of your heart, no strings attached?
It feels great, right?!
One of the main themes throughout the Bible is giving.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” –Hebrews 13:16
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” –Matthew 5:42
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”- Matthew 10:8
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” –Proverbs 3:27
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”- James 1:17
When we deny someone the ability to help us, we rob them of the ability to receive the blessing that comes along with giving. Make it about THEM, not YOU.
The Lord can answer our prayers in many ways- through a person, through a small voice, through a kind word from a friend, through a husband that takes a baby monitor from your stubborn self just so you can sleep- His resources are unlimited.
Rejecting this simple help from strangers alienates us in our times of trouble. Repeatedly, God is saying to us:
“Let me carry this burden for you, even if it’s just for a moment.” “Allow me to give you rest here, while I can.” “Stop choosing to be in this alone, because you are not. You have the people I’ve sent to relieve you of your troubles.”
I think maybe sometimes we want to feel strong, like we’re in control and know what we’re doing. Like we can handle all that life throws at us…but living a proud life will get us nowhere in our relationships or in the Kingdom. We are told to humble ourselves and admit our weaknesses so that His strength can shine through us. (James 4:10 and 2 Corinth 12:9)
Allow others the joy of helping. Allow yourself the relief that comes from being humble and admitting that you actually need help…that sometimes, you don’t have it all together. Sometimes you need to sit in the wheelchair. Sometimes you need to let someone else carry your groceries. Sometimes you need to hand your baby off to someone willing to hold him.
And that’s OK. We are human and the most we can give each other is our time and efforts. Receive the gift and allow someone to be blessed by it.
Prompt: Think of a time you rejected help from someone when you really needed it. How did it make both of you feel? Spend this week accepting the small offerings that come your way. Allow others to bless you. Swallow your pride, practice humility, and say ‘Thank You’ when it is the hardest. Let others see that you don’t have it all together…and watch what happens.
See you next time, friends ❤
If you’re wondering about the bleeding at the beginning of the post- I was hemorrhaging. It took a full week for it to stop, but I’m so thankful it did. It was the scariest week of my life, but we still have our girl and all is well at this point.