I’ve always struggled with asking for help and even more so with accepting help.
As soon as I hear “Do you need help with …” or “Do you want me to …” my mouth starts forming the word “no.”
I think the first time I realized how much I struggled with asking for and accepting help was with the birth of my first child. At that time, help came from every direction – cooked meals, errands, laundry, babysitting to allow for a shower. And while I was gracious for my family and friends to offer, my instinct was to say “no.”
I think that quick “no” came from guilt. Guilt that I wouldn’t be able to return the favor. Guilt that someone is focusing their energy on me. I believe my mother-in-law saw the weight of the guilt though, as one day she put into words the “out” I was looking for.
We can help and want to help, and one day you’ll hopefully be able to do it for your family. So for now, it’s okay to be a gracious receiver.
Those two words resonated with me and gave me a concept I understood. It was okay to accept dinners and let someone clean my dishes. Accepting help wasn’t because I wasn’t capable, it was a way of receiving my family and friends’ love and support. It was a way of acknowledging their love for me and being able to show gratitude and compassion in return.
Now, as we approach the holiday season, I turn to her words again as a reminder to remain gracious and open to every gesture, big and small.
To teach my kids this concept, I’m teaching them to pause.
We pause, appreciate the gesture and gift, and say thank you. We show gratitude that the person offering to help or gifting a present did so because they are capable and want to do something for us. We are thankful that a family member, friend, or even a stranger took time to show compassion and care.
While I’ve gotten much better at accepting help, favors, and gifts, it’s something I still struggle with daily. When the guilt sneaks in though, I tell myself this:
One day I can be the one that offers help. That while right now I am not in a place to cook extra meals for a friend or fold their clothes, one day I will be. But for now, I will open my heart and open my arms as a gracious receiver.