You can accomplish anything.
You can do it.
You are enough.
These messages are sent out there in advertising, books, media and songs. There is truth to these messages. You really can do anything you set your mind to. You can change your life, your health, your situation. These messages can be meant as positive messages of motivation and encouragement. That can be a good thing.
However, by these messages do we somehow think we have to do it all on our own? That if we accept help or even ask for help we are somehow…not enough? That we are weak? That we can’t do it?
I believe that can happen, and this message isn’t a good thing for two reasons.
First, as a health coach I would tell you when we put that much pressure on ourselves to do it all and do it well, that creates and causes stress in our lives. When we try to do it all, be strong, and be perfect, we run in high gear, using cortisol to fuel our energy to get us through. Our bodies are amazing and can do that for quite some time, but then our adrenals get stressed out and stop being able to produce enough cortisol for our needs. We start to burn out. Our bodies are affected. Our health suffers. Allowing others to help us, can mean we have more time to rest and relax. It evens can improve our mental health. All important for our well-being.
However, the second reason may be even more important for living an optimal, healthy life. By allowing others to help us or even having the courage to let down our guard and ask for help, we are showing our vulnerability, our strength. We are giving the other person a gift.
A gift? Yes. St. Francis said that it is in giving, that we receive.
If that is true, when we give, what do we receive? What is the gift?
Let me tell you a story. My maternal aunt was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer about a month ago. It is almost everywhere in her body. It is an aggressive form, and she doesn’t have much time.
This past Friday she was hospitalized due to complications of pancreatic cancer…blood clots in her legs that were causing her legs to swell to an inhuman size. There was concern she wouldn’t make the weekend if one of those clots moved. She lives about 1.5 hours away from the hospital in the city in which I live. Her three kids (my cousins) and families live anywhere from 1.5 to 6 hours away. They, of course, rushed to her side, prayed, and waited.
They asked for help. They needed a place to stay. I was happy to offer my home to all eleven of them. There was a lot of coming and going at all hours. It was emotional and scary, but it was also very beautiful. My aunt and her families faith allowed them to face all of this with a smile on their faces and laughter and jokes even through the tears.
My aunt made the weekend. At this point, it is waiting and seeing what will ultimately take her home. She is in excellent spirits. The smile and jokes she offers all that come to see her (and there are many) is comforting to all. She, in her weakness. is ministering to others.
Yesterday, I was privileged to spend 2 hours alone with her. We spoke about many things about her life, her family, what my Mom was like when she was young, and so much more. We also talked about serving others. She thanked me for allowing her family into my home, and I told her what a privilege it has been to be a part of their journey. I was so grateful that they asked me to help. I felt joy in giving.
Do you see? Yes, I gave of my home, my time, food, showers, whatever, but it was nothing compared to what I received. I felt love by being a part of this journey they are on. I witnessed love, sadness, fear, frustration, anger, joy, happiness, peace and gratitude in all the members of the family at different times. In my giving I saw my purpose as a human being…to do my part to help others through their suffering, no matter how small a part.
Yes, there was stress. I always say you should work on handling your stress, reducing your stress. But stress is a part of life and sometimes there isn’t anything you can do about it. But by giving, the joy I received and purpose as a human, more than made up for the stress.
When we don’t accept help when offered, or even ask for help, we are depriving the other person of the gifts that come from giving. It is in the weakness of vulnerability, that you are strong. You are giving. Don’t take the gift of service away from others. Allow others to help you in any small way from time to time. It will build you and that person up.
Do you have the courage to let your guard down? To let others in? To give the gift of service to others?