To Do is To Be ~ Socrates
To Be is To Do ~ Plato
To Be or Not to Be ~ Shakespeare
We in western culture are a doing people. Independent, pull-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps kind of people, where asking for help is considered, at least internally, as a weakness.
Who hasn’t grown up with the saying God helps those who help themselves? Did you know it isn’t Biblical? It’s usually attributed to Ben Franklin, who quoted it in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757 who quoted Algernon Sidney, an English member of Parliament who was executed in 1683. And similar thoughts were expressed by ancient Greek philosophers.
As younger people with children or nieces and nephews, or the children of friends, we wondered when will they sleep through the night, sit up by themselves, roll over, walk, and talk? What will they do when they grow up? We laugh when the toddler says, “I do it!” in a burst of stubborn independence that increases with age.
Then, suddenly, our parents are older adults and more defensive (stubborn?) about maintaining their independence. “Let us help,” we say to their and our own frustrations when needing help is denied as a point of pride. “I/We don’t want to be a burden,” they say, and we say, “But you are not a burden and we can and want to help.” I had that conversation with my Dad so many times. At one point he ended up in the hospital, again, because he couldn’t get to the lab for his weekly blood thinner checks. It was hard for him but he finally accepted that it was okay to allow us to help and we wanted to help. Then he relaxed and we’re certain we had him longer because he changed his understanding of strength and independence versus stubborn.
It’s HARD to realize and harder to accept when we need help.
Last year I broke my wrist and couldn’t drive for several months. I had doctor appointments and also physical therapy three times a week. I had to ask for help and WOW did SsAM and other friends and family step up! It was hard to ask but, in the end, it was a gift to have extra time with these lovely people and they were truly happy to help.
It was those times with my Dad that helped me to know, that as much as we still want to DO for others and ourselves, we have to learn to let ourselves BE accepting of those who want to help us. I think of it as “A Ministry of Receiving.”
A Ministry of Receiving
Remember how it felt when you so wanted to help someone who didn’t want your help. Remember those stubborn toddlers that still needed you but fought it every inch of the way. Remember the Prodigal Son who finally had to come home to get help. Think of asking for and getting the help you need as your new Ministry in this life.
When you ask for and graciously and gracefully accept help for whatever you need, you are DOing something important for another and BEing a vessel of grace for them. When we give, we also receive, AND, when we receive, we also give. We were created to be a community of love and support. As Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…” [John 14:16] Now Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit can give us a nudge, if we seek it, to remember to be A Minister of Receiving in Christ’s Name.
“Doo Be Doo Be Doo” ~ Sinatra
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.