Like most people, my family likes to pitch in and help when there is a need. We take food to neighbors when they celebrate, heal and mourn. We help move families into new homes and babysit so couples can connect. When our children grow out of their clothes, I like to hand someone bags of dearly loved, gently worn items for their own kids. It brings me such joy to hear of a need and connect someone with a solution. It’s all part of living in community and loving your neighbors, and it feels good to help others.
A few years ago I realized that I am pretty awful at accepting these same gifts that I enjoy giving. While living in Minnesota, our house was hit by a fall tornado that no one could have predicted. Many were more harshly affected, with one family actually losing a child in the storm. Our roof was lifted off of the house and moved over a tad, causing serious water damage to half the house. There was a sign posted on the front door for weeks with the emptiest word I can imagine: UNINHABITABLE.
We were incredibly fortunate throughout this entire ordeal; out of town when the storm hit, a neighborhood of people who came in and rescued our pets, a church full of people who moved the contents of half of the house to the dry half and hired a cleaning service and contractor before we even had returned from our trip! There were many more instances of help that we received over the months, because it was a crisis and we needed all the support we could get.
I struggled with the position of humility that this put us in, needing sheets and towels, paper clips and school supplies. The hardest part for me personally was when the seasons changed and we were unable to get access to our winter coats and gear. We had three school aged children in Minnesota – they needed this stuff immediately! Our neighborhood had been invited by the local emergency assistance organization to come and take whatever we needed. I humbly took our children to the warehouse filled with items for those in need and let them choose their winter coats for the year. I was so grateful that no one talked to us about our situation or even made recommendations, they just let us take whatever we needed. This was the very same place that we had all volunteered at in the past, and given to many times over the years.
It took months for us to climb out of the shock of that ordeal, but would have taken much longer if we hadn’t had so much love and support from our community. Sometimes we extend our hardships because, out of pride and self-sufficiency, we refuse to accept help from others. My question to you is this: when the time comes that you desperately need something that you cannot provide, will you be ready to humble yourself to accept it from someone who can?