Friday, January 15, 2010


1 a : carry out, apply (practice what you preach)

I am finding out that it's much easier to write about something than to do it. I had really been pondering the importance of receiving earlier this month and now I find myself confronted with the reality of needing help.
I'm having surgery on my leg next week and it's difficult to know exactly what recovery will look like and how it will impact our family. J and I tried to decide whether we thought we should ask others for help. We were torn between wanting to do for ourselves what we can and being realistic about our limitations. In some instances, we just can't avoid asking for help: J can't drive me to the hospital, wait during my surgery and simultaneously pick up the girls from school. But could we manage cooking our own meals? Would I really not be able to stand for long enough to cook?

I still believe what I wrote two weeks ago about how selfish it can be to refuse the help of others, but I do not like to ask for help. So I called a trusted, wise friend and asked her what she thought. Did she really think I would need help with meals? Her answer was a quick and unequivocal yes. She told me that there were plenty of people who would welcome the opportunity to do this for us. When I pointed out that she's not so keen on asking for help herself, she said, "Yes, but luckily right now we're talking about you, not me!" I would generally describe this friend as one of the most encouraging women I've ever known, but she definitely took the tough love approach with me on this question.

So I sent her some names of friends who might be willing to care for our family in this way. To my amazement, the list filled up in less than 24 hours. Now that it's taken care of, I'm really thankful to not have to worry about that part of the two weeks following my surgery. Because as I truly begin to contemplate living in a home with steep basement stairs and an upstairs master bedroom while in a knee brace, it's not looking so easy. A friend suggested I can sit down on the stairs and back my way up to our bedroom, like a toddler might. But the laundry will have to wait, or be done by an already over-worked husband when he gets home in the evenings. Because I am fairly certain there will be no navigating those stairs until I get an all clear from the doctor.

Even as I sit here typing, my legs are bent. How will I sit comfortably for two weeks with a straight leg? It's a little overwhelming and I don't want to let that show because my daughters are worried enough about their mom having surgery. While I have assured them that I will be OK, they're worried about my comfort and the process. K asked me if I would have wires attached to me, she asked whether I'll have to be in a hospital bed, then asked if they will have the sides up on the bed so that I don't fall out, she asked whether they sometimes hurt you at the hospital... she asked questions and more questions. And I did all that I can to reassure her, but how can I know what it will be like?

My pride makes me want to navigate all of this with just the help of my immediate family. If I'm too tired to cook, it won't kill my children to eat cereal for a night. If it hurts too much to drive, A will survive missing a dance class or two. And I can just apologize to J for the inconvenience and extra work while he carts laundry up and down the stairs. But I know deep in my heart that this is not the best way to approach things. Because while it would be easier (in a way) on me, it would be far more disruptive for my daughters. They'd not only have a tired mom, but a grumpy one because I would have to spend my available energy on running our household, not loving them.

For the record, I am truly thankful for the many people who are willing to help us. I just wish I hadn't been given this opportunity to put my words into practice. I'll be careful what I write about from now on...


RBM said...

It's so funny and full of irony sometimes how God works in our lives. I have had this happen to me much too often. Glad you are letting people help!

Allison said...

Great post, as usual. It seems like you have it worked out nicely, but I'll chime in anyway. Part of my job as a nurse has been to encourage people to ask for help if I think they will need it clinically. So I've spent a fair amount of time talking people into asking for help for themselves. Nearly everyone is reluctant to do so. However, a lady put it to me like this one time, "It blesses other people to help you, and when you refuse that help, you are robbing them of a blessing."