In my opinion, there are few things more irksome and potentially awkward than receiving charity. I remember as a first grader even, grinding my teeth together whenever a boy would open a door for me. I can do it myself! I would think. (I may have been a bit of a feminist even at that age.)
What I had not learned yet, was the fact that when someone does something for me (in love, mind you), it doesn’t mean they’re saying I am unable to do it, but it’s rather about me allowing them to gift me with something.
Oh, the chafing—!
It took me decades to learn this.
Logic, meet Denial.
Sometimes it’s even hard for me to accept the social charity of a friendly hello. Does anyone else feel this way? Perhaps it’s an introvert thing. Suddenly, it becomes a math equation: I feel obligated to supply some kind of socially-appropriate response of equal or greater cheerfulness. Like how you feel when someone sends you a text with a million emoji smiley faces. Well, now you have to send them a million and one emoji smiley faces.
Except for you, Campbell. 🙂
As long as I’ve known him, he’s never used an emoji. We have theorized that if he ever were to use one, his phone would spontaneously combust.
I must admit, my pyro side would like to test this theory.
My bill-paying side would not.
Someone who struggles with receiving charity just as much as me is my youngest daughter, Ivy. She is our pirate princess. Glitter-laced dresses and sparkly unicorn headbands mixed with mud and dirt and guns and swords. She’s our most competative child by far, unafraid of confrontation, fiery, fearless, gets in trouble for punching her brothers when they annoy her (despite being the youngest and smallest), and yet has the biggest blue eyes and the biggest, brightest smile. She is genuinely sweet and a class clown and brings joy wherever she goes and will give everything she has for you if she loves you, but…she refuses to accept help from anyone for anything, whether it’s getting a bowl for her in the top cabinet—promptly climbs onto the counter—or carrying one of two full-sized Coleman chairs—she insists on carrying both…which she does…with aplomb. She’s five. The chairs are just as big as she is.
Today Ivy wanted to “help” me hold open a bathroom door. Kind? Potentially, depending on motive. Necessary? Not in the least. I told her not to touch it because it was covered in germs, to let Mommy get the germs on her hands instead. She then proceeded to point to different sections of the door, like the coat hook and the door handle, asking if she could touch those.
Apparently, the sarcasm apple doesn’t fall far from the sarcasm tree.
I then told her something that came straight from the Holy Spirit. I know this because, well, first, I’m not that wise, and second, while I was in the middle of saying it to her, part of my brain broke off and turned around to look at the part that was speaking with raised eyebrows, then proceeded to mentally write down what was being said so I could remember it…since…it wasn’t really me saying it.
It was a clear moment of, Mandy, this is for both of you.
Yes! Got it, Lord. Mentally scribbling… Yes. Both of us. Got it.
After I said it to Ivy the first time, there was a deep silence (likely shock), then I repeated it, more for my memory’s sake than for hers.
It takes just as much strength to accept help as it does to give it.
The reason why I needed this reminder is because there are few things more ripe for charity than living with mental illness. I have to rely on so many other people, and 90% of the time, it’s Campbell. And he’s the one with cancer! But he wants to do it. And I need him to do it.
The truth is, when I don’t accept someone’s generosity, not only am I rejecting a blessing from God, but I’m not allowing someone else to fulfill what God has called them to do.
Ah…the chafing won’t end.
God gave me (burdens and all) to Campbell, and him (burdens and all) to me. He makes no mistakes. Thinking eternally according to what the Bible says about God’s power (2 Peter 3:8, Psalm 139:16), out of all of the billions, maybe even trillions, of human souls that have ever lived or will ever live on earth, the Lord chose me for Campbell, and him for me.
Take that, Hallmark card.
(See how I neatly hid my (not-so-)secret romantic side behind theology?)
Unlike what the enemy is always trying to convince me of, it’s not any more my fault that I have bipolar disorder than it is Campbell’s fault for having CML. I need to swallow my pride, accept Campbell’s help, and allow him to carry me when I need it, even if he’s crippled too.
And try not to grind my teeth about it.