Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I used to think that asking for help or even accepting it made me weak. My Brothers would get mad at me when we were younger because they would find out about my problems after I had already solved them or after I had a complete and total meltdown. Asking for help I thought was not an option. While I was in High School my Dad became very sick and then was temporarily laid off from his job. The result...very hard times. Since I attended a Catholic school the effort that it took to keep me enrolled was daunting. I had joined a club and in it we were to have a dinner. I bowed out gracefully knowing that I could not afford the 10 dollars that was needed to attend. My friends (knowing my plight) paid for me and made me go. I thanked them but inside I was furious. I didn't want to be a charity case. I felt embarrassed and weak when the night of the dinner came. I faked my smile the whole time. I knew that everyone there knew how I had gotten there and my pride was bruised. I equated their kindness to losing my dignity. I wasn't grateful. I know that God was probably trying to tell me something but I was too tangled in my pride to listen. Fast forward 30+ years. Before my cancer (which is now gone). I was in the super market (My least favorite place in the world) and as I was about to pay the middle-aged cashier, a man who looked like he was homeless walked up to her and handed her some change. She in turn rolled her eyes and said "No, it's OK don't worry about it." He then said "Thank you so much for what you did before, but I got the money and I can pay you now." She sighed and took what looked like less than ten cents. As he walked away she muttered "I told him that it was OK he shouldn't have come back here. He apparently had bought something and didn't have the correct change. She added "came back to give me just a few pennies...please" she was unbelievably annoyed. I got it I got it.It wasn't the money . He was saving his dignity. He had to bring that money to her. That small gesture was his way of saying "I still have my dignity." This man who has practically nothing and who is probably seen by some as nothing graciously accepted her gift and came back to give her a gift in return. He wanted to thank and show her that he was someone in dire straits but with dignity just the same. He was able to receive graciously and give back but she didn't see or understand him.(or maybe she did later on I hope). He was trying to let her see him as a person. A real flesh and blood person. I am convinced that lesson was for me to remember. I can give but accepting help is hard. When I got sick a few years later I was forced to think of that man over and over as I had to accept that people were praying for me instead of the other way round. I had to accept my sister-in -law's help with consistent (and sometimes without much warning) help with babysitting. I had to give my husband the task of drainage tubes, and cleaning scars that I myself could not even look at. I had to accept that it didn't make me weak, or less than...it made me loved. Lesson finally learned. I am grateful so grateful to God for it. Every now and then I need a reminder but with age come wisdom....I hope. So for a long time today I prayed for anyone who is going through the tough battle of cancer and hope that you allow others who love you to help you. Whether it's the neighbor who brings you dinner or the person who offers to pick up your kids from school. Their gift to you is their way of helping and accepting is your way of helping them too. So these ten minutes have been spent writing this but today was a day to remember, pray and to finally look back to those High School friends and say Hey guys, Thank you so much...I really do appreciate it now.