I am an oldest child. That means many things, one of which is that I have pretty much always been in charge of things. Things like what I wore, where I went, what I ate, my two brothers, my emotions. You know, things.
I grew up to be a nurse, which put me in charge of more things, mostly other people. It felt natural to me to be in control, to be stable, to be helpful especially for others.
My life has been mostly about doing for others – my patients, my friends, my children, my parents, my grandchildren. Now my elderly friends and my elderly husband.
Accepting help was never very easy and asking for help was even more difficult. I saw myself as weak and burdensome, and somehow lacking, to need help, especially from those I felt I should be giving assistance to.
Actually, I can’t remember ever asking anyone to assist me when I was in need. I just relied on someone being able to notice my situation and offer to help. Then I would accept, reluctantly of course. How strange that I just realized that fact!
In doing so, I have denied myself and others the true gift of helping. I have told others to not do what I have done myself. The truth is, the need of one is the need of the all in the village, so to deny the need is to lie to the whole village.
By denying any need, I was basically telling everyone I was fine when I was was not. I was telling myself I was fine when I was not. I was saying I could handle the situation when I could not. I was saying I did not need help when I did.
I wasn’t allowing anyone the opportunity to share with me any of their gifts. I was denying the relationships I had with family and friends. I was not trusting the strength of any relationship to weather the stress of providing help. I was distancing everyone I knew without realizing it.
When people are allowed to help each other there is a bond and strengthening of the relationship. They feel that they know each other so much better, almost as if they carry a secret between them.
There is a joy and a happiness shared that remains special and maybe never has to be even spoken in words again. But it is there, in the eyes, in the smile, in the handshake.
People become their best selves when rising up to another’s need. They do things they never thought they could do because it is for someone else and not for self. Their super power, which everyone has, emerges to everyone’s surprise and then the village says, “We knew she had it in her!”
Some really special people see needs in us we never knew we had, and come forth with a helping hand. Now how generous is that?!!! Pray that we have an open mind and heart to accept help such as that, so openly gifted.
As a mindful elder I am learning to be a better example of not only a cheerful giver but a grateful receiver. We can all learn to be better. The rewards are magnificent!!!