Thursday, July 05, 2012

Mid-life Lesson #20: Accepting help is a spiritual gift

Parents help their children out so frequently it is virtually past mentioning, and children so frequently overlook this it would be tragic if it weren't so natural.

So I preface this post by stating the obvious, that my most frequent and continuing helpers, the ones from whom I have received the most gifts, are my parents. So thank you mom and dad.

I can remember precisely when I realized receiving help and gifts was a spiritual gift, and I had it. Traveling on tour with the Luther College band, and then later that summer staying with host families as a VBS day camp counselor, I learned how important it is to let people host you, cook for you, and give you gifts. Accepting these things graciously is itself a gift.

A small water color one mother painted for me when I worked for Rainbow Trail Lutheran Bible Camp and staffed a VBS in Colorado still graces our wall. We hiked out to some foothills, and while I walked the trails with her kids, she set up her easel and painted this:

Asking for and accepting help takes strength and courage. Accepting help blesses by the helper by affording opportunity to be of service. I have found, for the most part, that although I don't "depend" on help more than average, I'm open to receiving help more readily than average, and this because of an insight I learned while on those week long trips...

If we deny someone the opportunity to help us or gift us, we take something away from them. So the life lesson, if you are willing to accept it as a gift, is to be ready, the next time someone offers help, to reframe the scenario. You aren't doing something for you by welcoming a gift. You are doing something for the giver. Receiving gifts is a grace, and it is gracious both to give and receive them. The trick is in remembering that receiving a gift is itself a doubled and extended gift.


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I love this one! After many years of being overly self-reliant, I have been slowly learning this lesson. As Lenten discipline, which I have thankfully continued since Easter, I started a 12-step program to deal with some of the issues in my life that were becoming increasingly unmanageable. This lesson is one that I am learning.

  2. Anonymous11:08 AM

    This a great post. It would seem that Lutherans would be good at this, since we focus so heavily on trusting and receiving the grace of God, but I and others struggle with it. To Love the Neighbor means to be loved by the neighbor as well. Thanks, Clint.

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