Let People Help You


Last week was, shall we say, not the best.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had the flu last week, which I don't think I've had before and it was so awful. I don't know if it was more the flu itself or the fact that I was 37 weeks pregnant or a combination (probably a combination), but I felt completely miserable.

While that was going on, Jordan got whipped in the eye with a giant piece of wire at work and had to go to the emergency room and then see an eye doctor. For two days he couldn't see, and I had to lead him around the house like he was a blind person. I got cold rags for his eye and gave him his antibiotic drops, and I had the flu, so it's not like I was feeling 100% myself. A few people told me that they were surprised how well I was taking it, but honestly I  just kept laughing because it was so ridiculous.

R also spent a full day throwing up on Wednesday, and once was in the car with me when I was headed home from picking up my Tamiflu prescription. I think it was a random virus thing, and she was okay the next day, but I called my mom in actual hysterics while R was sitting in the backseat covered in vomit. That part I did not laugh about. I think we can all agree that vomit is never funny.

My personality is not one to suffer silently. I texted our family and friends about me having the flu and R throwing up and Jordan's eye, and I asked for prayer and vented because I'm a verbal processor and not an entirely private person. Some people are not those things, and it's uncomfortable for them to let others know when they are having a hard time. Neither way is wrong, just different, and to be honest I sometimes wonder if people think of me as a dramatic person or annoying for being so outgoing and open.

Jordan and I are extremely blessed with a really supportive and loving community. I know not everyone has that, and it's something I try not to take for granted. Jordan's mom was immediately open to helping out, taking the kids to stay at their house so they could hopefully avoid catching the flu from me. She drove Jordan to his eye doctor appointment because he couldn't drive himself, and I was still contagious and didn't feel like getting out of the house even if I could have.

Friends texted and asked what they could do for us. I had someone drop off a vanilla shake (totally hit the spot because my throat was aching so bad from all the coughing); another friend brought over a frozen lasagna and two cans of soup (so awesome because for a few days the sinus pressure made my jaw lock up and I could hardly open my mouth to chew anything). Another friend brought over some Gatorade (which Jordan and I both enjoyed since I was tired of just drinking water). Jordan's mom picked up a few things at the store for us and brought us leftover chicken tacos she'd made for dinner.

Gift giving is my top love language. I love sending mail, thinking of the perfect present for birthdays and Christmas, and showing people I'm thinking about them with the offer of a gift, big or small. I'm not in any way trying to pat myself on the back or ask for praise. I'm just saying that for me, gifts are  a way I love others, and receiving gifts is a way I feel loved myself.

I've found over the years that it can sometimes be hard to get people to accept help. I definitely think it helps to be specific (when this week can I bring you dinner? is much better than an ambiguous let me know if you need dinner.), but even then, people often say no. And as the person reaching out, this makes me sad! I'm asking because I do want to help. I want to bring you something. I want to make you feel loved and supported. When people say no, I think, Just let me do something, anything! 

But after last week, I have to say, I get it.

It's not uncommon to set up a meal train after someone has a baby or offer to bring a meal when someone comes home from the hospital after having surgery. That seems worthy of attention. But, honestly, I felt silly having a friend bring me a shake or soup just because I was sick. I felt like a problem asking Jordan's mom to watch my kids all week or pick him up to take him to the doctor. I felt like a whiner telling my friends about how bad I was feeling and how worried I was about Jordan's eye (he's mostly recovered! such an answer to prayer!).

I was so, so grateful for the support, but I felt like I was just being a problem.

I realized that's probably why people say no when someone offers to help. It's easier to say no than feel like a burden. You convince yourself that they didn't really want to help anyway, that they are just asking to be nice, and that you should be able to handle this on your own.

And sure, I could have handled last week on my own. I wasn't going to die if I didn't have a vanilla shake. I have things in my house I could have eaten other than soup. I could have gotten out and driven Jordan to the eye doctor by myself if there was no one else around. I technically didn't "need" anyone's help, but I'm glad I said yes.

Let people help you. That's what I learned last week.

It's vulnerable and awkward, but it also builds friendships and inspires community. Life isn't always easy, but I think we often make it harder than it has to be because we aren't always great at asking for or accepting help. 

There's a balance, of course. I don't want to be (I hope I'm not) the kind of person, the kind of friend, who is always complaining and negative about everything. We are all struggling, and we shouldn't be a burden to others by constantly asking for help over and over again. 

But it's okay that sometimes it's just nice when someone stops by with a can of Campbell's soup and a bar of chocolate. It doesn't mean you're failing at life. It just means that you're sick and soup sounds really good and you don't happen to have any in your house.

Angi said...

Such good advice! Gift giving is one of my top love languages, too, and I love nothing more than being able to help someone out if they need it, even if it’s as simple as dropping off milkshake. But allowing someone to help me?? Nooooope, haha. It’s SO hard for me to say yes to help. I’m so grateful to be living close-ish to my mom again (she’s still an hour drive away but it’s better than a 3 hour plane trip away) but when I had K, she took multiple half-days off work to come help me out while I was adjusting to having a 2 year old and an infant while dealing with Isaiah working 12 hour shifts. I felt *so guilty*, like I was incapable of handling my own kids all by myself, even in the throes of postpartum torture. I think sometimes it’s a form of pride, when we can’t accept some help, because it means we can’t do it all. It’s certainly humbling to say yeah, I could use a hand!

Lauren said...

ALWAYS let your village help you. Love love love the village.

Sarah said...

this is awesome! it is hard for me to let others help, but it is always so worth it when i do. this fall when we lost our baby to miscarriage, we were supported by the body of christ in ways that i've never experienced before. it was so hard to receive that but i don't know how we'd have survived otherwise. it has made me desire to support others in times of need, big or small. i hope you guys have a relaxing bit of time before the baby comes!

AnneMarie said...

I love this! I am a pretty independent person, and gift-giving is on the bottom of my list for "love languages," and I've found that it's really hard for me to ask for or accept help. I'm trying to get better about this, because it does, like you point out, build friendships and community, and it's a great opportunity for me to grow in humility and recognize that I can't do this alone! I think the biggest things that have helped me grow in this area is having a very chill husband who reminds me not to overthink things (when I think that I'm being a burden asking for or accepting help, he'll remind me that many people genuinely want to help), and also just having kids. Especially after I gave birth to our second, following up on offers from people was so important during postpartum recovery and the transition to life with a newborn!

Torrie said...

Having the flu this late in your pregnancy (or AT ALL in your pregnancy)? DEFINITELY DON'T FEEL ONE IOTA OF GUILT OVER ACCEPTING ALLLLLL THE HELP, ha ha! Being pregnant in the third trimester is hard enough, and having the flu is hard enough. Both of them together definitely justify a bit of whining and vanilla-milk-shaking :)

Hope you're feeling better!

Betsy said...

This is such an important lesson and one that's so hard to learn - and relearn, and relearn, and relearn again. I'm glad you were able to accept help and that you have such a wonderful community around you! You give back in a million ways <3

Audrey Louise said...

Man, I learned this lesson over and over after M was born. I HATE accepting help or needing help or GOD FORBID asking for help. Even from my mom. Man... I was a wreck for two weeks and I finally caved and started letting people help. Life changed completely. Such a good lesson to learn. And it's honestly something I'm still working on- even with K. I've always done most of the housework but with M's needs I don't have it in me to do it all... and I need to ask K for help because he's not used to me letting him help me. (He would help- I just like doing it all myself.) Such a lesson. Sheesh.

Rachel said...

I think this is really, really relatable. I don't know why we can all understand wanting to help people we care about but can't really deal with inconveniencing other people when we need help. It's silly. I felt so guilty about having my mom stay overnight at our place for a few nights and for her having to help with Cyrus a lot when he was a newborn and I was too weak to hold him or bathe him...I think only really after having Glenn and having a much, much better recovery and not needing so much help I kind of realized how sick I really was at the time and finally accepted that it wasn't something to be disappointed in myself for...it was just that I was really sick and really needed help to keep me and baby alive back then.
You are blessed to have such a great community! Angel has a work trip coming up and he's planning to be away five nights. A coworker of his said he and his wife could stop by or help bring over food for me and babies while Angel's gone and...I thought it was really sweet although I don't actually know them...and I will probably say we don't need the help, haha... But I do appreciate the offer...

Jenny Evans said...

I love your thoughts here. It drives me crazy when people are like, "You watched my kids, I owe you a favor!" I wish we could all help people so often that no one bothered to keep track. I have some friends who will not let me help them unless they feel like I'm paying them back for a favor they've recently done and it makes me so sad!