I am a giver. I give and give. It’s my jam. Not bragging here, but it is something I’ve always done well. It comes easily to me. I love to love people. I love to shower them in love so much that they are brimming when I leave them. Because I just don’t think there’s enough love in the world. I love to cook meals for people, making things for people, whatever I can do to make someone feel more loved than when I first met them.
But, receiving that? I’m horrible at it. I have been in horrible situations and, even though I needed help desperately, I turned it down. When my husband was deployed and I was having dangerous preterm labor, I had offers for meals. I said no. When we’ve had massive illness in the house while Richard was working late hours, people offered help. I said no. When I had major surgery last year, I didn’t even tell anyone. Then, when it came out two weeks later while I was still recovering, more friends offered help. I said no. And a very dear friend told me something. She said that when we let others help us, we are letting them be Christ to us. I read recently that, when we accept other people’s offer to help, we allowing Christ to answer our prayers through them. Imagine that.
It’s not that I’m too proud to accept the help. I feel so badly putting other people out. I think, she has a family of her own. They just moved in. I can come up with all sorts of reasons why that person does not need to be helping me. But, perhaps by saying no, I’m blocking that person’s opportunity to grow closer to Christ. I am denying a person the chance to grow in virtue. By saying no, I’m not allowing that person to grow in goodness. And I am also doing all that to myself.
Christ shouldered the biggest Cross. Every splinter on that thing was a pain, loss, or suffering that someone in the course of humanity will or has suffered. Splinters hurt. And they can be huge (I’ll spare you the story of the time my cousin had one that went all the way up his shin). Splinters can make it impossible to walk, and they are awful to get removed. Every splinter we have struggled with, big or small, made up the beautiful, blood-soaked grain in that Cross. And the strongest Man ever born could not shoulder His cross alone. He fell three times and then St. Simon had to be called to come and help Him shoulder human suffering the rest of the way to Calvary.
Three times, women offered help this week. Three times, I swallowed and said, yes. Three times, they came up my walk with blessed food and left it in my arms. And three times, I went inside and cried. Because dinner is the hardest when your husband is away, and it’s harder when you can’t even get out of bed from illness. It’s harder when your children are so very sick. These women came, gave love, and left. These women helped me shoulder my cross. I don’t think they know how thankful I am. How grateful my children were, too.
In getting past my fear of saying yes, I experienced the other side of charity. I experienced great love. Great beauty. In allowing others, finally, to help me bear my splinter, I felt so cared for. Wrapped in love. And, even if only for a little while, my terrible week seemed a lot less terrible.