Note – occasionally I write posts about my relationship with myself. This is one such post. It’s about my relationship with my Saddlebags. You can search “Saddlebags” to catch the history of these posts, or go here for the entry prior to this one.
I hate undergoing the orthodontic services. I have a past childhood, former adolescence and present adulthood so filled with dental trauma that I know I’ll never get over the all-encompassing fear I face every sixth months of my life. Seriously.
When I was a kid, I had four permanent teeth removed for braces, I had four wisdom teeth removed prior to getting braces (plus a little piece of my jawbone – they had impacted, and having no where else to turn, went downward…into my jaw), cavities galore, more shots than I’ll ever be able to count…I puke when the dentist tries to give me laughing gas. Can you tell I’m serious here? I really, really hate going to the dentist. Now, I’m in the process of getting crowns because of all my cavities and I’m only finished with number three. I have to get seven. I also hate it when people tell me dentist stories…and I’ve just put you through an entire paragraph of mine. Oh my heavenly days – please forgive me! I have a point. Really…
My point is that I fear going to the dentist. I hope that’s clear. But I have realized since last November that I’ve been fearing going to the gym, practically at the same level of intensity…to shake my saddlebags, remember? I mean I really worked myself up on how hard it was going to be to start a workout regimen again, and I had to literally drag myself into the gym the first time. After generating so much lactic acid that I became nauseous and spent some quality time over the toilet, I decided that working out wasn’t just scary – – it was horrific. So horrific that it took me six full days for my muscles to quit aching from the first workout. I recall not being able to sit on the carpet during Thanksgiving because the prospect of getting back up meant moving my legs, arms and abdomen and that would induce pain…Pain! The emergecy orthodontist matter a lot in such cases.
When I’m old and gray (ahem, grayer, that is), I hope to look back on my life and reflect on an abundance of incredible experiences and accomplishments. I’ve prayed my way through 33 1/2 years and God has been faithful to bless me with far more than I deserve. However, this same life has included and will include many more prayers that go unanswered, at least in the way I desire or expect.
If you’re an Okie, you probably remember a time when Garth Brooks was on everyone’s radar. I was never a huge country music fan, but I can sing along with a few little ditties when I hear them. One song that I remember vividly is “Unanswered Prayers.” If you’re not familiar with the song, Garth sings about running into his old high school flame and recalls how hard he prayed for this girl to be his forever. While he is filled with nostalgia at seeing her again, he has gained enough perspective to know that his life worked out in the best way possible despite his one-time efforts to convince God otherwise. He goes on to express his thankfulness for the gifts in his life, including the woman who eventually stole his heart, became his wife and showed him the importance of trusting God at all times.
By the way, when I started writing this blog, I did not remember the controversy with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. So do me a favor and put that bit of information aside so I don’t have to go back to the drawing board on this post, mmmkay? Geez, what is it with people and their inability to stay faithful? But that’s an essay for a different day.
Where was I? Oh yes, the inspirational song. I was touched by the song and have always admired people who are able to easily put issues and events into perspective. I am not one of them. I can remember many times when I didn’t get what I was clearly the most important thing I’d ever asked for in my entire life. Time and time again, I responded with anger and disbelief. In not so many words I said to God, “You said ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ right? Well?????” I shed tears over a great many “must haves” that did not become my reality…..boys, leadership positions, jobs, etc.
About this time of year people start nagging each other to make resolutions and goals for the New Year. Things to start, things to stop, things to do differently. I have been asked a total of 45 times (at the time of writing this post) what my New Years resolution is.
My answer? I don’t have any because I don’t like being a failure. *time passes…*
So, I’ve now asked my friends to tell me anonymously what they think my resolution should be and here are their replies: Of the 13 friends who responded…
8 wrote: Stop losing your cell phone.
Okay, I’ll admit it I lose my cell phone a lot. Weekly, actually, if not more often.
I don’t think it’s my fault. First of all it’s tiny. Second, it always falls out of my pocket and gets wedged between the couch cushions and then the battery dies and I can’t find it via sound location. Third, I just don’t care enough to keep track of it. My cell phone is my only phone.
I have no landline, so most of my friends think it should be attached to my hand at all times in case they need me. I think otherwise. I get hundreds of text messages each day; most of them are useless. If you really need me, you’ll find me. Right? Right. Besides millions of people survived in the times before cell phones and I think I can do it too.
3 wrote: Quit getting hurt.
Um… so if I could stop falling down, tripping, face-planting, sliding, etc. don’t you think I would?! Okay, I probably wouldn’t. I’m a klutz; I get it.
In addition to being a klutz I’m often distracted (mostly by my cell phone, or looking for my cell phone) so I don’t pay attention to things around me. I got a pogo stick yesterday, I don’t envision this cutting down on injuries. One of my closest friends commented: “Joey, who gave you a Pogo stick and what were they thinking?!!!!” Point taken.
I’ve never been that crazy about dogs. But you’d never know this by listening to my parents run through the seemingly endless list of pets my brothers and I had growing up . I don’t remember what happened to most of them, so clearly I wasn’t attached enough to have traumatic memories of their demises. While I have an appreciation for cute little critters, for most of my life I could say that I’d never been head over heels in love with something furry (I could make a joke here about my husband’s back, but…..whoopsie, I guess I just did!).
When Jason and I decided to get a puppy together at about the time we were engaged, my “dog hating” streak ended. Scout, a black and white Springer Spaniel, was the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen but we learned quickly how hard it is to train a puppy. In fact, our puppy experience was more like training for the impending trials of marriage and parenthood. We joke that our marriage preparation course was administered by a 50 pound slobbering baby.
Scout was difficult from the beginning. He scaled the puppy gate, ate Christmas bulbs like candy, and bloodied his paws trying to claw his way out of his kennel. But he was ours and we loved him.
We had Scout for 9 years, during which we welcomed a new home and two new babies. He played with the kids and delighted in daily runs with Jason. Even though he was annoying at times and added a lot of “stink” to our lives, he was a beautiful and loving dog. When he started having seizures and eventually passed away 2 summers ago, Jason and I realized how tied he was to virtually all of our early marriage and new parent memories.
On my 7th or 8th birthday, a sweet little girl named Amy giggled with excitement as my mom announced that it was time for the birthday girl to open gifts. Everyone gathered, tired from what seemed like hours of pony rides across my dad’s farm land, but Amy eagerly planted herself at the front of the pack and requested that I open her gift first. What I wouldn’t know until later was that she had already told my mother all about the gift, and my mother’s anxiety was growing by the second. You see, I already had this particular Smurfs purse, which was carefully tucked away in my dresser at home. Although it was my favorite new treasure, my mom was anticipating a less than stellar reaction to receiving a duplicate. This feeling was tempered only by her hope that I would pull through the awkward moment with a gracious response.
Just for fun, let’s turn this into a multiple choice question. How do you think I responded?
a.) I smiled, thanked Amy for such a thoughtful gift and later discussed exchange options with my mom.
b.) I congratulated Amy on her great taste since I had recently picked out the very same purse.
c.) I absently said, “I already have this” and moved on to the next gift unaware that my friend, deflated, had moved to the back of the pack.
I may not be eligible for an AARP membership yet, but my aching knees recently served as a reminder that I am perched at the top of the proverbial hill just waiting to make my descent down the other side.
My recent awareness of the nuances of getting older has me thinking about the interesting dichotomy of spending our early years desperately wishing to be older and the rest of it longing for time to stop moving so darn quickly.
As a kid, I thought turning 18 meant I was an adult. The reality, however, was that I was still dependent on my parents, didn’t know how to do my own laundry and had to sit at the kid table at Thanksgiving.
At 22, I graduated college and felt like I had the world at my fingertips…until I realized that having a degree doesn’t mean much unless you also have a job. I spent the next year reminding myself to have fun now because I would have the rest of my life to be pinned down to a demanding career. And when I did get that first job, I was referred to as “the young one” for several years before a new “young one” came on board and relieved me of the title.
As some of you now know, I have a complicated relationship with my “Saddlebags.” They seem happy to stick around, and I want them gone. After mustering all my courage to visit the Wellness Center last week, I had to come to terms with the fact that: a) I actually committed to at least twelve one-hour training sessions; and, b) they started this morning.
True to the friendly-no-matter-how-you-slice it persona of the place, I was met with no less than three “good mornings” as I reluctantly entered the Center. Oh, and one, “Good morning, Kelly,” from Joanna who just happened to be getting to work the same time I arrived for my session. I think she secretly staked out the parking lot and entered along with me just to make sure I didn’t turn around and run away. Effective. Verrrry effective, those tactics they employ!
I descended the stairs into the basement level workout room area thinking, “I’m not going to be able to walk back up these stairs when I’m done.” I probably had about twenty more doomsday messages ready to tell myself as I neared the door, but once again, the attendant at the desk distracted me from my fear-based mantras. “Hi,” he said. “Are you here for a session?”
I stared at him for at least two or three seconds thinking, “I could just say no. I could just say, ‘Oh – nah. Just looking around.'” I opened my mouth to answer him, still uncertain of what would come out when a young man with an air of confidence, exuding Physical Fitness walked up and interjected, “Are you Kelly?”
The scene: Our little home on Harding Place, eleven years ago. My muscles were so sore from moving scenery for our Spring musical dress rehearsal I could hardly get out of the car. I had just pulled into the driveway, bringing the girls home from school. So intense were my body aches that I asked the girls to manage dinner. They were 8 and 12 years old; this was an unprecedented request of them and they looked at me like I had suddenly turned into an alien being.
“Uh, okay…” Rachel said, and she turned to Rylee. “Let’s have macaroni and cheese!”
“I love macaroni and cheese!” Rylee responded. And they headed toward the kitchen while I walked into my bedroom. I sighed, took off my shoes, laid down on the bed and waited for Mick to get home. I had tunnel vision from exhaustion and was concentrating very hard on our bedroom window. “Get home. Please…hurry and get here.” I needed an intense rub-down with Icy Hot, some ibuprofen and a nap. I looked at my watch while I listened to the girls in the kitchen. I prayed that there wouldn’t be some sort of accident with the boiling water, and closed my eyes.
A few minutes later I heard the truck pull into our driveway. I was completely immersed in self-centered thought as I counted the seconds until he opened the front door. I heard him come in, say something to the girls and hear their report of, “Mom needs to talk to you.” I saw Mick’s shadow on the wall as he walked into the bedroom, but I didn’t turn around to face him. Instead I said, “Can you please go get the Icy Hot and work on my back and shoulders? They’re killing me; I need some help.”
When he returned to begin his task I closed my eyes and winced. It takes a while until muscles are worked enough to where they can relax and respond to the treatment. Somewhere in-between “excruciating” and “sore,” I noticed Mick’s hands and arms were shaking. Surprised, I asked him about it. He said, “Well, we had to move three aisles of inventory in the warehouse today, all by hand. I worked almost three hours overtime in order to finish the job, and I’m really tired.”
I began to cry. I asked him to stop, and to lay down beside me. I said, “Let’s rest a while together. By the time we’ve got a little energy back, the girls will have dinner ready.” I had been so focused on my own needs I hadn’t even assessed where my husband was. Our universes had intersected with mutually difficult and physically taxing days that had put both of us over our ability-to-manage threshold. Yet he was willing to help ease my pain without even disclosing what he had just experienced.
A few years later I was reading a book called, “Constructing the Sexual Crucible: An Integration of Sexual and Marital Therapy,” by David M. Schnarch. As I turned through the pages, I thought back to that time when Mick’s arms were shaking from fatigue. Although written about providing therapy for clients with sexual problems, the premise of the book was that a couple is initially immature and “unspiritual” in their relationship, but at some point grows mature and “spiritual;” they pass into a vulnerable and ‘other centered’ relationship that becomes so deep a mystery is revealed – the mystery of what it means to be intimate with one another, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually.
He quotes Sebastian Moore (1985) frequently when talking about this shift into a deeper intimacy. I love the passage so much that I’m going to end this post with Moore’s words. All the best to you as you find those moments of self-exposure, interdependence, hope and spirituality with those you love…~ Red Dirt Kelly
…Desire reveals its true nature when it comes into the moment of decision, either for the new initiate of self-exposure that makes possible interdependence, or for the cowardice that overshadows our society. Love is ‘desire, decided for.’ (emphasis added)
…Desire is most nearly itself when, asserting my own goodness which is its source, I pass from dependence to interdependence whose soul is hope. Then is desire most itself, so then am I most drawn – no longer by the obvious charm of another, but by the mystery that brings us together enlarging that desire into hope. (Moore, 1985, p. 30)
Moore, S. (1985). Let this mind be in you: The quest for identity through Oedipus to Christ. New York: Harper & Row.
In casual conversation, I am likely to mention treatment options for Kate, Bowen, or Jessie, or how the Stone family is doing these days. What you won’t know, however, is that I don’t actually KNOW these people, at least in the traditional sense. You see, I follow blogs…lots of them.
Most of my favorite blogs were created in times of tragedy or in response to a medical crisis. I often have to steel myself to click the links, as these posts certainly aren’t mindless reads. My heart seizes at the news of an agonizing decision to be made and I regularly shed tears over the unfathomable experiences of these families. They are desperately reaching out for help and support, and I find myself magnetically drawn to them.
Some find my hobby a bit morbid and wonder why I torture myself by actively taking on the pain and grief of strangers. While the subject matter is indeed difficult, the rewards are many. First, however, I have to get past being a selfish human. Just like many children create imaginary friends who have problems – fear of the dark, aggression, etc. – as a safe way to talk about newfound issues, I think reading about the sad and tragic side of life helps me process emotions about my own worst fears. However, in acknowledging the really hard realities of life, I sometimes develop the “I’m glad it’s them and not me” syndrome. I have to squelch those thoughts so that I can focus on the people and their needs, and not just the fears their stories evoke.
As a result, I can attest to the tremendous beauty and inspiration that often rises from the ashes of tragedy and helplessness. I am refreshed by the way in which I can touch and be touched by people’s hearts across so much distance. The written word is incredibly honest, heartfelt, and the authors are completely transparent. In a world where the truth is often buried beneath layers of you know what, reading something so raw and heartfelt is meaningful.
When I stop the whirlwind of life to catch up on these families, I feel a renewed sense of faith in humanity. I admire the strength that resonates from their words and I deeply hope that I would have equal fortitude in their shoes. As strong as they are, they are also at their most vulnerable, and this allows them to put on paper the thoughts that most people could never speak. I think this is a strong connection point for me personally given that I’ve always been better at expressing myself in writing than in face-to-face conversations.
Part of that ability is simply dissociating from what the world expects me to be or say, and simply writing what I feel without the risk of immediate and sometimes awkward reactions. I love real, but being entirely real is usually the exception and not the rule.
Finally, in addition to the gift of inspiration I receive from these blogs, they also provide me the opportunity to give back in a profound way. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t heal the sick. I’m not a millionaire, so I can’t offer riches to fund medical treatments. However, as a woman of faith, I can add my voice to those interceding on behalf of precious families who need guidance, hope, and strength beyond what they can muster on their own. I believe firmly in the power of prayer and that giving away my heart and prayers, whether to close friends or virtual strangers, simply expands my capacity to do so over and over again.
It’s only fitting that I include information on a few of my favorite blogs, and I encourage you to post a comment with additional links. There’s nothing like a shared bowl of chicken soup to warm us all up!
http://renziandleeannestone.blogspot.com/ – Oklahoma City couple Lee Anne and Renzi Stone lost their almost one year old son to a sudden epileptic seizure. They honor little Isaiah by sharing their daily challenges and joys.
http://www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com/ – Angie is the wife of Selah singer Todd Smith. While expecting, Todd and Angie were told their daughter had many life threatening conditions and would not survive outside the womb. Her book, “I Will Carry You,” details their experience and utter reliance on God to make it through to the other side.
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mcraekate – Kate McRae is a six-year-old Arizona girl living with a very rare form of brain cancer. Her mother writes regularly about treatment options, highs and lows, and specific prayer requests.
http://www.carepages.com/carepages/JessicaBoone – Oklahoma teenager Jessie Boone suffered massive head trauma during a ski accident last year. Her mother chronicles the numerous touch-and-go moments, months in hospitals and Jessie’s current journey.
http://www.kellyskornerblog.com/ – Kelly is an Arkansas gal who began writing when doctors said her newborn wasn’t expected to live. After a difficult beginning, she now has a healthy and happy daughter and another on the way. Having also suffered infertility for many years, she is an inspiration to those women desperately hoping for a baby.
http://bowensheart.com/ – Matt Hammett is the lead singer of the Christian band Sanctus Real. Their son, Bowen, has a severely underdeveloped heart. They are journaling their experience and sharing the love of God through their words and stories.
This relatively innocuous statement actually has the power to evoke pride, guilt, judgment and even jealousy depending upon who’s in the conversation and their bias about what’s “right” for children, and society. But what’s right for the moms?
Of all discussion topics, working vs. staying home gets the most play among my group of friends. Some of us have full-time jobs and some have forgone a career to raise children. Some need two incomes to get by, while others simply can’t imagine life without a career. Some who stay home have realized that working is actually more expensive than not, given the high cost of childcare. Regardless of the situation and our level of satisfaction with it, we all agree that there is no single “right” answer, as we are all faced with a different set of circumstances that impact our decisions on the issue. However, no matter how satisfied we are with those decisions, we sometimes find ourselves peering over the fence to see if the grass truly is a deeper shade of green.
Even moms who count their blessings about being able to stay home with their children sometimes long for the adult conversations they remember having when they were working. As one friend says, “When you start to discuss your problems with a toddler-sized plush SpongeBob doll, you know you need some time with grown-ups!” I’ve had moms admire my shoes and comment longingly that they could never justify the purchase given the few places they would have to wear something so dressy. Others feel they have no break from their children – as precious as they are – and battle conflicting expectations when their husband arrives home from his own long day at the office. But these may very well be good tradeoffs for the ability to share all of life’s important and teachable moments.
On the flip side, working moms are often overwhelmed with guilt about the time they spend away from their kids. I’ve always been career-minded and relatively confident in my ability to have it all in life. But, even though I often don a super hero cape, I also have some pretty powerful kryptonite. Looking down at those little people in my life makes everything go just a bit hazy.
At work, I find myself drawn to various pictures of my smiling kids. I wonder if they’ve had a healthy lunch, whether they’re watching Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, if Nolan’s had a good “pee pee in the potty” day, and whether Bailey’s loose tooth is still hanging on by a thread. I feel anxious. I guiltily remind my mother-in-law about the soccer practice that begins before I’m even supposed to clock out for the day. And I miss them.
All that would be fine if the culmination of my day wasn’t hearing Nolan burst into tears and state emphatically that he doesn’t want to leave grandma’s house with me. Bailey sends her own message by ignoring me altogether. In these moments, when I’m kidnapping my own children from their grandparents’ house, I feel unsettled, disconnected, and a little like I’m watching my life go by from behind a pane of glass rather than out living it. I’m jealous…jealous of my friends who don’t HAVE to work and surely aren’t subject to the sadness I feel at this repeat, albeit momentary, rejection. I’m jealous that they get all day to reinforce bonds, while I’m trying to force that into the 60 minutes between dance class and bedtime.
These are the moments when the fantasies of quitting my job and becoming an at-home mom take over. I imagine myself going on all kinds of daily adventures – to the zoo, the park, and museums – while organizing play dates, catching up on scrapbooks, teaching the kids a foreign language, and sewing their winter wardrobe. We won’t go into the holes in my fantasy, but let’s just say the likelihood of me actually doing all these things is iffy at best and I stopped just short of adding to the list “make my own soap.” Hey, it’s my fantasy and I’m sticking to it.
But it’s not all bad. In fact, when I stop to remember that life isn’t all about me (what??), there are some really great benefits to my kids of being a working mom.
First and foremost, they have an amazing relationship with their grandparents that they likely wouldn’t have if I stayed home. Having more than just mom and dad to teach, reinforce, and love is an incredible blessing. In rational moments, I’m glad to endure some hard mommy moments in exchange for the wealth of experiences and memories made with their grandparents.
As much as I enjoy the work I do, my kids are really proud of me, too. When we’re having our “what happened today” conversations, I get to tell Bailey about all the babies and children who have the benefit of two loving parents in their lives because of the work my company does. The pride she feels and the fact that I’m modeling for her what I preach – that she can do anything and be anything – is enough to give guilt a high-heeled kick in the pants!
So, do these benefits outweigh the disadvantages? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, nor would my answer be the same tomorrow as it is today. What I DO know is that I have two great kids who will never want for love, guidance, or the discipline and boundaries they need to grow into the kind of adults I want them to become. And that makes my heart happier than any amount of time with them could.
But, just in case I happen to win the lottery one day, I bookmarked some You Tube videos on making soap at home. I’m just sayin’….
If you’ve never heard of Stuart Smalley, you were either living under a rock in the early 90’s or are too young to be using the Internet without adult supervision. As a teenager, nothing could trigger hysterical laughter like the hapless yet hopeful SNL character. Every skit ended with emotionally vulnerable Stuart speaking affirmations into a mirror in efforts to make it through another day breakdown-free.
Stuart struggled with poor self-esteem, an issue I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. With the ongoing debate over too-skinny models in the fashion industry and movies and television depicting unattainable images as the standard of womanhood, it’s no wonder many women feel they can’t quite measure up. What I learned recently, however, is how early these messages start chiseling away at us. My daughter is six and, like many children, has always possessed the kind of confidence that seems to burst forth from her in every word and action. Take a look at this video that’s been making the rounds and you’ll see just what I’m talking about! (click photo to activate video)
Like little Jessica, my daughter has never hesitated to claim being the smartest in her grade and insists on tackling tasks far outside her skill set. Recently, though, I’ve noticed some changes in the way she views herself. When she can’t read a word, she reacts as though she might as well kiss her higher education hopes goodbye. She has even started comparing her body with others, often telling me that she’s “fatter” than the other girls. While this is uncharted parent territory, I do remember my own struggles with self-esteem as a child and teenager and I know how hard it was. Just ask my mom about the year I ate only Ramen noodles and my hair started falling out as a result of my quest to be skinny (and no, I never got skinny ENOUGH, whatever that means). Simply put, we tend to make unwise decisions when we start to devalue ourselves and this can have potentially devastating consequences, particularly for young girls.
Many of you probably remember being as bold as Jessica as a child, declaring your many talents to anyone who would listen. But as you got older, “bragging” became less acceptable and was replaced with the daunting task of being humble. Don’t get me wrong, humility is important and I certainly want to instill that value in my children. I also feel that there’s a fine line between being confident and being self absorbed. However, in the journey down the well-intentioned path of humility, I think some of us missed a turn and ended up on a detour of self loathing. And we’ve stayed there under the false pretense of modesty.
My wish is for my daughter to feel MORE THAN good enough and to know that it’s okay to cheer for herself at the same time she’s cheering for others. I want her to celebrate all the traits that make her unique and special. Otherwise, the opinions or unkind words of others may become her measure of success, beauty and worth. While I don’t have all the parenting answers, I have chosen to spend more time lately dialoguing about what she likes about herself and what makes her feel special.
More than anything through pondering this issue, I’ve realized that the way I feel about myself today will have a profound impact on how she feels about herself in the future. As much as I say and do all the right things where she is concerned, many days I don’t speak to or about myself very well. How can my daughter learn to believe in and love herself if her mother doesn’t practice what she preaches?
Knowing that she’s watching and listening is the strongest motivator for change. Just don’t expect a reenactment of Jessica’s video to be up on You Tube any time soon, as the bathroom cabinet probably can’t hold my weight.
Thank you for all the positive feedback on my first post. Here we go again, folks!
“ME DO IT MYSELF, MOMMA!”
I hear this statement from my 2 year old multiple times every day. Whatever the activity – wrestling with his shoes as we’re hurrying out the door, opening a carton of applesauce at dinner, or brushing his pearly whites before bed – it’s the same old song and dance.When I’m in a hurry and desperately trying to meet whatever deadline is looming, I am frustrated by the seemingly silly process of letting him attempt a task that I know good and well will end in tears of frustration. Why doesn’t he just let me help?
Even though this independence comes with the toddler territory, I’m just as guilty of possessing the “Me do it myself!” mentality. I don’t need anyone’s help because I can handle it. In fact, I will reject every offer of help – politely, of course – even if I truly desire the support. An example:
Some really thoughtful person says, “I’ll watch the kids if you guys wanna go to a movie sometime.”
I think, Awesome, we sooooo need it! When are you free? There’s a movie I’ve been dying to see that’s playing this weekend. Oh, and maybe we could even grab a bite to eat beforehand!
But I actually say, “Oh, that’s so sweet. We’re usually so busy during the week that we just like to do stuff around the house on weekends. Plus, ya know, we have Netflix. Soooo, how’s that project you’ve been working on?”
In contrast to my own actions, I know quite a bit about the importance of establishing a personal community to support someone during both good and bad times. Further, we’ve all heard that African proverb about how it takes a village to raise a child.
To my knowledge, there’s no proverb that warns against accepting an outstretched hand or advises braving the journey alone at all costs. If assistance from others is a necessary piece of life’s puzzle, why is it so difficult to accept goodwill? This is an especially intriguing question when compared to how easily most of us reach out to others when we know THEY need something we can easily provide. So, why the paradox?
Maybe receiving assistance is perceived as weakness. Perhaps we worry that the offer is not genuine and acceptance will be met with awkwardness or hardship. Or maybe we are simply unsure how to adequately show our appreciation, so avoidance seems far easier. I don’t know about you, but I claim all of the above.
I recently heard someone equate acts of service to gifts received at a birthday party. A gift is a gift, regardless of its form. And, it is almost always given with love and careful thought behind it.
When the package is opened, the only acceptable response is “thank you.” The recipient wouldn’t return the present with an eloquent speech about not needing the item for this reason or that, so how is it any better to decline the gift of support when it is offered with the very same sentiment? This way of viewing the issue makes me feel badly about all those times I’ve said no to others. In reality, I deprived them of an important opportunity to share something meaningful with me. In fact, they probably thought the very same thing I do when my son displays his stubbornness…..why won’t she just let me help, for goodness sake?
So, I know what I have to do. I have to start saying YES.
Need help with the kids? YES! Can I carry that box for you? Sure!
Will you join me? Just Say Yes. Actually, it feels kind of good.
Mrs. Reagan, I do believe there’s a new motto in town.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.