Below is my guest blog on the website Perfectly redeemed on the fruit of the spirit love. It was an honor to write for a group that focuses on God’s goodness when among trials and suffering.
Accepting help is hard for me. I argued that it had nothing to do with being too prideful or stubborn, but that argument stopped the day my four-year old son decided my job as a helpful mother was not necessary. Opening the car door, putting his shoes on, brushing his teeth, getting dressed…no help needed, Mom! In my head, I constantly echoed the following words: This child is SO STUBBORN!
And then I saw it.
I saw myself, right in the soul of a four-year old.
My main complaint with accepting help, among many, is the need to return the favor, which I don’t think is the issue with my four-year old! He is just stubborn! Life can become crazy and sometimes I am not as diligent as I know I should be. It puts knots in my stomach knowing I haven’t written a thank you note fast enough or acknowledged the special card from a friend or returned a play date. It feels like I fail every time.
However, three years ago my acceptance was challenged and changed. I saw and understood help displayed in a way that could only be love. I saw what could happen when your life is turned to no answers or hope and a community surrounds you with love that can only come from above.
That challenge came the first few days after my husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. People wanted to take our kids to school, babysit them, clean our house, cook us food and this was all before we even saw the doctor! Our front porch became a receiver. A good one too! We could never answer the door fast enough. The giver gone, but an act of love remained. Whether it was flowers, gift cards, books, picture frames, crosses…someone had thought of our family and wanted to show their love.
No name, no card…just a gift.
I remember one time spending days trying to track the giver of a beautifully hand-woven monogrammed pillow. I gave all my friends the third degree, asked neighbors if they saw anyone drive by, challenged my kids and was ready to hire Dateline….nothing! So, to say I was challenged was an understatement. I more so turned into a private investigator because I was determined to find out who these givers of love were! Why? Because I wanted to thank them in some way! I wanted to give back just like they had given to me.
David, my husband, had an even harder time than me. As a father, husband, physician in the community and man, he did not want anyone to think we needed anything. Sometimes he would just flat out refuse. Much like our four-year old, he also had some stubbornness and pride in there! He also had the excuse of no filter given his frontal lobe brain tumor.
One night a neighbor brought dinner and David basically said, “Please no more. You all are doing too much! We can not accept this. Do this for your families, not ours. ” All that hard work and love put into dinner and I remember the neighbor’s face looking so sad. I got upset that night at David and called the friend a million times to apologize.
I, at the time, had been running around like crazy trying to keep life as simple and normal for my two kids given the changes in David’s health. I released my want to constantly repay the favor and started to simply accept the generosity of my community . I stopped searching for the names of those so generously helping us and started just praying that God would somehow let each person know our overwhelming amount of gratitude. I finally thought I got it!
But, you see……I still didn’t get it.
One day a close friend of ours sat both David and me down and said we need to talk. You know that is never good. His question…why are your refusing the love that comes from God? Silence….. and shock on our end. Our response? We have no idea what you are talking about! What do you mean refusing? We aren’t refusing anything! We are all open arms for God to heal David.
But, is that the only way you see God’s love, Dana? For him to heal David?
Wowzers ( my new favorite word).
As I thought about it…..yes! That is the way I saw God’s love. For Him to fix this situation! To make it better! Newsflash! You see, I was too worried about what God should do, instead of seeing what God was already doing.
He was carrying us through.
How? Through His people, through the dinners, through the gift cards, through the babysitting, through every need He knew we needed. Not only was our refusal a denial to God’s love, but also our prayers. I was still praying people would know our appreciation. I was more worried the giver’s would know our thanks than thanking the ULTIMATE giver….God.
Our hearts changed at that moment. We not only accepted the help with gratitude, but we thanked God for it daily! We saw God and not the people. When there was abundance, we anonymously gave it on to other families. Our purpose? That like us they would not see the giver of the gift, but instead they would see the the Ultimate Giver of Love…..God.
Now… now my husband sits with all the fruits of the Spirit in perfection as he is with his maker. His heart was humbled that last year and he became a man who saw nothing but Christ. On October 26th of this year he will celebrate his first birthday in heaven. Me, I could not have managed this last year on my own as a single parent with out the love of the Spirit in others. The more I open my arms to it, the more I see God carrying me through it.
Love is a feeling, but most importantly love is an action. It is meant to be given and it is meant to be received. The author and perfecter of love is God. When we accept that, our hearts change and the Spirit can work in us so that other’s see not us, but what’s meant to be seen…..God.
1. Open your eyes and heart and acknowledge and accept the ways God is carrying you through this season of life. Not only accept it, thank him for it! Write them down.
2. Allow the Spirit to work in you and show love to someone who may be experiencing a season of suffering
3. Be anonymous in your giving. Allow someone to see God instead of you!
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