I don’t know what I’d do without you.

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Today I am writing about a subject that I think I wrote about not too long ago. However, an incident in Ray’s and my lives has brought the lesson home to me again, as you will see a few paragraphs down.

Accepting the help of others is a great way to show them that they are valuable to you. Two groups who often miss out on the joy of helping are older people and little children. Opportunities to help others help us to feel useful. For an older adult who has always been a valuable contributor to the lives of others, “I don’t need your help” is one of the hardest things to hear. Likewise, children need to know that their help is more than simply obeying a direction to do a certain chore. They need to know that what they do is genuinely a help to those they love.

When I was a young mother in my twenties, my beloved mentor Cora Beal Shields offered to help me. When I hesitated, she told me kindly that the only way people can help others is if others will allow them to do so. Many times we refuse helpful offers out of genuine concern for the other person. We really don’t want to bother them. However, when we don’t allow others to help, we can unwittingly send messages that hurt the person offering to help us, messages such as:

  • “You’re too little. You’ll mess it up.”
  • “You’re too old. I can do it faster.”
  • “I don’t think you would do a good enough job.”
  • “I don’t need you.”

As we wait for Ray’s heart surgery in April, he is completely able to take care of himself, and he is supposed to take a gentle walk every day. However, our roles have changed temporarily. Doctors have advised him not to do anything that requires exertion and also to have no church responsibilities at all.

In the driver’s seat—temporarily

Last weekend we traveled out of town for a family gathering with our children and grandchildren. It was necessary for me to do all of the driving and to do all of the lifting of suitcases, etc. On this trip, I was the one who got the luggage cart at the hotel, unloaded the luggage onto it, pushed it to the room, unloaded it there, and returned the cart to the lobby. These are jobs we usually share.  As I was loading the cart for us to leave the hotel on Monday, I thought about how all of this must make Ray feel. I told him, “My doing these things does not mean that I don’t need you. I do need you very much. I’m doing these things now so that you can do them later.”

Ray is still able to help in many ways. Now, when we drive down the road, he’s the one initiating texts and answering them for me. He’s the one navigating our routes, answering the phone, pulling out snacks, opening my drinks, and such. Another way he helps is by saying, “Thank you” again and again.

Sometimes our roles change permanently, and sometimes they change only for a season. What is crucial is that every person has a role, a role that is applauded and appreciated. One way to say, “I love you,” is to say, “Could you help me please?” and “Thank you very much. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

For just as we have many members in one body
and all the members do not have the same function, 
so we, who are many, are one body in Christ,
and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:4-5

But now there are many members, but one body. 
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”;
or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body
which seem to be weaker are necessary; 
and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, 
on these we bestow more abundant honor,
and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 
whereas our more presentable members have no need of it.
But God has so composed the body,
giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the members may have the same care for one another. 
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it;
if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1 Corinthians 12:20-26

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