The week that Brenna was born was the week before Christmas, and I had been wrapping up my busiest year for my photography business. With a few days to go before the holiday, I had orders sitting in my studio that needed delivering to my clients, and despite all of the unknown that our family was experiencing with Brenna’s diagnosis, I wanted to make sure those orders were delivered because I knew some of them were Christmas gifts.
So when a few family friends asked what they could do for me, I sent them out with my photography deliveries.
For the first time, I gratefully accepted the help offered to me in the form of “what can I do for you?” And it was such a blessing and so freeing.
I read something once that completely altered my view of accepting and asking for help. The basic premise was this: people truly want to help, and by rejecting their offers and desire to aid you in a time of need, you are doing a huge disservice to not only yourself but to them as well. Accepting help is actually giving others the gift of being able to take action and show love to you when they might otherwise feel helpless.
For whatever reason, it seems to be a natural inclination to turn down an offer of assistance. Maybe we don’t want to inconvenience anyone or burden anyone with our personal problems, but we tend to answer those offers with “oh thank you, but I’m fine,” even when we aren’t fine. But I have been on both sides of helping – and I will attest that it IS a tremendous gift, both to be helped and to provide help.
Whenever I receive a message from a fellow mom who has just been given a diagnosis, is dealing with a child’s severe health issues, or is otherwise struggling, the topic that often comes up is how to get through this, how to cope. My overarching answer is: let others help you.
Learning how to accept help when Brenna was born was life-altering for me.
I said yes to meals, for months. When a friend was at the grocery store and asked if we needed anything, I sent her a short list. When my cousin said she wanted to come help at our house, I told her our closets could really use some TLC. When a church group wanted to send us a care package, I told them that having some healthy snacks for the hospital would be fantastic.
I knew that season where I really needed a lot of help wouldn’t last forever, and it hasn’t. We’ve learned a lot over the last four years, and life has gotten much easier than those first few months. But we still have seasons of needing help, like unexpected hospitalizations, and now when family and friends offer help, I accept gratefully. I know they truly mean it, and I truly need it.
This past summer, I went to visit my best friend at the hospital when her own precious baby stayed three long months in the NICU. I told her I would bring coffee, and she told me “I’ll just have whatever you’re having!”
“No,” I told her, “stop being polite and tell me what you want.”And she finally admitted that she was craving a chai tea.
We both got what we wanted – our visit to the hospital and having her drink of choice delivered was a pick-me-up during a stressful time for her, and she gave me a gift by allowing me to do that for her.
When we can learn how to accept help from others, we are giving not only a gift to ourselves, but also a gift to those around us who want to show us love in a tangible and meaningful way.
This post was originally posted at blessedbybrenna.com on 12/15/15.
Courtney Westlake is wife to Evan and mother to Connor (6) and Brenna (4). She is a writer, author and photographer, and chronicles family life after Brenna was born with a severe skin disorder on her blog Blessed by Brenna. Courtney is also the author of the upcoming book A Different Beautiful, released August 2016. You can also find Courtney on Instagram and Facebook.