Before you begin this blog, please answer the following questions (to yourself, or out loud if you like that kind of attention):
1. Would you consider yourself a ‘perfectionist’?
2. Have you ever been accused of being an over-achiever?
3. Are you one of those people that says “I’m fine!” in response to everything?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, this blog is for you! If you answered ‘no’, the truth is that you probably love someone who answered ‘yes’ to those questions.
We all know someone like that – that person who is the first to volunteer, the first on the scene, the one that likes to do everything and can’t say ‘no’ to anything.
I certainly know that kind of person because, well, I am that kind of person. My identity is so rooted in helping other people, that I made a profession out of it. I love helping other people, and if I catch anyone trying to help me, I do 1 of 3 things:
1. Fall over myself saying “thank you” enough times that the phrase loses meaning.
2. Immediately look for ways to give back to that person, lest I be in stuck in some kind of giving deficit (aka The Helper’s nightmare).
3. Deny the person’s help, claiming that “I’ve got it! I’m fine! No really! I’M FINE!”
And I will choose no. 3 even if it means I have to dislocate a shoulder carrying that extra H-E-B bag that I refused to let someone carry for me.
It’s kind of a problem.
It’s a problem for several reasons: It means I wear myself out unnecessarily; I let pride get in the way of letting others serve; I struggle with collaborating effectively because I want to do all of the work myself; and it makes loving me a one-way street.
As I’m sure you know, lovely blogging audience, that love is a two-way street. Love is both giving and receiving. But for this perfectionist, that becomes difficult when letting someone love me means letting my weaknesses show and accepting their help and care.
This reality was highlighted for me a week ago when I found myself really struggling with insomnia as I am wont to do. As I sat up in bed writing or Pinteresting or something equally unhelpful, I received a text from someone close to me saying they were praying for me. Not only were they praying for me, they were praying two rosaries for me, back to back. TWO rosaries. For ME, the Wonder Kid Who Doesn’t Need Help.
My first reaction was to get indignant and frustrated with them. What were they doing helping me? Didn’t they know that I could take care of myself? Didn’t they know that I was JUST FINE REALLY?
(I realize this was not a rational reaction, but a rational creature I do not claim to be.)
I wanted to tell them to pray those rosaries for someone else, or to tell them that I was going to pray THREE rosaries for them, so ha! Luckily before I could type any such thing, I realized that what I was doing was blocking grace. Here was someone I love sacrificing their time to pray for me, that I may get to sleep and be healed from the anxiety, and I was trying to prevent them. I was refusing their love. Not only that, but I was refusing the grace God was trying to give me! I was saying that I didn’t need that love or grace, when nothing could be further from the truth!
The truth is, we all need love. We all need help. Accepting this reality means letting go of our pride, and letting down our guard to embrace the truth of our vulnerability and dependency. It means letting our weaknesses show. This is no walk in the park, but it is essential to being in loving, healthy relationships. It is also essential in learning how to trust, how to hope and how to love. If we truly hope in God’s promise, we have to practice letting help in, walking in faith and trusting in the love surrounding us.
It’s something to add to my “Needs Improvement” list. Hey, I’m still a perfectionist, remember?
As I wrap up this blog. I’d like to end with a song by Glen Hansard titled “Song of Good Hope”. As we continue through this Easter Season, may we remember to let love in, even if it means being vulnerable enough to admit we need it.
“If we’re gonna make it
Cross this river alive,
You better think like a boat,
And go with the tide,
And I’ve known where you’ve been
Has really left you in doubt,
Of ever finding a harbor,
Of figuring this out,
And you’re gonna need, all the help you can get,
So lift up your arms now, and reach for it,
Reach for it…
And take your time babe,
It’s not as bad as it seems,
You’ll be fine babe,
It’s just some rivers and streams,
In between, you and where you want to be,
Watch the signs now,
You’ll know what they mean,
You’ll be fine now,
Just stay close to me,
And may good hope, walk with you through everything.”