The other night, on my way somewhere, I found The Choice on CBC on my satellite radio. This is some kind of a rerun show, where listeners or radio people can request a replay of some great favorite show of theirs.
This episode featured Margaret Visser, who has a new book out about gratitude. She was talking about how gratitude is expressed in different cultures, and about the trickiness of the whole gratitude thing. It was fascinating stuff (and you can hear it on itunes by searching for "CBC Listener's Choice" and looking for the Sept. 18 2009 episode) and I haven't been able to shake it since then. It's given me a lot to think about.
One of the things this strangely-spoken woman said was "Give and Let Give." Wow, easier said than done, right? If you're like me, the Give part is easy- it's the LET Give that is hard.
I thought of how often I've been asked by someone at work "can I help you with that? Anything I can do to help? Want me to do anything?" and my response is always an instant "oh no, I'm all set!" It's almost like a reflex- I don't even think about how this person could help me, and I'm somehow ashamed for them even thinking that I might want to trouble them, ask them to do something that I should be doing.
But on the other side of this, I am often the one asking that question. Is there anything I can do to help? And here's the kicker: when I offer to help, it's because I want to help!
My Mom recently told me that she was struggling because she needed grocery shopping done, and didn't want to call someone to drive her to the store. I reminded her that she had a list of people who had offered to do that very thing while my Dad was recovering from his recent knee surgery (he's doing great, by the way!). She said "well we can't ask people to do things every day." But the more I think about it, the more I think she's wrong about that. I think people who offer to help would love nothing better than be taken up on that offer. We all like to be helpful, to be needed, to feel like we have aided someone in need.
But if it's my reflex to deny the little offers of help that come every day, like an offer to help me clean up a kitchen, or move a table, or assemble home kits for the church, how am I going to develop any ability to graciously accept help when I really need it? And especially with church, I think it's probably important to let people help- it reminds me of the pastor in Kansas who tells his staff that if we are not asking people to serve at the parish, we are getting in the way of the Spirit for these people. I bet the Spirit can work through even assembling kits and moving tables- how, I don't know- but God is God and I am not.
So I'm going to practice. The next time someone offers to give me a hand with something, even if I don't need their help, technically, I'm going to look for a way to let them help me. Who wants to help?