Most of the posts in this series were written before Grayson was born... but here I am in all of my I-have-a-newborn brain fog and mess... I only have ten days more to write!! I hope I can make it.
Bravery is compassion for myself and for others. It lays down the model of looking at people as either a success or a failure and simply sees people as human. We all struggle. We all need help. There is value and beauty in the struggle. There is value and beauty in sharing the struggle with each other.
My problem is that I tend to want to share my struggle and mess from a safe, sterile, socially acceptable distance. I don't want you to see my mess or lack of my now I want you only to see the mess I was or see what I have overcome not the mess I am currently in.
I don't want to open myself up for judgment because I already bear such a great load of self-judgement that I don't think I can bear any more. I am afraid of my need. I do not want to be perceived as needy or weak. But mutual neediness is helpful. It might not be an I'll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine relationship, but we need to be open both to helping others and to being helped by others. Maybe I am being helped a lot in this season and maybe I will not be able to pay it back, but I can pay it forward.
Positioning myself so that I am only helping others is trying to maneuver my way into a place of superiority. However superiority negates intimacy as superiority makes no room for authenticity, and vulnerability? You can forget about it. It's not gonna happen.
I got a huge lesson in this during Grayson's hospitalization. It was a moment when I needed help, but it was hard for me to ask for it, or even to know what to ask for. So many people offered to help and I continually had to stop myself from saying "no, thanks. It's okay, we've got this." Instead I was sending texts like "we could use some more meals" and "could you bring me lunch?" (because hospital food is totally gross) my friends brought us snacks, they brought my family meals, they offered to watch kids, and to bring milkshakes, they came and sat with me, and they kept their germs to themselves at home (I appreciate both equally) and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each person who sent a text, or Facebook message because I knew that there was a community of people who were there for me when I needed them most.
Maybe from the outside it looked like I handled this gracefully but it didn't feel graceful. It felt like bumbling and stumbling through the fog. A friend of mine set me strait right on the first day that Grayson was in the hospital. She said "if people want to help you, don't you think you should let them?" and that became my motto for the next week. Instead of saying "I'm fine." (or saying I'm an emotional, sleep deprived wreck! I barely know what day it is and I don't know what I need right now) I would try to pause. I would try to put myself in their position and think how they could help in a way that would bless them and help me.
During that week I was really needy, on just about every front. That week I got a front seat, hands-on lesson in asking for and receiving help. And this is what I learned: at the end of the week I felt SO LOVED.
I was so glad that my kids got to see that all of the mundane actions of maintaining friendships and community are so worth it. I want them to remember that their mom was someone who gave and also who received. I think that they have seen that this year, I hope that they remember that as they build their own lives.