Preoccupied by my thoughts, I sighed and absentmindedly began to clear the table. My garden was nearly ready to be tilled, but how was I going to get the tiller to start? I needed help but absolutely did not want to ask for help. Setting the stack of dishes and silverware on the counter next to the sink, I sighed again.
My daughter Tammie was standing at the kitchen counter mixing cake batter. She glanced over at me and setting down the hand mixer, questioned, “What’s wrong Mom? You’ve been sighing.”
I reluctantly admitted, “It’s time to till the garden and I know from experience that I can’t pull the starter cord fast and hard enough to make the engine turn over.”
Pulling a cake pan closer to the mixing bowl, Tammie advised, “List the people you could call for help. Decide which one you feel the most comfortable approaching. Then give that person a call and ask.”
With hands on my hips, I scoffed, “You’re a fine one to be giving advice on how to ask for help! You are completely stubborn about getting help. You’ve even admitted to me that you don’t want people to think you are weak and pitifully handicapped.”
Picking up a spatula, Tammie scrapped the cake batter into the pan as she defensively pointed out, “Some people only see me as a short-armed individual. I want everyone to see how many things I am capable of doing. Some things, like not being able to reach something on a high shelf are just physically impossible. But my not being able to do that, doesn’t define who I am!”
“So,” I asked skeptically, “if you were shopping and wanted something from a top shelf, you’d ask for help?” Folding my arms in front of myself, I leaned against the sink and asked, “Do you remember grocery shopping one evening a few years ago? We were talking on the phone at the time. You wanted a certain cereal box from the top shelf, but instead of looking for help, you looked around and spotted a display with brooms for sale, so you took one and used it to bat the desired cereal down for yourself.”
Turning to place the cake batter in the oven, Tammie proudly pointed out, “I’m extremely resourceful.”
Sighing again, I complained, “There is no way to be resourceful about getting my tiller to start. I just wish a neighbor would randomly drop by our house and ask, ‘Do you need help getting your tiller started?’ I don’t like being the pitiful widow who always begs for help with things!”
For the past week I’d been preparing my garden. I’d dug out and potted the plants I wanted to save, spread maple tree leaves for soil enhancement and chopped down some early weeds. The next step was to till the soil.
A conversation I had with my older daughter after her husband died came to mind. She’d said to me, “Everybody has been helping me. I’m grateful for the help, but it’s hard for me to have my friends doing this.”
Feeling her pain, I blurted out words that I am now sure were put into my mouth by God, “People who help those in need are blessed for what they do, but the grace given out doesn’t just go to the helpers. It also goes to the one accepting the help. The Lord wants us to learn how to gracefully accept help, even if it is hard and painful.
I pushed aside all my misgivings and biked to a neighbor’s house. The husband in that household was very gracious about coming to help me.
Under the neighbor man’s management, the tiller started easily. I was glad it didn’t give him a lot of bother, but at the same time felt embarrassed that I couldn’t have managed the job myself!
For the next hour as I tilled the soil, I meditated on how much I liked helping people, but how hard I found it to both ask for and to accept help. Peace and acceptance settled on my spirit as I recognized all the graces gained that afternoon not only by my neighbor, but for myself.