I love helping people, whether it’s a friend who needs a last minute play date or volunteering with my favorite organization. I almost always say yes to help when someone needs it. BUT, being on the other end of the help offer has always been hard. I like to do things on my own timeline, the way that I like them done.
Everything changed this fall when a sudden onset of health issues shut me down. At first I handled things okay. I could plan my meals around when I’d need to leave the house and continue on pretty normally. Sure, I was tired and very uncomfortable, but I was still getting stuff done.
Then, my body cashed in the sick chips. We’ve all seen the “moms don’t get sick days” commercials. Turns out, we do, if we get sick enough. After debilitating bouts of constant sickness, I ended up totally losing my ability to walk, a lovely side effect.
About the time I couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds, I knew it was time to open up to some close friends about how dire my situation had become. My husband’s boss was incredible about letting him flex his schedule and work from home when he needed to. My parents were amazing with helping take care of our daughter and making regular grocery drop offs so nobody went hungry. My out-of-state in-laws even sent a meal subscription and other thoughtful gifts to make my days easier.
Then, some of the sweetest women in the world set up a meal train for me. Now, I’ve contributed to many “new baby” meal trains in the past, but I never fully understood the joy that a meal can provide when you’re in a dark place. The kindness and care is something we’ll never forget, from homemade meals to deliveries from our favorite restaurants and from Halloween decorations to dessert.
Saying YES to help was so hard at first. I resisted as long as possible. But as I began to let people into our lives, I saw the relief it brought my sweet family. My husband looked just a little less stressed. He had a break from worrying about the details of dinner prep and could focus on having fun with our daughter. Our sweet little girl was overjoyed when her friends and their moms dropped off food. Her latest phrase is “people are SO generous!”
Even though I couldn’t usually get out of bed, every ring of the doorbell and text began to feel like a great big hug. We always knew we were lucky to have a wonderful community of friends and family, but accepting help really highlighted our blessings. Despite a scary diagnosis, saying YES to help showed us how much we have to be thankful for this year.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. There’s a Chinese saying:
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
It’s not a new idea that helping others can bring you happiness. Next time you’re struggling, whether it’s the difficulty of illness or the exhaustion of a newborn, remember it may bring someone joy if you say YES to their offer to help.