Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saying Yes


Just two days back in Indonesia and I was saying, “No” as in “Oh, no, no, no.”

My nice little plans were unraveling. In my eighth month of pregnancy, I’d cooked extra meals from scratch to store in my freezer for our return home from Singapore.  I’d cleared my schedule for my return—no preschool yet for Evan. No ministry commitments to fulfill. My gas can filled for the generator and those power outages. The baby clothes all washed and organized. 

All set up so that I could handle life on my own with three kids on this little Indonesian island.

But in the middle of the night on that third night—I was awake for a feeding for my baby—Brad told me he was sick. Really sick.

Oh no, no. no. Not this. Not now.
I'd heard about the flu-like virus that had been infecting our friends here, making many of them really sick for days, even weeks. Just two days back and Brad was so sick he couldn’t walk more than a few feet without falling over, his fever high, his stomach nauseous. A day later, my 2-year-old got it.

I spent my time torn, having to choose which crying baby to hold—the sick one or the newly born one. And I spent my nights torn between fear and faith. What if my tiny baby got the illness? Could he survive? What if I got it? Who would take care of everyone?
And then my helper, a young woman who helps me keep up with all the housework, asked for a few days off. Then a couple days later, quit her job to be married in very sudden, arranged marriage that broke my heart. I was torn between being glad she’d found someone and sad that she felt like the only option she had was to marry a stranger.

The meals I’d made that I hoped could be used spaced out over several weeks, were gone within a few days. No time to make anything else as I tried to keep up with dishes and dirty laundry and caring for the sick, washing my hands furiously as I went from sick person to new baby.

Sometime in the middle of one of those dark nights, I punched out an email to the MAF wives here, asking for prayer, for help—small kinds of help.  As soon as I sent it, I regretted it, wishing I could unsend all that vulnerability.
I don’t like to ask for help. I don’t like to need others. I don’t like to be so much trouble. I prefer to be the one to give, hiding behind service and babysitting and casseroles. 

I prefer to earn people's love with acts of kindness than drain them with my pleas for help.
Almost immediately, the offers poured in. Offers of meals, babysitting, grocery runs, even an offer of a friend to come over and clean my house for me. I felt embarrassed and opened my mouth, ready with my standard reply of “We’re fine. Thanks anyway.”
Instead, the word escaped my mask of independence.

“Yes.”

Yes, I need. Yes, I’ll take. Yes, I’m a wreck and can’t do this on my own.
We got through those couple of grueling weeks. Everyone is pretty healthy now. The baby never got sick. I never got more than a sniffly nose. My husband is back to being able to help me, able to hold his baby again.  I can pile all my kids on my lap without worrying about the sick ones infecting the healthy ones. And thankfully, I have a new helper, with a sweet smile and a willingness to help me tackle those mounds of laundry and dishes.

But something more happened. A different kind of healing.
After a year of feeling burned out, of going through the motions of ministry with a tired heart, I felt new life. When I said yes and allowed others to give to me, they showed me that I’m worth their trouble. I don’t have to do this alone. And all that vulnerability that I like to keep tucked away behind a smile? They accepted it…and me.

I’m glad to be back in a position to be able to serve and hear others say, “yes” to my offers. But I’m even happier to do it knowing what it feels like to have people say "yes"...to me.

photo credit, mikebaird

               

3 comments:

  1. A very hard, but priceless, "Yes!"

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  2. I love this post! It's so true too.
    I gave birth right after you did and had full blown pneumonia. My whole family and the midwives were wearing masks for two weeks after she was born. We had flu AND some horrible nightmare bacteria akin to whooping cough. Leah Joy is a sweet joy and we are all fine now. Praise God! But all that help!!! So humbling yet it does give new life. In God's sweet gift of humiliation, we are brought to more death of self and more Life in Him. Seeds have to die to become new plants...

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