15 November 2011

Self-Sufficient? Others Dependent? That is my Question!

I jotted the following "notes" down a few months ago... a blog post formulating in my mind, and as usual, I started off thinking with my fingers... based off of a book and some research I had been doing.

I even went ahead and pre-scheduled a posting date, far enough in advance that I would have time to think and mull and muse... and then write... never dreaming how appropriate that post would be for today, for the events that have transpired in our lives since my original wondering first began.

Here are the notes that I made for myself:
  • thinking about sharing
  • thinking about self-sufficiency and not being a burden on others
  • thinking about providing for my family when things get harder
  • thinking about those who reject offers of help... "oh no, we're ok, we can handle this" or "I don't deserve this sort of assistance," "I don't consider myself worthy of your help"
  • joke about the guy who drowned - after refusing several offers of help b/c he was waiting for miracle
  • blog posts stumbled upon re living "off grid" vs "dumpster diving"
It all started with my feelings hurt...

I had seen, from a distance, a clear need. I spent some time praying for that need, had the seed of an idea sprout in my mind, knew something specific I could do to help and to serve, actually had time and wanted to help, started preparing so that I could offer to help. I offered... only to have that offer rejected, rather abruptly. I was surprised, angry, frustrated, and as I have already mentioned, hurt.

God commands us to bear one another's burdens, to help each other out, to serve, to love... If we are going to do that, however, it requires that someone is willing to share their burdens or even to be carried, another is open to receiving help and being served, a person must allow others to, both tangibly and intangibly, love them... All of this requires humility and the admission that "I can't... without God... Who so often works through others."

Then, there were those blog posts I'd stumbled upon. The first is about a family who is deliberately choosing to live a more simplistic, independent lifestyle... on that is not so bound to our modern conveniences (electricity, city water, Walmarts and supermarkets, two cars/family, etc.). Part of the reasoning behind this change is a desire to provide, themselves, for all of their needs, living less dependent on modern communities. These folks are followers of Jesus. The second blog is by a woman who, in the past, lived anything but a godly lifestyle and is proud of that fact. She and her partner have three children and in the economic crash, lost their jobs, their home, their vehicles - and are forced to live in a "homeless" shanty community, scrounging food and other valuables from dumpsters. Yet she describes an amazing community where people pool the resources they manage to collect or earn for the benefit of all members... a community that is thriving despite the odds. And I was flabbergasted just a bit that, a bit too simplistically put,  those who claim to follow the Lord were rejecting community in favor of independence while those who made no pretense of the fact that they despised all Christianity stood for were living a New Testament church lifestyle as is described in Acts.

It is horrifyingly humbling to repeatedly have to accept the help of others. We've had to do a lot of that hard swallowing lately, as people have given and provided (are still giving and providing) sacrificially to help our family walk through the dissolution of our former organization. Pride resists walking into an office and receiving yet another anonymous gift or generous offer to delay or defer payment. Please don't misunderstand, we are overwhelmingly thankful and appreciative, for sure... but frankly, we'd really rather not be in this position to begin with. We didn't ask for it. We didn't make poor decisions and now are walking through consequences. We had this thrust upon us - divinely thrust upon us; we'd infinitely rather be the ones assisting, helping, sacrificing... instead of the other way around.

I think I'll close with a joke my dad told me once. He grew up in the flood plain of the Mississippi River, and floods were not uncommon, so I don't recall exactly, but I think that may be where this joke came from. A man is sitting on top of his house, watching the flood waters rise and wondering what he is going to do. Some guys come by on the backs of horses and offer to give him a ride to the shelter in the next town. He declines, saying that he'd prayed and was sure the Lord was going to provide a rescue. The water continues to rise and a bit later, some neighbors paddle up in their rowboat, offering to give him a ride to safety. Again, he refuses, confident that the Lord has a different plan for him. The water mounts even higher and it starts to rain once again. The water rescue team comes by with their motor boat and life jackets, offering to help. The man insists that he is fine, that God has everything under control and that no, keep the life jacket. After all, they might find someone else who needs it much more than he will. As the rain pours and the water begins to creep up the roof, the man finds himself perched on the peak and a helicopter rescue team drops a ladder, yelling for him to grab ahold and climb up. A final time, he rejects the offer of help. The next day, only the peak of the roof remains unsubmerged and there is no sign of the man. In the night, he'd slipped off the roof, washed away in the tumultuous waters and drowned. When he stood before the Lord, he asked Him, "I just don't understand, Lord. I prayed. I believed and trusted. Why didn't you rescue me?" And the Lord answered, "I tried to. First, I sent horses... then a rowboat... then the motor boat with life jacket... and finally a helicopter. What more did you expect me to do?"

Funny, but it makes a poignant point.

How do you accept the love and support of your community?
How do you choose to let others serve you?
How do you react when others reject your attempts to serve?


  1. You know?...only God could have brought me to this blog. ;) I found it through your comments on Laura's blog (@Overseas). You described exactly where our family is (the hate-to-admit-we-need-help side). We were always the ones who helped...others. Now being on the other side because God has 'placed' us there?...oh, not so easy. Our pride is an interesting and not-so-nice lil' creature.

    The story about the man drowning?...sad, but so stinkin' true. Our pride is SO determined that our answer is going to come how WE want it and WHEN we want it. God's up there saying...'you're not in control. I am.'

    What an incredible post. Thank you. I personally needed this. (It 'bonked' my pride on its' head! lol)


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