Helping others is loving others
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
—1 John 3:18 (NIV)
I’m not sure when or why I started having trouble accepting help from others. Constructive criticism is fine, and words of wisdom are always welcome. But accepting actual physical help—whether that’s someone teaching me to use a weed-eater or taking my kids for the day so I can write—is difficult for me. I fear I’m taking advantage of my friends, or I’m being a “mooch” or a “taker.” I get flashbacks of a mine-mine-mine childhood when I’d hoard my lunch or my toys, and I fear I’ll backslide into that slippery slope of selfishness.
If I’m being brutally honest, I think deep down I’m also worried I’ll be indebted to someone else. And yet I love to help others—not because it makes me feel like big-shot Jessica to the Rescue, either, but because it feels good to let my servant’s heart soar and do stuff for people. I offer to host playdates and bring my friends’ kids to and from places frequently. I don’t ever feel like they’re less than me, nor do I feel they owe me something or that they’re taking advantage of me.
So why when it’s my turn to be on the receiving end do I feel so uncomfortable about it? The other day, I had a full slate of activities and appointments lined up, including a summer camp and two performances for one of my kids, but my husband’s car unexpectedly needed service—and he needed to borrow mine to drive to the other side of the state for a meeting.
I texted a few pals, and all of a sudden I had friends to the rescue! One friend brought my daughter to kids’ worship music camp so I could work from home. Three hours later at lunchtime, another friend drove all the way across town to pick me up so I could see my daughter’s camp finale performance, then dropped me back off at home and took her on to their house for a swimming playdate, then brought her home hours later. A third friend brought her to the theater that evening, and when my husband finally got home, I hopped in the car to go watch her perform.
At first, it didn’t seem so bad to be carless and relying on friends to get everything done, but by the time the evening rolled around, I felt like a colossal scrounger. I kept apologizing and thanking people all over the place, not to mention furiously calculating exactly how and when I could reciprocate their kindness.
Finally, one of my friends gave me a patient smile and said, “Girl, please. Friends do this stuff for each other. It’s really no sweat.”
She’s right. John the Evangelist writes in his first epistle that we should “not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18, NIV). Helping others, caring for others, feeding others—anything we physically do for others is a way to show love for others, and love is something Jesus specifically calls us to do. In fact, we’re not just to show this extravagant love for friends but for all—strangers included. Enemies included.
Accepting help from my friends is allowing them to be obedient to God by showing love for me...and that’s always a good thing.
Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.
She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate (AdvocateSC.org), the oldest newspaper in Methodism.
Learn more about her fiction and read her blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.