I have something to tell you that just might make you hate me. I hope not, but it’s possible. Are you ready for it? Here goes…
My husband cleans the bathrooms for me every week. All three of them. On his own. Just because.
Yes, my guy is awesome. I am so very thankful that he decided to begin serving me like this. It saves me so much time, and it motivates me to grab the vacuum and a dust cloth and attack the rest of the weekly cleaning while he’s shining the sinks and disinfecting the toilets.
But as much as I love having clean bathrooms and adore the fact that my hubby is a cleaning-machine, it has been very humbling to accept his help. At first, it was almost painful.
The first time he cleaned every inch of every bathroom, I felt guilty and embarrassed that they were dirty enough for him to see the need to pick up the mop and toilet brush himself. I figured he’d just had enough of the soap scum and water spots after weeks of neglect (oh, how I wish I was exaggerating). It felt like an indictment against my mediocre homemaking skills.
When he grabbed the caddy of cleaning supplies the following week, I realized his actions had nothing to do with my shortcomings. He simply wanted to help me out. I think he kind of liked the smile it put on my face.
But then another problem started rising up inside of me. I had an almost overwhelming urge to tell him how to do the job he had so lovingly volunteered for. I had an opinion on what cleaning products to use, how to avoid getting mop water on the carpet, which corners of the room were still dirty. Thankfully, I bit my tongue.
Each week when my husband kindly gives me the gift of time and clean bathrooms, I go through bits and pieces of the same struggles and emotions I went through in those first couple weeks of being served. It’s a frustrating and confusing internal battle that wars against the pure joy I should be feeling.
The Real Challenge of Accepting Help
Accepting help should be easy, but there’s this “little” thing called PRIDE that resides inside my heart and rears its ugly head at the worst times.
- It tells me that if someone wants to do something nice for me, it just might be because they think I’m not capable of doing it for myself.
- It judges another person’s thoughts, words, and actions, and it assumes their kindness is the result of an ulterior motive or is a subtle critique of me and my own abilities.
- It insists that there is one right way to do everything: My way.
- It reminds me that I know best and that the entire world might fall apart if my usual methods aren’t followed exactly.
I could go on and on. But I won’t.
From my experience, I don’t think I’m alone in the struggle to graciously accept help from others, whether that offer of assistance comes from a husband, another relative, or a well-meaning friend.
Maybe you’ve experienced this, too, when a friend offered to take your kids for the afternoon after you complained about how messy your house was. Or when your husband unloaded the dishwasher and put your favorite serving dish someplace it might never be found. Or when your mom insisted on paying for dinner because she knows money is tight.
It is absolutely humbling to take your friend up on her offer, or to thank your husband for doing the task all wrong, or to accept the gift you wish your mom didn’t have to pass your way.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on how hard it is when the kids help with tasks around the house. Without a doubt, they won’t dust with the same attention to detail that you do; they won’t vacuum the edges or under every table and chair; they won’t load the dishwasher in the most efficient way.
They will eagerly (if you’re lucky) do everything all wrong, and it will feel like a reflection of your own homemaking abilities. And you will feel humbled once again.
To be honest, that kind of humiliation is good for us. When we allow someone else to step into our lives and give us the help we need, it assaults the false belief of self-reliance. It attacks the voice that tells us how alone we are in our world of troubles. It challenges us to put someone else’s feelings first and be grateful instead of returning their kindness with critique.
Of course, we don’t want to become a leech, always expecting others to come to our rescue, but graciously allowing others to serve us can be a blessing to us and to them. It allows them to experience the joy that comes from giving to others, and the whole situation just might give them the encouragement they need to graciously accept help from you in the future.
Since accepting help doesn’t always come naturally, there are a few things I force myself to keep in mind when someone is giving me a helping hand. As a matter of fact, sometimes I might actually have to chant them inside my head as I’m outwardly smiling and saying a polite, “Thank-you!”
5 Ways to Accept Help Graciously:
Do not take the offer to help as a criticism.
If someone is kind enough to offer to help you, don’t feed your own guilt by assuming it’s because you’ve failed to manage on your own. In a twisted way, that’s self-centered thinking. Instead, think outside of yourself and consider how nice it is to have some much-needed help.
Do not judge motives.
It isn’t fair to put words in someone’s mouth or thoughts in their head, especially if their greatest offense is lending you a helping hand. Do not let yourself think that your helper is reaching out for any reason besides being kind. Just don’t go there.
Do not correct.
It really is alright if the task isn’t done in exactly the same way you would do it. Ask yourself what would be the “worst case scenario” if your way isn’t followed. Will something break if it isn’t cleaned perfectly? Will something ruin if your usual method isn’t used? Most often, the risk does not outweigh the need to be grateful (and zip your lips).
Do not redo.
This one is tough, especially if it was your husband or child who gave you assistance. Seriously, do not reload the dishwasher unless it is absolutely, positively necessary. Do not get the vacuum back out of the closet or refold the towels. Again, ask yourself the “worst case scenario” question and just walk away if at all possible.
Do say thank you (no matter what).
Regardless of the war that’s waging inside of you as you give up control and allow others to serve you, always say, “Thank you.” Always. Even if the job was done poorly. Even if the meal they brought over is something no one at your house will eat. Even if you feel guilty for needing help. Just say, “Thanks.”
Sometimes it’s hard to accept the help we need. It assaults our pride and challenges us to let go of control, but it also has the potential to give us (and the one helping us) joy we never expected. Don’t be afraid to let go of your pride and expectations so you can accept the gift you really need.