Sunday, April 18, 2010

Family: On Pride and Showing Up

My father has been in ill health his entire life. He has a genetic form of pancreatitis, and I have watched him suffer, in and out of hospitals, many, many times. Because of his pancreatitis, he eventually developed diabetes as well. He recently had another accident because of a sugar drop, and life has changed for all.

I spent a year going back and forth from my home to my Mother's when she had cancer, spending the majority of my time with her. I helped her physically when needed, and we leaned on each other emotionally and spiritually until her passing.

With dad, it is more difficult. He is harder to live with, and he will be the first to admit that. Trying to regulate his sugar and keep him from hurting himself further keeps us all hopping.

My point in telling you this? Dad sat with his family Saturday as I was giving instructions to my sister to take over his care for a while, and he told us he should not, did not want to, be a burden to us. What he doesn't understand is that God created us to need others and to need him. We take care of him because we love him, not because we have to.

Someone once told me that family "shows up". When we have a need, our family is there for us. They don't leave us to their own devices just because they have another life. They adjust. They sacrifice. They come through if at all possible.

Sometimes that "family" is a friend with no blood ties or a church member (a different kind of family) but those who 'show up' are family. The following are some things we need to know about needing others.

--When we don't allow others to help us, we steal their blessing! In my case, God will honor me for honoring my father and taking care of him as he ages. I don't do it for that reason, but I'm so glad I get to do it. How will I ever have this honor if I am not allowed to sacrifice?

--When we don't allow others to help us, we are full of pride. When someone feels that others may have to have help, but not him or her, he or she is really saying, "I am special. I will never be old, need help. I will always be able to take care of myself, and I don't need help." Pride, plain and simple, keeps us from accepting reality and allowing the inevitable to come with dignity and grace.

--When we don't allow others to help us, we probably stubbornly resist God's help as well. God wants us to depend on Him, completely and wholely, and often we try to make it on our own, only calling on Him for help when we become desperate. God wants us to walk with Him every day and depend on Him for everything - even those things we can handle on our own.

When we don't watch our strengths, we open a door for the devil. We tend to turn to God for help in our infirmities, but think we're good in our strengths. This makes our strengths the prime target. Realizing we cannot go it alone in anything we do is a big step in our walk of faith.

All of that to say that we need to depend on others in the same way we depend on God. Others can't "show up", even family, if we don't allow it. God,the sin of pride is so invasive in all we do. Help us to step aside and accept help when we need it, allowing others the self-esteem and blessing that comes from showing up. In learning to submit, teach us to submit to you as well. You: above all, in all, for all.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves...
Ecclesiastes (paraphrase)

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