Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Blessings of Selflessness

Selfishness, I think, is putting my own interests ahead of the interests of others. What's more, selfishness is allowing my interests to hurt those around me, or damage relationships in my life - current and potential.

Before rheumatoid arthritis became such a large part of my life, I was independent. I thought that if I couldn't do something myself, it wasn't worth doing. I didn't want to impose on anyone else. By asking for help, not only was I taking advantage of those around me, I was also admitting that I was incapable, weak.

There came a point when the RA made it necessary for me to ask for help. I no longer had a choice; I was incapable and weak. Admitting that to others and myself was not noble or courageous. It was accepting the facts of my new life. So I started asking for help. I asked a Wendell family to help with yardwork. They came and mowed my lawn, pulled weeds, raked leaves. They helped me fill a drop-box full of trash to clean out my back yard. For several years, they came over any time I needed help.

I felt selfish. I was imposing on their family, their time, their energy, their kindness. At least that's how I felt, what I thought.

Turns out, I was completely wrong. Each time my friends came to help me, they thanked me for the opportunity to help. They thanked me for allowing them to help. They thanked me for blessing their lives by receiving their kindness. By giving them an outlet for their kindness and love, I was blessing them. At the same time, they were blessing me.

Selfishness results in hurt all around. Selflessness brings joy and blessing to everyone involved.

There is a new person in my life, someone who refuses to accept help. Actually, it's not always a refusal, more often its a reluctance. I want to show kindness, but I'm not allowed an opportunity for that kindness. This friend believes they're being selfish my accepting my kindness. I want to show them that refusing my kindness is more selfish than asking for it.

A selfish person demands, "You have two apples. Give me one, now." That demand ignores my feelings, takes away my options.
A selfless person asks, "You have two apples. May I have one?" That request respects my feelings, gives me options. That request honors my desire to help.

A selfish person refuses to ask for help when it's needed.
A selfless person asks for help, giving other people the opportunity to help.
A selfless person creates blessings in the life of the giver and receiver.

If you are my friend, I may ask you for help. Maybe you can help, maybe you can't. Either way, I want to strengthen my relationship with you by asking.
If you are my friend, you can ask me for help. I might be able to help, I might not be able to help. Either way, you bless my life through your request.
If you are my friend, I may give you a gift: time, attention, energy, even something material. Whatever I give, I give freely, to my friend. Honor my gift by receiving it. Allow us both to be blessed through the giving.
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