My friend Jeneil wrote a heart wrenchingly beautiful post this morning. It’s a post about love. It’s about what it means to find the grace within oneself to accept help when we need it. It’s about mercy and redemption.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Jeneil and I have known each other for a little less than two years. Despite the fact that we met as fully grown adults (c’mon now, no height jokes please, this is a serious post), mothers and even pretty evolved women, I would dare to say that we met during our ‘formative years’. I don’t think that Jeneil would argue if I said that she and I are both light years from where we were merely two years ago.
I have watched with sisterly pride as my fiercely independent friend has learned to accept help. I’ve watched her struggle to make peace with the fact that this CAN’T be done alone. I have watched her grow. And of course, I have watched her see clearly – as she always does – God’s presence in it all. I have learned so much from her. And I am grateful.
But I got stuck in the middle of her post. I got stuck on the word ‘indebted.’ I got stuck when she said, “I thought, My mess, my problem. Leave me alone to suffer. If you help me, I’ll be indebted and I don’t like that feeling.”
My life is dramatically different from my dear friend’s. Day to day, moment to moment – there are few similarities. But I too need help. I need it every damn day – whether I want to admit it or not. And every day, it is given. I don’t always see it, but only because I don’t always remember to look. Sometimes it’s buried deep in the farthest corners, but it’s always there.
It comes from my friends. It comes from my family – both blood and chosen. It comes from my children’s teachers, administrators, aides, therapists and doctors. It comes from the dance instructor who believes that everyone who wants to should dance. It comes from the researchers who toil in labs and from the waitress who finds us a quiet table in a busy restaurant. It comes from the mothers who bring our story to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and it comes from the woman in the market who doesn’t judge when my girl is having a hard time. It comes from Neuroscience professors who invite parents to speak to their classes and it comes from the man in Home Depot who finds a flower for my daughter when she just can’t handle any more. It comes from the mother at the pool who buys her a hot dog when I’ve forgotten to bring money. And of course, it comes from you.
Today – at this very minute – I need more than I probably ever have. Over the past week, I haven’t been shy about asking for it. I have literally made calls and simply said, “It’s Jess. I need your help.” And it’s been there. God, has it been there.
I’ve gotten better at making those calls. For better or worse, I’ve had some practice. Quite simply, I can’t do this alone. When I can, I give. And when I do, I give big. When I must, I take. I try like hell to do both with grace. I know I often fail. Giving is easy. It’s the taking that’s awkward. Pride is strong.
But what of indebtedness? What of Jeneil’s words I am indebted?
Do those who I love owe me for the times that I give them what I have? Do I owe them for the support that they give me in return? Is there some kind of cosmic scorecard?
With all the respect in the world for my dear friend, I just don’t buy it. I don’t think that debt has any place in her story – or mine or yours. I don’t believe that love – either the great love of God or the humblest love of a friend – keeps account of what it gives or what it receives.
There can be no debt in love.
Unlike any other resource we have, love’s supply can never be depleted – neither God’s nor man’s. Because the miraculous thing about love is that it replenishes itself through the very act of being given away. That’s a pretty amazing thing. What else works like that? As we give it away, it grows.
So to my dear Jeniel – to all of you – I say,
No debt. Just love.
And gratitude. Lots and lots of gratitude.