So lately I’ve been thinking about loss. Destruction and devastation in Japan is constantly in my mind’s eye…the images of heartbreak linger, don’t they. A friend shared with me of a sadness in their family…the loss of expectation is so heavy And today, I read Molly Piper’s recent blog, where she spoke of sharing a friend’s sorrow and grief over the death of that friend’s baby.
Molly is so very wise. She shares about entering in another’s pain, whether you can fully understand it or not; whether it exceeds your life experience.
“Imagination is what will take you closer, even when you feel very distant from the situation.
I think we underestimate imagination. We shut it down too quickly, afraid we’ll either presume too much understanding or that it’ll just hurt too much.
Real love gets into the trenches of grief and suffering. It imagines. It lets it’s mind’s eye linger. Real love will not avert its eyes. It won’t say, “Your disaster is too much for me.”
I think there may be a message there for me. Not only because I sadly admit to averting my eyes to another’s pain far too often, but because it’s so very difficult to let others IN mine.
I struggle with a physical disability. I don’t always struggle, but sometimes I do. In dealing day to day with the challenges that presents, the sweet imagination of others presses up to me in ways that I welcome, and in ways that hurt my pride. The effort to understand, to reach in, I know is more often than not just pure kindness, or good manners, but my ability to receive those gestures with any grace at all is unpredictable.
Allowing someone to help me has never been my thing. Add a physical disability into the mix, and that independence only got magnified. “I can do it myself” became my mantra.
A friend pointed this out to me not very long ago. The funny thing is, many people have pointed this out over the years. This time, however, when he brought my own behavior to my attention, I got it. I actually got it.
What I see and sometimes understand is far lengthier than a blog post allows, and I am clearly still in process but there are some key things.
I have the ability and can do most things for myself, but my stubborn refusal to allow someone to make something easier now and then really demeans me , exactly the opposite of making me appear capable and independent. Until quite recently, I think there was a part of me that thought if I accepted help, then that meant I really couldn’t do it alone. I t’s so very caught up in self: self-concept, self-image, self-esteem. I get so tired of self-focus.
So I’ve come up with a phrase that I use quite often, like when someone holds a door open for me, or offers their arm on a slippery walkway: ” Thank you so much. I can do it, but it’s easier with help”. That’s it. It’s just easier with help.