Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Gift of Taking

Stephen Covey suggested in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that human development should go through three phases: dependence, independence, and interdependence. This makes a lot of sense to me. Children are naturally dependent, and we help them grow into independent people who can take care of themselves, and eventually other people.

What I see around me now, though, is many people who aren't comfortable in the interdependence phase. They are often care-givers, but they won't let other people care for them. I suppose there are many reasons that people feel that they should give help to everyone around them, but shouldn't ask for help in return. For some, it is the belief they aren't worthy of help & they don't want to bother others. For some, it is a fear of giving up power and personal control. For some, it's plain old martyrdom.

Fortunately, I don't have close contact with many martyrs. When I see a one, I tend to say "Get off the cross, we need the wood," and they rarely if ever take kindly to that. I do have contact with people who won't give up their power and personal control. I don't think I'll go there today.

The people I care about who are great care-givers, but won't accept help, are loving, kind people. It is their "job" to take care of everything --- family, friends, pets --- and they don't ask for help. When they were told "it's better to give than receive," they believed it with a vengeance.

Often we don't offer to help these powerhouses, because we have gotten in the habit of taking from the givers and we don't think to ask how they are holding up. We may know from experience they won't let us help. But that should change.

And so I ask the care-givers to do me one great big favor. I know it is scary, but please, let us help. It is a sign of trust to allow someone to help you. It is a gift of faith and friendship. It is a kindness.

I know it's hard to ask for help when you know you can do it all, but PLEASE, let us help you.
You need to fill your heart and soul before you can share. You can't keep giving without refilling.
Interdependence goes both ways. Thank you for helping me. Now do me a favor and sit down while I cook dinner.

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