I grew up as an only child. I was accustomed to playing by myself. I built things, I experimented with chemicals, I made mistakes, but I survived intact. And in general, it continues to be a source of pride that I can do a lot of practical things to maintain our home all by myself.
But later today a friend is coming over to help me rebuild the stairs down to the lake. Tomorrow another guy will join us in that project. I might be able to do it without them, but they want to help.
Last spring, I was looking forward to a major rebuilding of our deck and the stairs leading down to the lake. This “deck” is really a combination of one large piece close to the house, then a second deck around a fire pit and 25 feet of walkways connecting them, plus 42 steps down to the lake, along with and a sizeable landing half way down in the middle of two lengths of stairs. A previous owner built all this over 40 years ago. It’s a wonderful design, but it needed a lot of repairs, and it’s an enormous project. So we only tackled two parts last spring. But when I was weakened by a long series of radiation treatments in April and May, even those parts seemed like a mountain too high for me to climb. So what happened? Eight friends and neighbors came over at different times to complete the two major parts of the project I had expected to do mostly by myself. I did a few smaller tasks to help. But mostly I watched. I learned to receive their gifts. They wanted to help.
This was a difficult stretch for me. My manhood and my pride needed to adjust to different parameters. Sometimes there were two volunteers here. Sometimes as many as five at one time. We had fun together. And I learned how glad they were to help us.
Now, April has come around again and this year I am pretty much back to my previous level of vigor. I am grateful for that fact. But I have called on a couple of my friends to help once again, anyway. Why? Partly because they are better then I am at building things. But also because they each told me, “Let me know when you want to get the rest done! I’ll come over and help.” They really enjoy helping me, and would feel disappointed if I did not let them help me.
So I am doing them a favor by accepting their assistance. One of them is especially precise in recognizing flaws in the structure and fixing them before we add new deck boards over some sagging supports. I would not have noticed. The result is so much better and will last many years more. The other man who is coming tomorrow is a jovial hard-working guy who enjoys tackling tough jobs.
Here’s what I am doing for them. By letting them help me I am providing them the opportunity to give me something of themselves, their energetic assistance. They love it! I can tell how they answer the phone when I called yesterday. “Sure, I’ll be there!” I am learning not to be so selfish by doing everything on my own.