Patient Advocacy Part 2 – Receiving Help

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1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a good little helper.

Only recently, I am learning to become a better receiver of help.

Through the example of my parents and grandparents, I learned early on the joy of helping people. Be it: taking them fresh vegetables from the garden in the summer; anonymous donations of money; a meal, bread, or other treat; arriving early and staying late at an event to help set up and clean up; giving someone a ride; writing a card or making a call for encouragement; inviting someone for tea or dessert or a meal; babysitting; praying and….

All of these helps were given with joy. Even more joy was produced in their receiving. For a gift isn’t truly given unless it is received. And when the gift is received with joy, more joy is produced. Not just more joy at the moment, but future joy in the increased looking for ways to help more people in the future.

The smallest of gifts can bring the biggest of joy when given and received with joy. For when a gift is given and received with joy, strength is given to both the giver and receiver –  for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And this strength is the real gift that brings life, hope, courage, and more joy that prompts more giving, receiving, and strengthening.

God calls all of us to be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). God calls all of us to be cheerful receivers (see John 3:16). Not just of His salvation (the best gift ever!) but of His helps to us through others – Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ. I’m learning that both giving and receiving are acts of trusting obedience, humility, and worship to my God, Giver of all good gifts (see Matthew 7:9).

I grew up hearing Galatians 6:2 taught many times. And I would give more in response to the teaching. Yet I don’t remember the receiver being a vital part of the lessons. Most likely, it was my own arrogance that kept me from hearing and learning about receiving – I like the role of giver as it puts me in the driver’s seat of a task. Or so I thought…

As a chronic illness patient for nearly ten years now, I still won’t ask for help – yup, that ongoing battle with arrogance in the lie that I still think “I’m ok, I got this” (when it reality, pain has me by the throat). But I have learned to receive help and with joy. For when I joyfully receive help, I am giving. I give the giver fresh new joy with my response. And together, as help-giver and receiver, we worship in joy the God who created, equipped, and called all of us to participating in these good works of giving and receiving as in Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do.

With all that in mind, here’s a few practical tips I’ve learned about giving and receiving help as a chronic illness patient:

Practical plan for giving & receiving help – Patient Advocacy Tool 2

For the givers:

  1. If you think someone needs help, he probably does.

And most likely, he won’t ask for it but will be blessed if you initiate the giving (if your offer of help isn’t received with relief or joy, then your gift might be embarrassing and thus, not helpful. Then your best gift is to pray and pray some more for God knows the what, how, when, and where of his needs.)

  • Look for practical ways that you would like to be helped – be creative and intentional.

meals, rides, calls to the person or on behalf of the person (see Patient Advocacy Part 1 blog post on 8/12/21 for a plan on how to accomplish this), cards, gift cards, errands, cleaning up or cleaning out, organizing, prayer, small thoughtful gifts, child care, and listening (well-intentioned advice might not be helpful as it can bring more helpless feelings).

  • Make sure your gift is helpful.

ask about allergies, diet restrictions, schedules, and on the day of, if the receiver has enough energy to talk or answer the door or… Be willing to change what you might think is a good gift to one that will be a good gift.

  • Set up a specific time and date to give a pre-specified help.

A well-intentioned “just call me if I can help” can put a burden on the receiver if she feels like she might be imposing at a certain time or date and can make her question if she really needs your help at that time.

  • Follow through on your commitment to help.

Even if she might be doing better, she will be even better with another shot of joy your help brings to her or she might just have learned to hide the pain and really isn’t better.

  • Calendar a time to check in later to see if you can repeat the help or do another help.

She might not need help at that time, it’s a gift in and of itself, to be remembered by another.

For the receivers:

  1. Tell yourself that when I receive help from others I am giving them the gift of joy.

Don’t listen to the voice of guilt in your head saying “I got this, if I just push myself harder”. You have opportunity to give and receive strength in the form of joy.

  • Be genuinely delighted, grateful, and welcoming in whatever gift is given.

It might not be a gift you’d have chosen but this is the gift God chose for you and thus, is a good gift.

  • Follow through with gratitude.

Be it a text or card or call – say thank you over and again (unless the giver is embarrassed in this and if so, then doubly thank God for the giver and gift).

  • Look for ways you can be a giver – be creative and intentional.

The gift of listening and prayer alongside a text, card, call, or a gift card or something sent to his house from Amazon are beautiful gifts in seeing others as Jesus does. There’s something you’re uniquely equipped and called to do for someone. God will give the insight and other resources to complete what He has intended for you to do.

  • Calendar your commitments to give and do them.

Be willing to be flexible (without guilt) in having to move a call, card, text, or other gift to the next day if you are unable to complete it the day you’ve scheduled for it.

And as always, whether we are givers or receivers, we are called to be as Jesus, the One Who gave His life that we might receive the joy and freedom of eternal life for today and every day.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

In the comments section below, please share with us a great way you’ve been helped or that you’ve helped someone else. We can all be helped by the encouragement and inspiration of you!

Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2021.

Published by Beth Madison

author, speaker, learner

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