Family life

Saying Yes and Other Lessons in Humility

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[Newbornlandia, week six. In which my eyes no longer open all the way because: TIRED.]

A couple of weeks ago my husband preached a sermon on humility. It was one of his best (ironic, I know, being that it was on humility – you can find it here if you’re interested). Sitting in the congregation that Sunday I thought to myself, “Yep, this new season of motherhood has taught me a lot about humility.” Little did I know, I had scarcely begun to learn.

You see, the week following Daryl’s humility sermon was one of THOSE weeks. The kind where you start thinking, “Surely nothing else can go wrong!” and then, of course, something else goes wrong.

It started with our washing machine. It’s been on the fritz for over a month, and our landlord wanted us to go through the warranty to have it fixed. No problem. Except… PROBLEM. Many problem. Large amounts of problem.

I’ll spare you the annoying details, but it involved four weeks of red tape and no washer. Four. Weeks. Our neighbors graciously allowed us to use their washer, but hauling stuff across the street with a newborn was tough, so despite our best efforts, laundry piled up. Then the warranty folks refused to fix the washer, and our landlord told us a new one would be our financial responsibility. That was Monday.

Tuesday my husband tweaked his knee, tearing his meniscus. The tear makes it too painful for him to walk more than a few yards without crutches, and impossible for him to do much lifting, carrying, or errand-running. Surgery is pending.

On Wednesday I tried to cook our first homemade dinner in a week only to have our oven malfunction and fill the house with smoke. Our newborn had finally fallen asleep, and I had this horrific moment of, “If I stay in here to find out what’s on fire, my baby will breathe in the smoke. If I run outside with him, our house will burn down.”

I solved the problem within a few terrifying seconds (oven OFF, door OPEN), and got to the porch. When my husband arrived home from work, I was on the porch sobbing. With our newborn, who was also sobbing.

“There’s no dinner,” I told him in despair. “There will never be any dinner. I am done.”

On Thursday someone rear-ended our parked car.

On Thursday night, the baby screamed inconsolably unless he was in the wrap. I ‘slept’ in the rocking chair.

By Friday I was pretty sure a plague of locusts was next. I was such a crispy critter. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally drained. I was spent. Toasted.

Have you been there? I had nothing left. I was that tired.

Surely things had to get better, right?

They did. But only after I learned some humility and started accepting help.

I don’t know about you, but accepting help is hard for me. I like to be the help-ER, not the help-EE. I like giving, not receiving. At the end of the day, that’s nothing but pride. We are all called to serve, but we are called to let others serve us, too. It’s part of living in Christian (or any!) community. It’s part of being human.

Yet most of us balk at it. It’s hard to humble ourselves and admit we have needs. It’s hard to let people in to the mess and the noise and the chaos of our lives in order to give us help.

In fact, in the weeks previous, tons of people had been offering us help. But… I’d mostly turned them down. “We’re good,” I’d say. “We’ll let you know,” I’d say.

Why would I do that? Pride. That was it, pure and simple. The ugliest and most sinister of sins. The one that keeps us at arms’ length from one another instead of letting each other in on the mess, the need, the chaos, the truth.

Still, after the week we’d had, my pride was gone. Humility? Bring it on.

So I prayed one of those Ann Lamott prayers. “Jesus, help me. Help me, help me, help me.” I thought about who I could ask for help, about whose previous offer I could accept, but before I could finish the thought, my phone started buzzing. Because sometimes God answers prayers that quickly. And sometimes those answers come via text.

A high schooler who babysits for us texted to see if she could come over help the next morning, “Free of charge, of course.”

I cried. I swallowed my pride. I said yes.

She showed up at 9am with HUGE coffees for us and took the preschooler to the park. Daryl and I showered. We napped while the baby napped. I began to see a light at the end of the exhaustion tunnel.

On Sunday morning, a friend texted to see if she could bring by leftover food from a reception at her house.

I cried. I swallowed my pride. I said yes.

On Sunday afternoon a friend texted, “I want to give you guys two hours of my time. Can I come over? I’ll do anything – laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping. You tell me what would help.”

I cried. I swallowed my pride. I said yes.

She came over with bags of fresh produce, organized our garage, and took away every last load of dirty laundry that had piled up with our broken washer. Every last load of laundry. We asked her to take two loads (apparently I hadn’t yet swallowed all my pride), but she insisted on taking the rest, too.

Monday I woke up to a Facebook message from a church friend. “I’ll be there in five minutes with coffee.”

I cried. I swallowed my pride. I said yes.

Newbornlandia 2.0 is humbling me. We were doing pretty well at first – thanks in large part to having my mom live with us for several weeks! – but then week six hit and everything seemed to go wrong. I couldn’t even pretend to make it on my own. This week wore me down so much with sleep deprivation, malfunctioning appliances, piled up laundry, financial stress, and family injuries that I couldn’t say no to help anymore. I had to say yes.

Lessons in humility have been hard for me. They always are.

But so, so good. It’s only Monday, but this week is already different. I’m humbled, for one thing. Yet that’s not all. By letting people in to love us in tangible ways – food, laundry, kid care – I’ve been reminded of the deep love of Jesus for us. And I’ve been inspired to live a life that is more open to giving and receiving than I’ve ever been.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, community. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What has God been teaching you?

 

3 thoughts on “Saying Yes and Other Lessons in Humility

  1. Gah! What a week! Isn’t it funny how God used smelly laundry to get to a piece of your heart? Well funny in retrospect! Thanks for sharing your lesson with all of us!

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  2. So young & willing to share God lessons with us. Thank you Courtney. You have taught me through being willing to be taught yourself by humbling yourself & allowing to receive what others want to give. Praying things are looking up as you see God’s hand in your life.

    Like

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