Recently we’ve been learning The Servant Song. I was struck especially by this line in the first verse: “Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant too.”
Isn’t it interesting how much easier we find it to help or serve others rather than allow ourselves to admit that we need to be helped or served? How often do we stress ourselves out and act in unloving ways because we will not admit that we need our brethren to love us, and serve us. How often do we struggle with feelings of rejection, when it is we who have done the rejecting by not accepting the love offered?
I know for myself I am quick to volunteer to do this or that and show love to others, but it makes me very uncomfortable for someone to offer to do something for me. I don’t know how to react and often react badly as if the sister who offers to help me with housework or child-care is criticizing in some way. Asking for help or accepting unasked for help makes us feel vulnerable. We act to protect ourselves and in doing so reject not only the love of others but also the love that God is trying to minister to us through them.
We need to remember that what we are supposed to be giving and receiving in our relationships is not always clear to us. Sometimes we know that we are supposed to minister to or teach someone, sometimes we know that we are to learn something. Often I suspect that we are in relationships (particularly our less intimate ones) so that the other person has someone to minister to and so that we can learn to humility and the vulnerability of being ministered to especially when we don’t think we need it.
At one of our former churches, there was one woman who would always hug me and get all teary eyed. Always. Every time I saw her unless I ducked. Those of you who know me IRL know that I’m not really a hugger. I don’t mind greeting and goodbye hugs, but I don’t like to be hung on and I REALLY don’t like to be hung on by someone who is weepy because the sun is shining (seriously this woman was like that). After we had been there for a couple of years I realized that I needed to stop avoiding her hugs and deal with the fact that God had made her that way and accept her for who she was. That was my lesson- I needed to learn that by “ducking” her I was inhibiting the Holy Spirit’s work in her life, by making her feel rejected. Wow! She was attempting to serve me by an outpouring of love and I wasn’t accepting it.
The same principle applies to our children (and I think we tend to get it there instinctively). When Su brings me a “flower” that is mostly mud and grass with a very bedraggled dandelion in the middle, I instinctively recognize that as love. But what about when F decides to bring me a “special drink” and makes a mess of the kitchen? If I start right in with a scold, I am rejecting his love and stomping on something that he may never express that well again. That is a heavy responsibility.
As Christians we are the picture of Christ to our husbands, our children and the world around us. Let us be sure that our reluctance to be served doesn’t send a false message of who God is.