For most of my life as a woman with Cerebral Palsy, I have tried to be as independent as possible. I got a college degree, raised a daughter as a single mother, and lived alone for several years after she went to college. Now I’ve got a roommate and I qualify for much more help than ever before. I feel absolutely spoiled.
I used to think that having people live with me would be confining, but actually, it’s freeing. I didn’t realize there would be so many hidden benefits to letting people do things that I used to struggle with. Besides having someone to visit with in the morning, it cuts down on the time it takes to do the monotonous, but necessary routines in life.
I thought that if I needed help to do these things, it would mean I was in bad shape, but I am finding out that this is not necessarily true. It just means that I can use the time and energy that I have in different and more productive ways. Rather than spending an hour and a half getting ready for the day, I can devote more time to things like sleeping in, my writing, my work with Joni and Friends, and keeping in touch with friends who are important to me.
Receiving help can either feel liberating or confining. It depends on your perspective. I’ve realized over the last few years that my perspective has changed. Instead of just being independent, I see the value of inter-dependence. A few years ago, there was a group of women at my church, Rock Creek Church, who formed, ‘Team Lyla’ and they brought food over once a month. That showed me the benefits of being inter-dependent with my church community. As they brought meals, I visited with them and got caught up on what was going on in their lives and our friendships grew stronger as a result.
It is another example of Ephesians 4:15-16, which says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
We often think that receiving help makes us look like a victim, however, it is in receiving help, that we are given the opportunity to use the gifts God has given us to bless others. Living life with this perspective is the way to change our own hearts and others’ too, by showing them the benefits of living inter-dependently.