Accepting help from others has never been my father-in-law Boyd’s strong suit. In fact I would say accepting help from anyone is probably one of the hardest things in the world for him. He’s always been the strong one. He’s been a tough as nails farmer all his life and he works harder physically than anyone I’ve ever seen. He is fiercely independent, unbelievably stubborn, and used to always being in charge…until now…
In the last six weeks since injuring his back while operating an excavator (he is 86 years old, turning 87 in two months), his health has deteriorated incredibly fast where he is now confined to a wheelchair and totally dependent on others to take care of him. He is also in unbearable pain that has taken away his appetite and doesn’t allow him to get any sleep. We flew him here to Utah last week from his home in Idaho to try and get him into doctors that could help him. Thanks to the help of a dear friend we were able to get him into an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Utah Hospital last week and after examinations, x-rays and reviewing his MRI they determined that they will need to perform surgery right away to fix his spine and alleviate the pressure and damage it is doing to his sciatic nerve.
We felt so blessed to find a doctor who is willing to get him into surgery right away, especially when he’s normally booked ten weeks out. But with as much pain as he’s in he wouldn’t have been able to make it even another week. It’s been excruciating for him. And as much pain as he’s physically in, I know the emotional pain of having to be totally reliant on others to help him do everything is just as excruciating. And he’s got at least another three months or more of being reliant on others as he heals from surgery as well.
It’s caused me to think a lot about how hard it is for us to accept help. We often tell ourselves that needing help makes us weak, so we too often try and suffer alone. Whether its with a physical injury or sickness we tell ourselves we don’t want to burden others with, or a mental illness that is weighing us down, or an emotional struggle that we’re hiding from the world…we all have times we need the help of others…that’s what makes us human…but its up to us to be wise enough to accept that help.
Accepting help is its own kind of strength. It’s the strength of humility that allows you to say, “I need help to get through this”. It’s the strength of wisdom that recognizes you shouldn’t go through your trials alone. And it’s the strength of courage that says, “I am going to accept help so I can get myself back to being the best version of me I can be.”
There is no shame in accepting help, and in doing so you are blessing the lives of the people you are allowing to help you. I’m grateful Boyd has been allowing us to take care of him. I know how hard it is on him to do that, which only makes me see him as even stronger than I did before.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )