Monday, February 8, 2010

even steven

the Lord has been teaching me so many things over the course of the past 3 weeks. some of those lessons have been easier than others.

we had to trust the Lord with my health. we had to trust the Lord with the details of the surgery. we are trusting the Lord to provide. we have learned to ask and accept help when we need it.

in learning these lessons, i have been reminded of a mental struggle i have wrestled with much of my life. that struggle is this:

i want things even steven: having nothing due or owed on either side.

regardless of how hard i try to accept gifts with no strings attached, i still want to attach strings. it is very hard for me to believe that anyone would want to help me without expecting something later in return. or perhaps i think that people feel obligated to offer help, but deep down inside they don't really want to help and secretly hope that i won't accept their offer. or maybe this is how my selfish nature wants to think, and so i project this thinking onto other people.

i feel like things have to be even steven. if you do something for me, then i owe something in return. and even steven doesn't necessarily have to be the same exact thing in return for what was gifted to me. nonetheless, i feel compelled to try and balance the scales.

strangely, this doesn't usually translate into my relationship with Christ. granted, i do act a certain way because i call myself a Christian, but my actions are not a means to salvation. i can accept grace. my salvation was bought at a price, namely Christ's death on the cross. i cannot add to that.

so what has me thinking about my even steven mentality tonight?

as you know, i've been quite transparent in sharing how this surgery affects our finances, despite our inclination to keep those things private. the Lord has acted on our behalf in working out an amazing agreement with the hospital and the doctors involved. we wanted to be transparent in this area because we knew we needed prayer. we are glad that we have been transparent in this area because we've been able to share the Lord's provision for us with you. it reminds me of what our pastor said to us in our wedding vows: this is for your benefit and God's glory. indeed God, we give You the glory for all You have done for us.

the hospital and doctors have been quite gracious. it seems easier to accept help from a hospital or from a doctor because it seems they are in a position (namely a better financial position) to be able to help.

it is harder for me to accept help from a friend who is giving sacrificially. i don't know how to accept this type of gift. i want to refuse it because i know it is sacrificial. i want to change the terms and conditions of their gift..."this is too much. if you want to help us, just give us this (fill in the blank here) instead." it makes me uncomfortable because i wonder if the situation were reversed, would i be willing to give like that? if this friend is giving us this gift out of obedience to the Lord and i refuse their gift, am i causing them to disobey? if giving us this gift brings them joy, am i robbing them of joy by refusing it?

all these questions are rolling around in my head tonight. can you help me make sense of them? do you have these same struggles? i think my struggle with this particular gift is it's significance to us and the help it brings to our situation. it just feels like it's too much to accept, while at the same time, it is just what we need.

i know the joy that comes from blessing others. it feels good to help others. it is a lesson we have tried to teach and model to our boys. i can give. i like to give. i don't know how to receive.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hi, Jennifer! I so appreciate your openness! May I recommend a book? I'm almost through with it myself. It's called "Money, Possessions, and Eternity" by Randy Alcorn, and it's all about giving. One thing I've learned is that what we do with our money and possessions is of HUMONGOUS importance to God. It reveals what's in our hearts. And giving is one of the activities that brings us eternal rewards, which we SHOULD seek. So, those who are helping you and John are demonstrating their God-filled hearts and storing up treasures in heaven.

I'd LOVE to chat more if you're interested. We can talk by phone any time. My cell number is in the church directory and on Facebook.