By Mark E. Smith
For most of us, we’re far more comfortable giving than receiving. Yet, giving and receiving must be equally embraced if we are to truly have healthy, reciprocating relationships. Just as we strive to love and support others in their times of need, we must welcome their love and support in our times of need.
Now, I know it can be hard, where pride and ego can make it very emotionally difficult to receive in times of need. If you’ve been the bread-winner in your family, and your in-laws want to pay your mortgage because you’ve been out of work, that may be a difficult gift to receive. If you have a disability and your spouse wants to help with your daily care, that can be a difficult gift to receive. Or, if you’re a single parent and friends wish to watch your children to give you a break, that can be a difficult gift to receive. The examples go on and on, and I’m sure that you can think of examples from your own life where you’ve emotionally struggled with receiving from others on some level. However, here’s the heartfelt truth: when others offer to support us in our times of need, they do so out of love, and if we – again, out of falsities of pride, ego or embarrassment – reject their support, it will almost always be interpreted as some sort of rejection of their love. What’s more, in an intimate relationship, if we are always striving to be there for our partners, but won’t allow them to be there for us, it can be like slamming an emotional door in their face – and the inequity created will destroy the relationship. The fact is, love isn’t just about giving, but receiving.
One aspect of my life is that I can aspirate in my sleep, a very dangerous condition. Fortunately, due to preventative measures, I keep it under control, and when I do awake aspirating, I’m able to roll over and sit up, literally saving my life at times. Unfortunately, because my lungs fill with fluid, I become extraordinarily ill for 10 to 12 hours, with a 102-degree fever, till my lungs clear. As you might imagine, this can be really scary for my partner. Therefore, in wanting to protect her, I wouldn’t wake her up when it happened. In the morning, however, she’d become upset with me, knowing that I aspirated but didn’t wake her up. However, she wasn’t upset out of anger but love. When our partner is sick, we want to be there for him or her, and through my stubbornness, I wasn’t allowing her to be there for me. Not only was I wrong by robbing her of peace of mind – as she wanted to be immediately aware of the situation so she could help – but I also wasn’t fostering a reciprocating relationship. I wanted to give, give, give to her, but indirectly, I wasn’t fully allowing her to give back in among my times of need. That was painful for her to experience, and lousy on my part by thwarting reciprocation in our relationship. As a result, I became much more respectful of her concern for me, letting her know when I aspirated, allowing her to care for me. If we are to truly love someone, we must let him or her truly love us in our times of need, as well.
See, in loving, the one aspect we wish most is peace of mind. We want to know that those we love are healthy, safe and secure. The same goes for those who love us – that is, they want to know we’re healthy, safe and secure. And when we don’t allow others in, it causes them stress, anxiety and heartache. Letting others be there for us, as we wish to be there for them, offers peace of mind to those we love – and that’s one of the most humble yet powerful gifts we can give.
I discussed this overall subject with my sister, and she replied that it takes tremendous humility to allow others to be there for us in our most vulnerable times of need. And, she was right. We must let down our guard and inherently trust that those wishing to be there for us do so out of unconditional love and respect, and we should never interject insecurities into the dynamic. If someone wishes to assist you out of love and respect, allow him or her, as it’s a testament to your character, too.
Ultimately, no one gets through life alone. When we’re fortunate, we have the opportunity to love and support others in their times of need. However, let us not forget that love is reciprocation, and we must allow others to likewise love and support us if we are to have truly healthy relationships. Therefore, sometimes the greatest gift that we can give someone we love is the sincere opportunity for him or her to love and support us in return – especially in our times of need.