Fast forward ten years. I am much more often in a position to help others now, but still have specific areas that are weaknesses, not to mention specific times when I need help (e.g. adoption transition!) I have found that accepting help from friends who have strengths in my areas of weakness is a huge boost to my whole life.
One major area of weakness in my life: organization, specifically home organization. I do okay in small segments. I kept my adoption paperwork pretty organized up until the last bit where it got a wacky. I have little pockets of organization in my home, but overall I really have a tough time keeping stuff under control. I have tried Flylady (which works, by the way, if you actually do it, which I did for several months back in 2004, but not so much if you just delete the emails and never do them) and several other systems, but mostly no system at all and just trying to tread water. The special bane to my existence is PAPER. Why is there so much paper?!? (The below picture is of my garage, not my paper piles.)
Over the last few years I have been more and more open to having friends come help me with organization. It started with my wonderful college roommate. She and I would get together annually and do a sorting/organizing project, alternating houses every year. This was lovely and helpful, but unfortunately my roommate (who has many many incredible qualities) has only somewhat better organizational skills to my own. The good part was that this eased me in gently because I knew she could relate to my struggle, plus we had lived together for four years in college (she was the neat one) so she had already seen me at my worst (hello, mountain of college clothes piled high on my desk chair until it tipped over). Besides, once every two years combined with my pathetic solo efforts wasn't really making a dent considering the constant influx of stuff brought by the mailman and by my kids.
Last summer another good friend from college who is stellar at organizing came in to town and spent two days whipping my pantry, kitchen, dining room, and various piles of paper into shape. She set up a simple "even Justine can do it" filing system and did it all with great respect and encouragement. It was incredible and even fun! But I wouldn't even let her touch my closet.
That experience opened the door to my seeing how valuable it is to let others into our lives to help us out in our areas of weakness. Much to my own surprise I allowed a newer friend with a talent for organization, (who had never even been to my house!) come over to help me organize a room before Baby Girl came home. It seemed to snowball from there. I have now had three or four organizationally gifted friends help me with bits and pieces of my house. One wonderful friend came over earlier this spring and together we cleaned out and organized my entire garage! Her church even provided the storage shelf and totes we used! What a gift!
|AFTER (the giant pile o' stuff on the left is our soon-to-be-set-up pool)|
This past week was the most amazing, humbling, exhausting, and enlightening experience. My good-at-organizing college friend was back in town for a conference. After spending two days "conferencing" and getting too little sleep, plus another day running errands around town and getting too little sleep, my Friend With Boundless Energy And Mad Organizing Skilz (FWBEAMOS) decided it was time to tackle my closet. This time I let her. My role was to stand by and give the occasional opinion in between running out-of-place items to their places. Mostly I tried not to hyperventilate (not really) or cry (really). Although my FWBEAMOS was very gentle in her approach, there was no denying that it was painful to be that vulnerable, to let her go through my "stash and dash" boxes that had been in my closet for years and watch her throw away 95% of the contents. It was painful to see her make short work of piles that had mentally tortured me for years. It was painful because it made me face a glaring weakness in my life. I am good at a lot of things and mostly have my act together. I can dish out a lot of encouragement and advice, much of it good. But I am not perfect. I do not have ALL strengths. None of us do. That is why we need each other.
That is why the American ideal of "rugged individualism" is actually against the gospel. First Corinthians 12 is one of my favorite Bible passages. It talks about gifts and needing each other. It includes possibly the best (and funniest) analogy in the Bible, comparing the members of the church (universal) to the parts of the body:
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? - I Cor. 12:14-17Can't you just see a giant eyeball? Or a giant ear? It wouldn't be much of a person if it was just a giant eye. I highly recommend reading the whole chapter.
We need each other. We each have a purpose. We each have gifts. And we need to be vulnerable and open enough to allow others to help us in our areas of weakness. The rewards are great. Really great. I am thankful.
|One reward of a clean garage: a workbench for The Philosopher.|