Learning to Receive

Car accident leads to learning to accept help from friends and family.

| September/October 2009

There I was, driving home on a pretty country road just minutes from my house. All of a sudden, a truck coming from a side road tried to speed across the intersection in front of me. He didn’t make it, and I hit him broadside doing 50 mph. In the blink of an eye, my life changed.

Life is like that, isn’t it? We think we have a clear idea of where we’re going and suddenly something happens, we get knocked off course, and we’re on an entirely different path. My car was totaled, but it protected me from the worst of the impact. My injuries were caused by the same technology that saved my life, and I’m confident that a combination of time, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicine will work their magic to restore my health. 

Sometimes change comes about through good things, like a financial windfall, and sometimes it’s a not-so-great thing, like a car wreck. Either way, the experience is full of those “teaching moments” of which our president speaks.

As someone who is always willing to jump in and do what needs to be done, I often find myself in the role of giver. What I’ve discovered from my accident is that I’m far less comfortable allowing myself to be the receiver. When friends asked how they could help, my first response was to say, “Oh, I’m fine, but thanks for the offer.” As soon as I hung up the phone, I realized that automatic response was more about looking good than about being truthful. I couldn’t even lift a bottle of milk, and movers were coming in two days to move my household to a new place. What was I thinking?

So, I swallowed my pride, called my friends back and said, “You know what? Having you come out would mean the world to me.” So they brought boxes and their unsinkable spirits, and laughed and visited with me while they packed my entire kitchen in about two hours. They made me sit and watch them, a sensible torment, given the shape I was in.

After I had gotten moved to the new place, another friend called and said, “You can have my muscles all Saturday morning. What do you need to have done?” Again, my initial impulse was to demur, but, instead, I took a deep breath and said, “I’ll make a list.”

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