Last Sunday, my 9-year-old brother Kye was hospitalized for pneumonia. He was the baby of the family, and the event brought worry, pain, and busyness for everyone. It was hard for all of us to see the usually bright-eyed little cupid weak and pale upon the hospital bed he could barely fill. As his "third parent," I was simply laden down with concern.
The moment his hospitalization was confirmed, my mind rushed into a frenzy of questions. How could I help? When would I have my shift in the hospital? How could I be of service in any way? I wanted to help all I could...that is, in the way I wanted to help.
Like every restless soldier yearning for his first battle, I wanted to have my share of the action. I wanted to help in the hospital, I wanted to help accommodate any visitors, I wanted to take charge of Kye. I repeated to my parents that I wanted to "really" help.
My parents assured me that they needed my help, but my assignment came in a way I didn't like. With my father presiding over decisions in the hospital and my mother watching Kye at night, I was assigned to stay at home base, cooking for anyone at home, watching the house, and being information center for anyone inquiring about Kye. I would usually have liked such responsibilities, but that time, I wasn't content.
"I want to help more!" I insisted to my mother as I pleaded for a chance to help at the hospital. I didn't want to stay running the domestic system. I wanted to prove my ability to take an adult's job in the crisis. I wanted to feel like I was really helping.
"Wen," my mother's tired voice was almost broken that day, "obeying IS helping!" She went on to say that obeying orders, staying at home, and taking care of everyone at home WAS helping. Real help wasn't insisting to do what others were doing; real help was doing what I had to.
Exhausted from her hospital shifts, my mom was near tears, and so was I. Her lecture was breaking down my mental system. She was challenging the way I thought...did I really want to help, or just to prove myself? If helping meant obeying orders and staying at home, would I help?
I cried to the Lord in my room that Monday afternoon. I had some lessons to learn.
It wasn't an easy pill to swallow, but it was something I had to learn. In different chapters of my life, there will be times when the best way to help would be to do what I least wanted. There are parents to obey today...but there will be pastors, teachers, and perhaps even a husband to obey in the future. If I can't obey, if I can't be content in doing my job, I would cause more harm than good. Even helping can have its selfish side, and God wanted me to give that side up.
By God's grace, Kye is well now. The family is functioning regularly again, with me assuming my daily duties at home and at church. If the lesson I learned stays with me, however, things will be different from now on. If I want to help, I have to obey. Obeying orders...easier said than done...yet ever important, and achievable by His grace alone.