I reread the story about the three strangers visiting Abraham and Sarah. We know these are not three ordinary people. They are angels, emissaries of God. Abraham does not walk towards the angels; he rushes to help. But his hurrying doesn’t astonish me.
Something else surprises me even more.
There is very little hesitation from the angels. Abraham offers his service and the angels accept.They eat. They drink. They relax.
Unlike many of us, there is no dramatic holding up of hands and protesting, “No, no, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Rather, clearly in need, the angels accept the help that is offered.
This may be one of most missed opportunities our Torah presents. The reason being, many of us can’t bear to accept help from others. Whether because it shows our vulnerability or that we’re just not perfect, accepting help admits to ourselves and others that we just can’t do it all. That under our seemingly flawless veneer, more than one weakness waits in hiding. Even if accepting kindness is exactly what we need to get through the day, we hesitate and reject… for the sake of saving face.
But here’s the catch: accepting help is often less about us and more about the one who offers.
Dr. John Gottman, the eminent couples’ therapist explains that at the heart of every relationship is something called bids for connection. When a spouse, friend, child, parent, or someone close offers to help, they are offering more than a favor. The person is asking to be seen through the opening of their hands. They’re asking us to accept their bid. When we close our hands to someone that offers help, it is a sign of rejection. Rejection of the relationship and rejection of the connection.
What happens immediately after the angels accept Abraham’s hospitality? The angels reveal that Abraham and Sarah will have a child. A connection was built. An opening offered. A pathway cleared for the angels to extend the most beautiful words of prophecy.
Accepting help is permitting another child of God to further understand their purpose and reason for being.
May we rush to help and eagerly, rush to receive. Amen.