Thursday, July 11, 2013

Evaluating Help

Don't get me wrong, I love to have help.  I love for a friend to stop by and pick up a paint roller or bring us a pizza or (when they were littler) watch one of my kids.  We try to find ways to help others as we go throughout our day.  

But I've noticed a problem in the help department.  Maybe it's because I'm a teacher and have seen this in my students more often now than I have in the past.  What's the problem?  Those who want to help the way they want to help.  

Consider this example, Hannah likes to bake desserts.  She has some favorite recipes.  If our widow neighbor is diabetic and can't eat many sweets, baking her a pan of brownies won't be a help to her.  But it's Hannah's signature dish.  It's what she wants to make.  

Or this one, we have a friend who has two rambunctious kids.  They are hard to handle and almost impossible to take anywhere.  She needs to go to the grocery.  We offer to take her list and go for her, but in her heart what she really wants is a quiet little break at the grocery store.  But we don't want to watch those kids.

What would be a blessing to these two?

Around here that's how we evaluate our help.  Are we doing what we want to do or are we doing what they really need and/or want us to.  Because if we're helping in a way that serves us more than it serves them, then we need to change our focus.  

Hannah needs to search her cookbooks for a diabetic-friendly dessert, even if it's not her signature dish.  We need to spend a few hours with some rowdy kids in order to bless the mom who is feeling overwhelmed.  

I can hear someone out there say, "But she's raising those kids.  If they're hard to handle and she can't take them anywhere, maybe she should do something different.  She needs to lie in the bed that she's made."  

Have you ever been stuck in a situation of your own making?  Has someone ever come alongside you during that time and offered a helping hand?  If so, then you understand that those who need help due to their own choices are the ones who just might appreciate it the most.  I've been there.  And I was so thankful when help arrived.

If someone's house burns down and they don't have insurance, it's not helpful to stand back and say, "they should have been insured."  What would be helpful?  If possible, the best help comes from those who ask what the immediate needs are.  Maybe restaurant gift cards would be helpful so they could feed their family that day.  Maybe they need a place to stay and you could offer a room or two for them to catch their breath and think clearly.  If it's not possible to ask, then do your best to put yourself in their shoes.  Think about what would be a blessing to you in a similar situation and then act on it.  

Helping is a wonderful thing.  Around here being a blessing means filling the needs of others the way they need them filled.  Sometimes that will work out just the way we want it to.  Other times we may need to step out of our comfort zone and do some hard work.  Don't worry, it's good for us.  And at the end of the day when we look back, we'll find we received far more than we gave.

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