I keep hearing people refer to that Mr. Rogers quote lately. You’ve probably heard it, too.
“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
2016 has been a tough year. Possibly the toughest year I have ever had on many levels. I can handle tough. God’s given me some good gifts and prepared me well. Often from giving me a front row seat watching people fight (and often slay) unbelievable dragons. I’m pretty strong and self-sufficient Truthfully it hasn’t come naturally or easily and there are still many areas in which I lack. Over time I’ve learned to deal with life head on, though. As I am, with both the strengths and weaknesses. In time that makes you more powerful…though you do bump your head and get a few stunning concussions in the process. But one thing I have learned (after quite a bit of muddling)…..it’s OK to need the helpers.
The sweetness with which friends and family have been there for me this year has overwhelmed me at times. I have become so strongly aware of what a great tribe I have created over the years. The messages, the texts, the phone calls, the hugs. People interrupted time with others to reach out and see if I needed them. One friend texted almost daily for a period of time just to make sure all was well. Each text was a precious gift, appreciated for the loving heart and supportive friend behind it. I received beautiful flowers that made me smile and reminded me not only of the beauty and fragility of life, but they were a constant reminder that these people who sent them were there if I needed them.
As an introvert (yes, I really am!) I tend to hole up a bit when times are tough, or only hang out around my family and a very few friends, whose presence is low key and soothing and easy for me to be around and who don’t expect anything from me I can’t easily give. Some friends knew that I was hibernating and let me be…a few others knew and when they thought it was needed made me engage anyway. They forced me out to lunch or dinner or to a community event. They’d respect the answer no, when I just couldn’t, but encouraged yes. In the end, it all seemed to balance to give me what I needed.
When I was around some people, there were some fumbles. Some people said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Some gave me things to worry about that I hadn’t even thought about. Some were just too….there. When I needed calm, they added chaos. But whatever their mis-step….I loved their hearts for trying.
There were those few people who hurt me. Some with words (because they, too, were hurting.) Some because of their lack of words. I understood some, and was exasperated by others. All are forgiven. Though keep in mind that forgiveness is an ongoing process sometimes, for those of us who are human. We’re imperfect, we mortals. But I can say I do wish the best for these folks…most of the time. I’m getting close to “all of the time”. That’s when I will have come to a place of full forgiveness, I think. Purely dependent on my actions and decisions, not on theirs. Truth is, these folks were such the minority that it is just another reason to be grateful.
This past week I had “one of those days”. The most difficult issue was finding myself at my office in Winston without my purse….and with about 60 miles to go before my car hit empty. It was a vulnerable feeling. I was supposed to go to Victory Junction that night to help crew so we could give tethered balloon rides for kids with cerebral palsy. When I mentioned my dilemma on Facebook (living alone it has become my roommate), it was all taken care of in minutes. More than one friend offered to help. My friend Denise “won”…..I appreciate her and her constant kindness. She provided dinner and gas money and directions to the 24-hour gas station,
One of my friends was talking about it last night and said “It almost made me want to post something similar and see if anyone would be there for me.” Yes, they would. I’d be first in line, but there would be others there fighting me. She has created a village of caring people around her and that’s what we do. I think most of you would find the same.
We can choose to live on this earth and try to do it all on our own, but I think that leads to a lonely and sad existence. The alternative is to celebrate the fact that we don’t have to. Much of our purpose is to care for each other. We are probably wired to be either givers or receivers in unequal proportion. One thing that I have learned the past few years is that I don’t always, shouldn’t always, have to be the giver. Sometimes it is time to receive. If you’re not used to it, it is uncomfortable at first. It’s also uncomfortable if you’re not used to giving. But when you allow either to happen, especially when it is difficult for you, you see God at work. You see others allowed to fulfill their purpose. You create bonds that are akin to steel and it’s like arms interlocked against whatever evil force lies ahead.
Look around you. Find the helpers. Don’t be afraid to tell them your needs. If they can’t help, ask someone else. You’ll find someone at the right time….or find within yourself what you need to solve your problem. God provides.
But also look for those times you are meant to help. Sometimes it requires you to open your eyes wider, not look away, or focus a bit more intently. Helpers look for people who need what they have to offer….and if they don’t have what is needed in a particular situation, they don’t dessert them until they help them find a solution. Sometimes the best help you can offer is to help find other helpers (I think that is my particular gift.)
I love helpers. I follow them around and try to get them to allow me to join them. It shouldn’t be a surprise when I see them in action for me. But it usually is. The sweetest kind of surprise. We are going to encounter hard times in this world. The helpers will make it better,