When Helping Hurts

Helping others is something that we all should do, but it can quickly run amuck if we don’t examine our motives for reaching out to others. For years, I reached out to “help” others as a way of self-medication. At the root of my desire to help was selfishness. I was helping others to make myself feel good about myself. When you help others with anything other than a selfless attitude it can lead to disaster.

Helping those in need can get messy. We have to become vulnerable and sometimes we just might get hurt, but that is what reaching out to others is about. It’s risky business in reality when we step out and give freely of ourselves. We have to be willing to be rejected by those we are reaching out to and learn not to take it personally. If we truly wish to help someone we have to divorce ourselves from deciding what the outcome should be. When we help others with our own agenda in mind we will almost always be disappointed.

In order to learn how to help others, I think, we first need to be on the receiving end of help. I was “helped” by people throughout my life; some people had their own motives and others just helped out of a desire to help with no investment in the outcome. When people helped me with no strings attached it was easier to receive than when someone was helping out of their own agenda. So many people “helped” me with strings attached that after awhile I became angry at people who offered to help me. This anger stemmed from the feeling that once they “helped” me I would forever owe them. This thinking gave me a distorted view of God.  It seemed to me that if He was going to help me, than I better walk the straight and narrow or there’d be trouble.

This lie kept me from being able to truly receive God’s love for myself.  It took me some time to realize that not everyone who offered to help me wanted something in return. After gaining this knowledge I was in turn able to begin to give freely to others. We must be mindful when helping others of the example we are setting. Sometimes we are the only example of God some people get to see and if we aren’t careful we can plant a seed of distrust in them.

Helping can be a wonderful thing when we let go of our pride and expectations and just give freely from our heart. Something that helps me is remembering that sometimes it’s my job to plant the seed and someone else’s job to water it, and sometimes I don’t get to see the harvest. Slowly, I’m learning to be patient and trust that God knows the people He’s called me to reach out to, far better than I, and He knows exactly what they need at the exact time they need it. Trusting God’s timing is the key to being able to truly help others.

“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond…” ― Jessy and Bryan Matteo This quote reminds me that sometimes planting the seed has a huge impact that we may never get to see, but it still has the same impact whether we see it or not.

Who can you reach out to today?

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