At my last retreat, ran on behalf of WhelUK , we went walking through the woods. I was excited about the many objects lessons that we would find. Whilst not consciously looking for anything in particular, I found many nuggets to share. We were refreshed and revived for the time spent in the fresh air and sunshine, our minds were cleared and we were able to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.
Among the many lessons that we learnt that day, one stood out. This one message was so clear, I had to emphasise its importance. This was poignant as it stood in contrast to how our society is today.
Individuals are minding their own business, keeping their heads down, missing precious opportunities to be available to others around us. Some hesitate unsure whether the help will be accepted. The sad result is isolation and and a lonely existence for many.
I have never forgotten the gentleman I worked with many years ago, he was very lonely and isolated, he had no friends to speak of knew anyone who would willingly spend time with him. He came to the agency daily and attended all our groups. We closed for the Christmas holidays and returned to work to the news that he had hanged himself. I was surprised at his funeral to see a chapel filled to capacity with people, many of whom were crying and others talking about how wonderful he was.
I shared their sentiments but was bemused, I thought, where were they one month ago when he was so lonely and needed human contact. I know the answer to this may not be a simple one, however, I share that story to highlight the importance of offering ‘you’ to someone who may just need that human contact to stay a float for a while. Many people suffer in silence unsure where to go for help or who to approach.
I have always personally thought and still do that it takes strength of character, to admit that there is a need, and to ask for help. However, knowing that did not exclude me from falling in this very trap. I kept this up for years building a strong shield of capableness and self sufficiency around me. There were times that inside that shell I would desperately need help but was unsure and sometimes unwilling to ask. Finally, I had to force myself to think about some very hard questions:
- Do l need support
- What do l need from other’s
- What can l give?
It was time to stop trying to live in a vacuum. We were not created to be islands, we should reach out and others will reach back. What I found was many who need me in ways I did not believe I had the capacity to give, and still don’t, but God’s grace is sufficient and He helps me be what I need to be for the person sitting across from me or on the other end of the phone, Skype, email, or text message.I found that I could accept the help others offered without embarrassment or feelings of indebtedness. I can graciously say thank you and not feel a compulsion to offer some help to pay for what they had done.
Now back to my story of our walk. Whilst walking we stumbled on these two trees, which immediately caught my attention. Looking closely you will see that one tree, standing firm with good strong roots is supporting the other. On closer inspection, it was clear that, had it not been for the stronger tree the one leaning would have fallen. The roots would have left the ground and it would have died.
The stronger tree not only kept it from falling, it enabled it to still be attached to the ground where its roots could continue to receive nourishment from the soil which kept it alive.
This is the kind of support we can offer to others. Be willing to offer our shoulders, hands, hearts, ears, or whatever is needed for a season until the other is strong enough to be self sustaining.
I feel the need to add that the offer of support must not become a co dependent relationship, know and protect your personal boundaries as you offer assistance. keep yourself safe and offer only what you are able at this time to give.