A few months ago I was in the Grayson Publix. It was a quick trip to grab a few things. I didn’t have any of my brood with me; I didn’t have many groceries; and it was h-o-t outside. So when the bagger, an older gentleman, offered to help me out to my car, I politely declined. He had to offer because it was part of his job, so I thought I was being kind by not having him schlep my groceries for me out in the heat. However, his response was not relief.
His shoulders slumped a little, and he looked down-trodden.
“No one needs my help anymore,” he said wistfully as he shifted his attention to the next customer and began bagging the groceries sliding down the ramp.
I wondered if he even realized that he had said it out loud. My heart broke. My attempt at kindness was completely misplaced.
We have become so proud and focused on our pursuit for independence that we have forgotten the importance of depending on each other. We have forgotten the strength we can gain when we lean on one another. By humbling ourselves into the help of our neighbor, we begin a cycle of giving. By accepting the efforts of another, we allow them to be our strength for a moment. We all have a need to be needed. I know that I genuinely enjoy when I am able to help someone in some way. When I can share some quality that I have with someone else, I feel useful, strong, and needed. By opening ourselves up and linking together, we become a chain. A single link isn’t useful for much. But bound together, our uses multiply.
As we go about our day, we think about helping others. It is something that crosses our minds now and then. It has been drilled into us by our conscience, by our religion, and by our heart. We can recognize when someone needs assistance. And we often jump to action.
But sometimes we need to be the need to someone else.
Sometimes we need to let another person do for us what we could probably do for ourselves. Not to make it easier on ourselves, but to give the gift of assisting to another. We need to put our pride aside long enough to tune into those around us.
When someone offers, “Please let me know if there is anything I can do,” they often mean it. But few people actually accept the offer.
Now, I know that this gets into a fine line between building each other up and taking advantage. But most things in life that are worth the effort toe a proverbial line here or there. Many things that hold the most potential to make a difference in us or in others, have the potential to also cause the most pain somehow.
I will admit that, generally, I don’t like to get help from people. I don’t like to admit that I need anyone. But lately I have noticed that people really do want to help others. Not that everyone wants to help all the time. That’s unrealistic and unsustainable. But there is a desire for supporting others innate in us. For some the desire is stronger than others. Still, humans need to feel connected in some way.
Biologically we are social animals. We need to feel a bond with someone other than ourselves. Even Chuck Noland needed Wilson. The exchange of giving and receiving assistance is a powerful way to connect. You can make the argument about how nothing is completely altruistic and that people help others because, in some way, they get some pleasure or benefit out of it. I actually think that is absolutely true. (I can only think of one completely altruistic act, and it’s a doozy.) And there might be very selfish reasons that the offer to help is given.
But so what? So…what???
I don’t think that fact has to sully the beautiful acts of kindness we can show each other.
I still forget sometimes, when someone offers their help. The I-wouldn’t-want-to-impose voice in my head is one of the loud ones. But I try to remember the bagger at Publix that hot day.
And when I do, I will the be the need at that moment. And I will accept with gratitude.