Nowhere is this more evident than when we are trying to help another person. It is in our nature to help. We sympathize. We empathize. We want to ease that person’s burden. Our intentions are noble and we are called to help one another as much as we possibly can. However, time and time again, we learn that we are not able to save people from themselves, their decisions, or their situations. It is not our job. As much as we try, we cannot move them off of their own path – whether they’ve chosen it or not, it is a way they must experience fully.
…time and time again, we learn that we are not able to save people from themselves, their decisions, or their situations.
This can be difficult to reconcile internally. Tough to accept. As leaders, drivers, and people wired to push envelopes, never quit, and solve problems, it is nearly impossible to accept that you cannot fix another person or their situation. As a parent, son, business owner, volunteer, coach, friend, and brother, I have experienced this sensation in various ways with various levels of frustration. Why won’t they listen? Why am I not getting through? Why am I failing to help?
Like most things in life, it becomes a matter of perspective. The first step is to realize that no one’s journey is easy. It isn’t meant to be. We are built to persevere, overcome, find our way. To reach our potential, we must face the bumps and push through. To find our place in life, we have to take the long road. There are no exceptions. There are no shortcuts.
The next step is to understand the nature of our call to help one another. We are not here to help others OUT of their challenges. We are here to help them THROUGH their challenges. There is a profound difference between solving someone’s problem and helping them solve it themselves. Or, perhaps more accurately, helping them find ways to push past their problem.
Understand, a person’s problems are their own. A challenge is a very intimate, personal affair. Someone’s problem might effect you in some way, but it is still theirs. How it effects you is yours. When we engage to help another, our goal should be support, counsel, love, sincerity, empathy, and kindness. Holding another’s hand through pain is an incredibly generous act and is often all that other person needs to find their own way.
Holding another’s hand through pain is an incredibly generous act and is often all that other person needs to find their own way.
So the next time you see a friend, co-worker, loved one, or stranger suffering in some fashion, consider how you might help them through the situation rather than how you can help them out of it. Try to think of it as a growth point along their journey; one that will take them to the next version of themselves. Sometimes your greatest gift to that person is to simply be present as they work through it. Sometimes the greatest gift we can receive is the opportunity to serve as we bear witness to the suffering of another.