A Helping Hand

There’s been a lot of folks in my life that gave me a helping hand. It has inspired me to return the gestures because there are times in all of our lives that we need help getting back up. Sometimes it’s a literal hand and other times it’s figurative but the point remains that we all have days where we stumble. The worst feeling in the world is when you stumble and everyone sees it. In this day of social media, we are all more susceptible to going viral than we may wish for. When I think of victims of natural disasters, my mind starts wondering what I can do to help. Many times it could be through gestures of money but other times just being present can make a world of difference.

I have a friend who lost everything she owned in a fire. It’s been quite a few years since that happened but when the fire occurred, she lost all the pictures she had of her family. She lost heirlooms that may not have been worth a ton of money to someone else, but to her they were priceless. The quilt her great grandmother made and passed down was destroyed, the pieces of furniture that her family had let her have was gone. There was nothing left and yet, she had peace of mind knowing that her community was helping her get back on her feet. Not everyone is so fortunate. There are many who don’t know where they are going to sleep when their home is destroyed. When tragedy happens, it’s really difficult to know where a person is going to be able to get a meal or get the necessities they may need for various issues. That’s why non-profits and groups that give the helping hand to those who need it most are invaluable to all of us.

Over the last few months, the world has had to deal with COVID-19. We’ve had to deal with the loss of jobs for many of us. There’s been a significant decrease in income. Restaurants and other retail stores have had to adjust how they handle business. Every single person has had to take on stricter guidelines in order to ensure safety. Handwashing has increased dramatically. Counters, tables, desks, chairs, doors, floors, everything you can think of that we touch has had to be wiped down consistently. Nothing has been left to chance. People have died from the disease and in spite of all the difficult transitions, there’s been a help in many different corners. Some of the businesses loosened the belt on what people owed. Not all. But overall, a conscientious effort was made to give as much relief as possible with people being homebound. Churches were forced to operate with Livestreaming. In-person services were almost impossible until Phase 2 was allowed and even with all the restrictions, there were members of various congregations who would check up on those who needed assistance most.

I’ve spoken a lot about my Dad. To me, he was the epitome of kindness and goodness. Dad always tried to see the best in people. He didn’t take anything for granted. He knew that people were struggling in so many areas of their lives. As a Pastor, Dad really didn’t like his role. It was too political and the expectations of people were very taxing. It took the death of my Grandfather for my father to want to go to school to help other pastors that had very little income to prepare for retirement. Two of the most tedious tests that my father had to pass in order to become a Certified Financial Planner was the Series 7 and Series 24 exams. Both exams he had to take more than once in order to obtain his certifications. Dad reached out to others for help. He learned that it wasn’t a weakness to admit that he needed assistance with achieving his goal. It actually took more strength to admit that he needed help and he was very grateful for the helping hands that he received.

One of the other roles that my father had in his life was that of a nursing home administrator. It was through that career that I learned about how helping the elderly was crucial for all of us. When you’re young, you don’t think about aging. It’s just a phrase that you think is completely bogus. But as you age, you become more aware of your own mortality. The joints and muscles start complaining about the older you get. The hearing could get worse and eyesight begin to dissipate. Digestive systems may have more complications and trying to remember things can become more daunting. Helping hands may be needed as we all age. Especially when we get closer to retirement. I will never forget a woman at the nursing home that my father ran. Her name was Mabel. She had Multiple Sclerosis. She couldn’t have been more than 55. She was one of the youngest residents that were in the home. Her needs were plenty. Her body was shutting down and her family didn’t feel they could care for her. One of the saddest things a person can see is when folks go to a nursing home and no one comes to visit. It’s really disheartening to think of people as being forgotten but it happens far too often. That’s why residents perk up when some of the younger folks start visiting. It brings a spark to them. They have their own sense of helping hands because you don’t have to physically touch someone to give them a hand. A handwritten note, a card, a phone call, or a visit when this virus isolation is lifted can give the world to some of the folks who feel forgotten.

It’s not just nursing homes and assisted living. Helping hands are everywhere. The most incredible thing about the spirit of giving back is that many times, we all play a part in helping someone in ways we never thought possible. Just paying attention to others and seeing someone who is having a crappy day be turned around by our gestures is an incredible feeling. When a loved one dies, there are people who reach out and let you know they are there. Words are easy to say when someone passes but it’s harder to come through for others when various lengths of time go by. There’s no timetable to grief and yet if it hadn’t been for those who gave me a helping hand when I needed it most, I don’t know that I would have been able to stand on my own two feet. Sometimes it just takes time. Other times it takes a combination of things but the one constant is love.

When we all share different forms of love, we are giving a helping hand to everyone we interact with. Love knows no color. It doesn’t know religion. Love doesn’t label itself as one type of love. Love is constant. It flows in us to allow us to be able to empathize and feel deeply. So keep being a helping hand with love as a driving force. It’s love that gives the hands and gestures that are made, such a lasting effect. So here’s a challenge for each of you. Close your eyes when you are around others. Count to three. When you open your eyes, look around you. Watch people’s body language. When you spot a person who is really struggling, help them if you can. Do a kind gesture out of the blue for someone you don’t know. When everything is said and done, we are all a part of a huge network that can help each other.

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