How can you help someone who needs you?
A while back I was asked to do a workshop for folks who are working in difficult areas of ministries. Since I’m a wheelchair user, I was supposed to offer a seated perspective of things people have done that have been helpful and some that haven’t.
At the start of a new year I thought the list might be useful. These are some ideas. Hopefully you’ll help me with something I’ve missed.
Show up. I seem to always need help at inconvenient times, and I’m grateful for friends who show up even when they’d rather be somewhere else. There’s a difference between Signing Up And Showing Up.
It’s easy to say, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” It’s hard to ask for help. The real heroes are the folks who show up.
Don’t label. Labels isolate. When you label someone, you hide their individuality behind a category. The person in front of you isn’t a category—she’s a uniquely gifted, precious child of God. Here are some additional thoughts: God’s Version Of Special
I’ve been asked whether I prefer to be called “disabled,” “physically challenged,” or “mobility impaired.” Personally I prefer “Rich.”
Stay away from clichés and inspirational platitudes. “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Really? When you’ve just discovered you’re permanently paralyzed, that feels like a slap in the face.
Clichés can be like labels—they make us feel better without really having to do anything.
Change what you can change. World peace may be a bit too much to tackle, but some issues aren’t that complicated. A family living in their car doesn’t need a lecture on the benefits of facing adversity—they need shelter. A hungry child doesn’t need a gardening lesson—he needs a meal.
When snow keeps me from leaving my driveway, I understand the weather’s beyond my control. I’m grateful for folks who show up with some hot chocolate and a snow shovel.
Accept what you can’t change. Life isn’t fair. Some circumstances stink, and that’s just the way it is. Complaining, lamenting, and worrying only make it worse.
Be creative. I’m quick to decide a particular task or situation is hopeless or impossible. I’m astounded by the creativity people demonstrate in helping me discover how to do things that seemed beyond my capabilities.
Be realistically optimistic. I’ve explained The 8000/2000 Principle as my way of avoiding pessimism. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we focus on possibilities rather than obstacles.
Have a healthy sense of humor. When we’re struggling, everything becomes an earth-shattering crisis. It helps to keep some perspective and chuckle at life’s absurdities.
It’s never okay to laugh at someone’s misfortune. But we all find ourselves in silly circumstances, and it’s good to avoid taking things too seriously.
Choose hope. Most of all, I’m grateful for friends who helped me believe, and believed for me when I was so immersed in darkness that light seemed impossible.
I’m not talking about empty wishes—I wish someone would give me a bag full of money, but I’m not counting on it. I’m talking about hope that’s an expectation rooted in faith that Jesus always walks with me. Hope changes what’s possible.
Love. Agape is the self-sacrificial concern for others that makes it all work. Someone once said she felt frustrated because she didn’t know how to help, and it felt like all she could do was love me.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
What would you add?