Is it possible to help too much?comment (0)
April 4, 2013
By Jennifer Davis Rash
We can’t ask them to leave. That would be rude, especially after all they have done for us this week.”
Through a whispered conversation in the kitchen, my friend and her mother debated how to deal with the pair of neighbors who had returned for the third night in a row. It was nearing midnight and the residents of the house had passed exhaustion hours earlier, but here they stood preparing coffee and snacks for their guests.
A beloved family member had died earlier in the week and the outpouring of love from the community had been truly amazing. The meals, cards, calls, visits, flowers and acts of service were appreciated beyond what words could express.
But some visitors stepped over the line from supportive and helpful to basically moving in and allowing, and possibly expecting, the bereaved family to wait on them.
A few months earlier, I watched another friend walk around in a daze after his father’s funeral attempting to redirect the longwinded visitors from his mother. She had not slept in days and was mustering all the strength she could to keep herself upright. She certainly couldn’t carry anyone else’s weight.
“People have been incredible,” my friend explained to me as he listed all the ways church members, neighbors, friends and others had reached out to them. “But …” pausing to second guess his assessment, he said it seems some people are competing to win an “I cared the most” award.
Instead of pacing themselves and spreading out the help, the friends and neighbors were rushing to aid his family all at the same time, he explained. “And then some of the ones who stay the longest carry on heavy conversations about politics, the world and routine life issues, all of which we could care less about right now.”
It’s understandable how it happens. When a death occurs, the family and close friends tend to gather in a central location because it’s comforting to be together. Sometimes that gathering is attractive to those who want to be, but aren’t, part of the inner circle and thus they hang around keeping the attention focused on themselves rather than being sensitive to time and appropriateness. Other times, their heart is sincere and they truly are trying to help. They think if they can keep the person’s mind occupied on other things, then the pain won’t hurt as much.
Neither is actually helpful once the person has stayed too long, but it probably makes the person feel good about his or her efforts.
Don’t get me wrong — I do think showing up is always right. Members of a bereaved family need friends who will cry with them, listen to them, help them with daily tasks and basically be there for them.
At the same time, I think there is a point where the help becomes overwhelming and exhausting to the recipients.
And mixed in the middle may be a grieving family wearing a public face of having it all together. Discerning what is appropriate may not be easy, especially if family members won’t share honestly what they need and don’t need.
I am learning that when there is an obvious need and I can meet it, then I should take care of it rather than merely stating, “Let me know if I can do anything.”
I also believe the Holy Spirit impresses upon us ways in which we can help if we are paying attention.
For other tips related to helping those who are grieving and for resources for those who are currently experiencing grief, see pages 8 and 9.
Accept the challenge to learn new skills — don’t be afraid
My youngest daughter, Leah, works for a direct-mail advertising company. She received good training for this assignment during her four years at the University of Alabama. Leah has flourished in her job and has been “promoted” several times. But each of the steps up has also meant more pressure, more responsibility, more change.
Change is not easy for Leah. She prefers things settled and routine.
She talks with me regularly about job issues. I have told her numerous times, “Every change you experience in the workplace is like a continuing education opportunity that is equipping you for the future. You will learn new skills, new assignments, new ways of relating to workmates and new ways to cope well with the stress of change. These newly learned skills put you in a position for greater job responsibility in the future. So choose not to be overwhelmed by change in the workplace so you can maximize your learning.”
I’ve also shared with Leah and my other two children, “When change and adjustment come to the workplace it is easy for the rumor mill to start grinding and to find yourself in the middle of workplace gossip. Your fellow workers feel scared so they start bad-mouthing. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into this. You will destroy your credibility and trust with your superiors. Rise above workplace gossip.”
I am convinced most workers today don’t fully appreciate the skills they have received from their jobs. For example, many middle-aged and older adult workers learned computer skills from their jobs. If computers had not been brought into the workplace, most of these folks would not have computer skills today. Think of the numerous seminars provided by the workplace on leadership, time management and more. Employees benefit more than I think they realize.
You are a leader
Whether you are a clerk or a CEO, a homemaker or a highly paid professional, life will consistently call on you to provide leadership.
Rather than shrink from that call believing that leadership is limited to a few creative and gifted individuals, rise to the challenge by reminding yourself that leaders are both born and made.
Many of the world’s greatest leaders evolved from humble beginnings.
Peter Drucker, one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership, noted: “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”
Victor M. Parachin
Pastor and author
One businessman declared “email bankruptcy,” deleted his inbox and started over when it got unmanageable.
We might declare “relationship bankruptcy” by forgiving old grudges and seeking out for reconciliation those from whom we’re estranged.
Jesus was pretty clear in Matthew 18 about the importance of being on good terms with everyone insomuch as possible.
Michael J. Brooks
Put a Stoppin’ to Stinkin’ Thinkin’ …
An excerpt from Rondie Wilks’ LivingFit News at http://livingfitonline.com — Rondie is a personal fitness trainer and member of Northpark Baptist Church, Trussville, where her husband, Bill, serves as pastor.
1. Never think or speak negatively about yourself, which puts you in disagreement with God.
2. Meditate on your God-given strengths, learn to encourage yourself and have an “I can” attitude about yourself and others.
3. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. You are unique, a one of a kind. The best person you can be is the person God made you to be.
4. Focus on your potential, not your limitations. Have a positive attitude. Remember Who you belong to.
5. Find what you like to do, do it well and strive to be the very best you can for the glory of God.
6. Have the courage to be different. Be a God pleaser, not a people pleaser.
7. Learn to handle criticism. Let it develop you. Have a good attitude and know that we can always learn from others and improve.
8. Determine your worth by the Truth of God’s Word instead of letting others determine it for you.
9. Keep your shortcomings in perspective. Do not be afraid to fail. Be confident that with God all things are possible.
10. Focus daily on your greatest source of confidence … the God who made you and loves you.