Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Helping Out

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had the privilege of being able to reach out and help some friends in a real, tangible way with some problems they've been going through. Along with some of the best girlfriends in the world, we've helped a few friends who were dealing with illnesses and some other "stuff" going on in their lives. We made meals, made phone calls, put together some goodie boxes, wrote some notes, helped out with gas money.

I'm not saying this to toot my own horn at all (because, oh my goodness, there is SO much more of this I need to do on an everyday basis!), but to just remind us all that THIS is what we are put in this world to do.

The human experience...this living on earth...is really only as meaningful as our actions toward others. I really don't believe we're put here to gain more "things," to have joy only for ourselves. We are here to reach out and lend a helping hand, to help others make it through life a little more easily, to SHARE the joy.

What surprises me sometimes is that some people have never been shown such kindnesses. One of the ladies we helped this past week had been in the hospital for some heart problems and we put together several meals for her husband and son. When we delivered the food one day, the husband said something to the effect of, "Who's doing this for us?" He seemed surprised by what we were doing. We explained and then later asked our friend what kind of help they'd received in the past (years ago, they'd had house fires and lost two children). She said they'd never been reached out to that way. That just shocked me. Aren't communities and friends and churches supposed to rally around and help out people in need?

I know I'm blessed for a couple of reasons in this regard.

First off, I was raised by parents who are very "others"-minded. They always taught me that it was our job--since we had more than others--to lend a helping hand. Some of my fondest and strongest memories of growing up revolve around the every Sunday visits we would take after church to two families and one older man. My parents were on our church's benevolence committee and part of their job was to deliver food every Sunday afernoon.

We had two families that we visited very week and we really got to know them. They had such joy when we came with our delivery and I think they sensed that we were doing this out of love and service, and not in any sort of condescending way. We were simply reaching out to others in our community.

We also visited Mr. Duncan for at least three years. He lived by himself (not sure where his children were) in a tiny one-room apartment. He loved when we visited and would sit and talk with my brother and I, giving us candy and telling us stories. He lived on a very fixed income, so one of my greatest joys ever was when he gave me a stuffed bunny rabbit for Christmas one year. He had thought enough of me to buy me a gift, even though he certainly couldn't afford it. I still have that rabbit--which I named Duncan--becuase it symbolizes those lessons I learned at home.

My parents always taught me that we reach out to friends, family, community members, strangers, even people around the world (my Mom, in fact, gave me as one of my birthday gifts a sponsorship for a community in Africa that struggles with malaria; in my name, she bought five nets that help filter the water system, which in turn helps battle malaria). It is one of the most important lessons ever taught me, and it's something I try and teach my children as well.

I am also blessed because I live in a part of the country where we naturally respond to people in this way. I know there are caring people all over the world, but there is something about the South. If we find out someone is sick, in the hospital, or dealing with a death...we start cooking! I probably help make a meal at least once a month for someone! The casserole dish is our way of helping people through their struggles. (Hey, food helps a lot!!)

Just a week or so ago, my parish minister told me something that I wrote down and underlined as soon as I heard it. He said, "Christianity is not about privilege. It's about service." ALL people need to be servants; it's obviously not a Christian-only thing and we see kind-hearted people in all faiths. But, as a Christian myself, I need to understand that this is the MOST integral part of my belief system. Being a Christian is not a privilege to brag about or to be puffed up about or to expect others to admire us for; it's ONLY about service. It's about reaching out, helping out, serving others...because we have been loved so much and we can't help but pass it on.

23 comments:

Disney Scrapper said...

Funny, I heard a similiar sermon Sunday. My first thought was that this is something we as Christians should already know. In many ways Jesus came to service those who were sick, abandoned, forgotten. Even minister's are called to serve. Thanks so much for sharing this. I to am amazed when you help someone in its seems foreign to them.

Nina Diane said...

that's great Cheryl.
we were always taught to help our neighbor.

Gin said...

So true, Cheryl. Great post this morning.

Dawn Bibbs said...

Cheryl, what an awesome post. And you're right, part of the Southern charm is how we think of others. And being a Christian myself, I've found that giving is actually one of my Spiritual Gifts.

It's so funny that you post this today too. Yesterday, I spent the day with a friend who recently had a baby girl (she has 2 boys already). A week after having her daughter, she was back in the hospital having a semi-emergency surgery to remove a cyst that had grown, along with her baby, to the size of a basketball! So along with the regular,delivery recovery, she had another 6 weeks tacked on. SOOO, I said all that to say, that the girl was going a little sitr crazy :-). And she wanted/needed some adult interaction. Her mom came in town for a few weeks, but wasn't much help. It was so nice to just sit and talk with her yesterday. Her baby, poor thing, had terrible colic and acid refulx. So she cried all the time (so did the baby...lol). The baby wants to be held all the time because her little belly is so gassy. My friend can hardly do things around the house because the baby needs her all the time and won't nap. Isn't it Murphy's law, that the day I go visit, the baby napped for 4 hours? Poor thing hasn't napped for more than 15 minutes in the past 3 days. My friend was so relieved and so happy to be able to just SIT.

Sorry for such a long story. But it was so appropriate for your wonderful post today. Thanks again for being such an encouragement. Have a beautiful day.

Greta said...

Cheryl... I am so glad that there are actually still people in this mad, crazy world like you. You are a true role model and a great mother. i need to come by and learn some mothering techniques from you for that kid of mine we call Melana...grrrrrrr!!!!

Adrienne said...

What a great post!!! I know you helped "ME" yesterday!!! Thank you! :-)

Leah said...

Thank you so much for a very thought provoking post. Very well said!

Cheryl Wray said...

Disney--Just a message we all need to be reminded of, isn't it?

Nina-So important to be taught that. But sadly there are some people who aren't.

Gin--Thanks!

Dawn--I love your story and it souds like you were just a godsend to your friend. I know she is just overwhelmed, but you being there really helped her. Maybe you should go visit her more often; the her baby would sleep more. lol

Greta--Oh now...I'm not the perfect mom. I wish I was. And Melana is just going through a stage. It will get better!

Adrienne--I'm glad Jaelyn got to hang out with Delaney. They had fun. Aytime you need me to get her is no problem!

Leah--Thanks!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Cheryl~ you are something else!
God bless you~

Mississippi Songbird said...

I know.. it feels so good to be able to help othe5rs..
God Bless you ..

Heather said...

Great post Cheryl. I really think that being of service to others is a wonderful thing! Hugs to you. Thanks for the comment on my blog!

Gretchen said...

Cheryl, what a beautiful post about our purpose in life. It's so true. Hey, I invite you over to my blog to pray for a little princess. I'm hosting a 24 hour prayer chain for her on Friday.

Blessings.

Delia said...

This is a wonderful post and a great reminder. Thanks.

I also have to say...you're so right, we Southerners truly believe food is a cure-all! lol.

skrpndiva said...

Thanks for this reminder! I try to live my life by helping others as much as I can.

Jacquie

Maria said...

Cheryl, I love your post. Your giving heart shows in everything you do, but I am so glad you are sharing this by writing it down. I think sometimes we tend to not say something in fear of "not blowing our own horn" when in reality, we should talk about these things as they might just be a way to inspire others...and to have our children read from our very own words what it means to do and be who we are.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for the reminder. We need to all have a helping hand for other to depend on. Have a great day.

Linda said...

C - My family hails from the south and yet I have always had unfortunate encounters and experience in organized religion and as a result I don't attend an "ORGANIZED" church. My church is the backyard and nature, God, the beauty of divinity. I believe first and foremost not in the organization of a certain religion but in the development of my personal spiritual relationship wih God. This has allowed me to sit outside the pew so to speak and interact with people from all religions, baptist, buddhist, whatever. I am an extremely spiritual person and belive, faith, in and of itself is the primary reason for our being. One of my favorite authors and a lady who I have had the privilege of hearing many many of her lectures, teaches this principal. That we are not here to accumulate those things we think are best for us, but that in service to others, we receive the very best of everything. I think about this when I read your post. You are blessed also by the lesson that you have been given and passed to others. Thanks sweetie, for this awesome and tender post. One of my favorite things that Carolyn Myss says is that you can save a life, change a life, make a huge difference in a life, just by smiling at a stranger. Your Post today is a big huge smile. Thanks again. Hugs

Liz Ness said...

You are such a big heart and I'm so glad you shared this story and awesome reminder! I grew up in a small town and that was the way of life there. I've been a little stumped in the city, but have had friends show me the ropes and am happy when we can help others...it's so good for everyone involoved!

Kelly said...

well said.

Jenster said...

Great post! I've been on both ends of the spectrum and both have their own special rewards.

Way to show God's love, Cheryl!!

dana said...

Very hearrt-warming post!! Congrats on Unpubbed too! Can't wait to see your design!!

Kari said...

Great post. I know that I've failed to live up to what I should be doing as far as helping others. I let shyness get in the way and don't know where to start sometimes. I am in awe when I hear of others giving so selflessly of themselves. I'm working on overcoming this shyness thing. I've even signed up for some activities at my boys' school. Maybe that will help me to get started (fingers crossed, eh?).

NY KAT said...

What a great, inspiring post!