Saturday, May 15, 2010


I have been thinking a lot about help, what it means to help someone, or to be helped by someone. Here is just some of what Webster's dictionary defines help as:

1. to make things easier or better for (a person); aid; assist, a) to give something which is necessary, as relief, succor, money, etc. b) to do part of the work of; ease or share the labor of c) to aid in (getting up, down, in, out, etc.) 2. to make it easier for (something) to exist, happen, develop, improve 3. to keep from, avoid, prevent

And this is just the verb portion of the definition! I know I am helped daily, often in ways I am unaware of, and I am immeasurably improved and enriched by the efforts of others in my life. I am also one that is unlikely to ask for help, I am loath to ask anyone to do for me that which I am perfectly capable of doing myself. But sometimes, when I've done all I know to do, I seek out help. I'm sure my friend Bob gets tired of my requests for help with my computer. He should probably tell me, "No, figure it out, learn and develop your own skills". But he doesn't, and I don't know why. Easier to fix it than to answer a thousand ignorant questions? Allows him to showcase his superior computer knowledge and skills? Just a darn nice guy that enjoys helping others? Probably all the above, and more.

Bev and I were watching an episode of Lost (we tend to lag 5-10 years behind popular cultural phenomenon), in which the mysterious John Lock was explaining to the lame drug addict Charlie what a double edge sword help really is. The analogy is a moth cocoon, the struggle the emerging moth goes through to free itself of the cocoon, is exactly what strengthens it so it can fly away and fulfill it's moth destiny. Helping it in any way weakens it, and the emerging moth would be incapable of flight. The Walking Moth, sounds like it could be a rock band.

So, this is my question, what is appropriate help? When is one making a difference for the good of another in need, and when is the helper just being co-dependent?

I ask this question for obvious reasons. All of my life I have been led to understand that helping others is a good thing, a moral imperative. The only instances in nature where one animal will help another is symbiotic relationships. There is always a one hand washes the other, so to speak, each animal reaping benefit from the other. But not with humans, we help one another constantly, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. I now struggle with this question, with my own motivations for helping others, with the apprehension of weakening instead of strengthening. This line of thought reinforces my aversion to asking for, or accepting help. But I also know that I don't have control over anyone but myself. Others will pray on my behalf, and offer help, and do things for me out of love.

So, I move forward, a seeker of truth and enlightenment. Sometimes a seeker of help, sometimes a giver. Wondering if I'm a walking moth, huddled up with other flightless bugs waiting for the bus.


  1. I think this is one of the hardest lessons of life - when to help and when not to. Maybe we can figure it out together. BTW, thanks for the *help* last night, giving me feedback on work stuff. Sigh...made me feel good ♥

  2. Help, like many other things is like water: you have to have it to get by and survive, but too much of it can hurt more than it helps. It sounds corny, but I look for divine inspiration when helping others. I try to be guided by the spirit. Each person's needs vary day to day.

    A song that has been on my mind a lot recently has been the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. "lord, make me an instrument of thy peace." as I read that prayer, I feel comfortable helping others in the ways he mentions.

  3. Thanks for helping me understand "help". Great post.

  4. Help is hard. When I want it I sometimes feel I can't get it and when I don't want it there is sometimes too much of it. Thanks for your help with the was just right!