I’m a helper. I have been for as long as I can remember…I’d be shocked to hear that there was even a time before my memory when I wasn’t.
I Love To Help.
You’re in pain? I bet I can find a way to help. You’re in trouble? I can help. You need advice? I’m your girl.
I, personally, believe that God put us here so that we CAN help each of his children. He gives us gifts that enable us to help others. He puts us in situations that will give us the ability to help. He lets us face tribulations so that we can help those who face them after us.
So, not only do I love to help…I believe that I’m SUPPOSED to help.
(Bare with me on this next part, I swear there’s a purpose. I’ve even centered and italicized it so that you can see where, what looks like it’ll be all whining all the time, begins and ends. lol)
But…if I’m being very, very honest…I sometimes start to feel hurt when it becomes one sided. I start to feel overburdened by helping too many and I start to notice the help that I’m not receiving in return.
I tend to feel that way a lot during tax season. Being exhausted doesn’t help, I’m sure. But the biggest part of it…I honestly really do love that I have a skill that I can use to help others. If I’ve ever offered to do your taxes for free, it’s an act of love. Both love of you AND love of what I do. But that offer goes to those who are a huge part of my life and are there for me in the same ways…or to those who I know really need the help for one reason or another. Yet, right around February…like clockwork…people I only hear from at that time of year are coming to me and remembering how MUCH they love me and how much they miss me and, “By the way…can you help me with some tax stuff?”. And it’s expected for free. (In all seriousness, please note…this is NOT about my friends who have asked if they can pay me or those I offer to do for free.) In a time of year where I’m already extremely busy and stressed…honestly, I get to add to it that I’m only good to those people for one thing. This year that was exacerbated. I have a core group of people who have been there every step of the way for/with me with the broken leg and the process of finding out what was going on with my heart. Those are my people. Those are my ride or dies. And then…I have the rest of the world…I’m not (nor should I be) a priority for them…and so I didn’t even hear from them in the time that I was trying to straighten all of this out and deal with that fear. But, man they remembered me come tax time. And THAT hurt.
And that’s where I’ve been for the past couple of days. Really, genuinely hurting…more and more with every “Hey!! You want to do my taxes?! What do you mean you’d have to charge? Ohhhh…” Feeling like I should help, because I can. Feeling like it’s my duty. Feeling like…it’s my burden.
I don’t believe God wants me (or any of us) to feel that way. Helping each other is supposed to feel like a joy to serve. It is not supposed to feel like a burden.
So then I feel guilty. God doesn’t want me to do his work with resentment and sadness. He doesn’t want me doing it begrudgingly. I must be a terrible person for having these feelings? Right? RIGHT?!?! TELL ME I’M AWFUL!!!
So, yes, that hole has been getting deeper and deeper as I pulled away more and more from, honestly, the last people I should be pushing away…because I’m useless to everyone, right?
And, I THINK God tried to give me that message this morning.
I was sitting at Goldberg’s working…when suddenly…in stereo…20 phones started going off…all around me…with an Amber Alert. Even my phone because I got a new phone yesterday and hadn’t turned off those alerts yet. (For those who are new to this story…I have PTSD from being parentally abducted for 10 years as a baby…I have VERY strong reactions to Amber Alerts and I was advised by a doctor to turn them off. So, my amazing friends promised to leave theirs on so that I would feel less guilty for not having mine on.)
After I started to bring myself down from fight or flight mode, I reached for my phone to turn off the alerts.
And I sat there for a solid 20 minutes trying to force myself to do it.
Because it is my duty to help these kids. I, more than most, know the hell that these children are about to face…no matter who took them and no matter how long they are gone…this will shape the rest of their lives. I know this because I’ve been them…and, over the years, I’ve learned how to help. And how DARE I turn off an alert?
And then I had this feeling come over me…that feeling that I always get when He is trying to make me understand something. I had this feeling of peace saying,
“It’s ok. You can’t help them if you’re hurting yourself.”
If I am so surrounded by my own grief and pain, I can’t help them. If I’m still too lost, how do I help someone else find themselves? If I’ve pushed myself to a point of weakness, how do I help them find their strength again?
And then it clicked. That’s true in all things.
How can I help anyone if I’m hurting myself?
Yes. God wants me to help everyone that I am capable of helping…without hurting myself in the process. God wants me to find a joy…and even a peace in my tribulations…by helping His other children. He wants that for all of us. He never wants it to be a burden.
So He wants us to learn that we have to help ourselves, too.
We have to say no when we have no more capacity. We have to prioritize those who need us the most. We have to step away from things that we KNOW will bring us too much pain to be able to see clearly enough to see who HE is pointing us to…I have to turn off the alerts…
Or, at least, I think that’s what He’s trying to tell me. It feels right. It feels like that parental smack on the back of the head saying, “NOW do you get it?!”
So…Dear God, Is that what you meant? Blink Twice for yes.