Have you ever heard a cosmic call for help?
Almost like you’ve been tapped on the shoulder, like there’s some sort of alert that calls you to help out a fellow human being.
It could be something simple, like lending a hand to a stranger, or encouraging someone who’s having a bad day (or a bad moment).
At those times, it’s like something’s been put on your heart. You’re getting a call to action.
And you may really want to help, even believe you “should”, but still find reasons to keep quiet.
You tell yourself:
- I don’t even know that guy/girl.
- They’re going to think I’m crazy.
- What if they get mad.
- I don’t have time.
- It’s none of my business.
- I gotta get to work/home/someplace.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Most people probably go through a similar internal tug-of-war in those cases. I know I do.
A call to help
I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping at a department store when I noticed an older woman walk by. She seemed to be about eighty years old and she walked up and down the aisles looking in between the racks of clothes and on the ground. I didn’t think much of it.
Then I saw her pass again. She had an anxious look on her face. I noticed she hobbled a little and held on to tables as she walked past.
I figured she was looking for something she’d lost. By this time, I’d been in the store for a while and I was ready to head home. But I got that cosmic tap on the shoulder to offer to help, to at least ask her if she was okay.
Still, I started to leave the store without a word.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” I told myself and I started to leave.
Then I thought of my eighty-year old mom (who’s mobile and active, thank God). What if she needed help and people who could help her just walked away, like I was doing? Maybe she’d be okay, but having a little extra assistance could help her feel more secure.
I turned around and looked for the woman. “Are you okay? Can I help you find something?” I asked her.
She’d lost her cane
She explained that she was looking for her cane, that she’d been at the store the day before and thought she might have left it there. It hadn’t been turned in to store staff and she needed it.
I offered to help her look for it and she held my arm for support because she was a little more wobbly than I first realized.
She seemed disgusted that she’d lost something so important with no idea where she’d left it. (I hate when that happens!) I tried to reassure her and told her that happens to everyone, young and old alike.
We walked around a while looking for her cane until she decided that she’d lost it for good, maybe at another store she’d been to the day before.
I helped her out of the store. She thanked me for my help and we each went on with our day.
I tell you the story to illustrate the point:
I had to convince myself to act, to show this simple act of kindness.
That’s a hard thing for me to admit.
There should have been no question that I would help this woman even though she might have been okay without me. Even so, sometimes having someone to lean on when you’re feeling a little shaky can make a difference.
Sometimes people are put in your path because you can give them something they need: encouragement, a steady hand, an extra hand, a smile.
And you may need to convince yourself to answer the call and offer what you can easily give. There are times you may end up walking away from an opportunity like I started to do that day.
I could have easily walked away, gotten in my car and driven home.
But I think that if I had, I would have wondered what I could have done to help her and if she was okay. And, of course, it would have been too late.
What about you?
Does this sound familiar? Do you easily answer when you’re called to practice a random act of kindness? Or do you talk yourself out of it like I almost did that day and as I’ve done in the past.
Even when the call to help is loud and clear, you have to choose to act.
Practicing random acts of kindness
- helps connect us
- causes us to look at a person instead of looking past him/her
- can help a person feel like someone cares
- can make a difference in a person’s day
It’s okay if you have to convince yourself to act. Lots of us do.