We grow up wanting to help – wanting to contribute, to make a difference.
However, I propose we let go of the word help and use bless, instead.
The thing is, helping our someone implies we have been of assistance or provided needed resources. Yet like enthusiastic toddlers, our efforts rarely provide actual assistance — a new job is not found, a cure is not obtained, a loss is not recovered. Since we rarely have time to learn new skills and carry out tasks to completion, the challenge our someone is facing does not seem improved by our efforts. We wanted to help but we suspect we have not helped at all.
Blessing someone is different than helping.
Definitions overlap, but at the heart help has concrete goals, while blessings focus on intangibles — kindness, mercy, consideration. Help addresses big things in life such as improved health or financial stability, while blessings focus on the little things in life that may ease burdens and warm hearts — a flower, a shoulder to cry on, an errand.
The toddler isn’t truly helping dad fix the stove but is blessing dad nevertheless.
By just being there alongside dad, the little one shows she cares, she is interested. She senses her dad is facing some kind of struggle, and her presence demonstrates her support. She signals I am here, I’m available, I’m willing to step into a messy part of life with you.
We can do the same thing, even when we feel unable to truly help.
Simple acts of blessing are also more realistic and do-able than heroic efforts to help. Young or old, most of us can…
- share our company,
- do a small act of service, or
- bring a little gift.
When you set out to bless someone, there is no need to worry whether, in the end, your efforts will actually benefit or fix the situation. The job may not get done any sooner, the problem may not be solved, but we can still bless our someone along the way.
Definitions of bless can include an aspect of holiness which may not relate to your situation. However, remarks such as that was a blessing or I was blessed are just as often non-religious in nature, expressing a simple awareness that something positive has happened — possibly something small, but it was unexpected and unearned and good.
With a little forethought about the blessings we might offer, we can build confidence in our ability to bless someone…
and let go of the fear that we won’t be able to help.
Blog #2, Comments: Do you have a funny story about trying to “help”? If you look back on a failed attempt at helping, does your perspective change when you tell yourself that you offered a “blessing”?