Liz Flaherty photo

Not So Self Assured…

One of my least attractive qualities is my singing voice; therefore, it is a public service that I only sing in the car when I’m alone or at church when I can’t help myself. So today, driving up 100 West alone on the way to Rochester, I was yelling singing along with the Beatles. The song was “Help,” a favorite I hadn’t heard for a while. It wasn’t one I’d ever thought that much about. But we’re approaching the end of the year, time to choose my word for 2020, and I think “help” might be the one.

We all need it sometimes.

We all need to give it sometimes.

We don’t always recognize it at the time we receive it.

We occasionally resent the ones who are trying to help us.

Now and then we resent the ones who need help.

If we do it for thanks or recognition, we’re doing it for ourselves, not for the recipient. (This is hard for me—I LOVE recognition.) If we’re doing it to get paid, it’s still help, but it’s also self-serving; I think maybe that dilutes it.

There are complications with the word. If you are asked for help and you really don’t have time for it, you need to say no. But does that make you a terrible person? No, it means you’ve been overwhelmed often enough that you’re finally on your way to finding the time to take care of yourself. It’s kind of like the oxygen mask on the plane that you have to put on yourself before you put one on your child—if you don’t have yours on, you can’t save him or her. Sometimes you have to put on the mask and say no.

The other side of that complication is being able to accept help. Gracefully. If you happen to be “of a certain age” and your joints don’t hurt and you can get up from the floor after you’ve foolishly gotten down there and you can still heft bags of salt and five-gallon bottles of water without even flinching…well, that’s really good. I don’t believe you, but that’s good. However, if someone offers to help with things that are heavy or too difficult, say “yes, please,” and, when they’re done, give them cookies and say “thank you” again.

If you need a ride because driving’s become an issue, accept one from someone else. If you have to, ask for one. Remember that in earlier days you were the one who gave rides. It’s called paying it forward. My neighbor was always so grateful when I took her somewhere, although she took me plenty of places, too. Her funeral was this week, and I’d give a lot to be able to give her another ride.

There are times when the only help a person needs is for you to listen to him or her. To laugh at his jokes even if you’ve heard them before, to ask for a recipe even if you’re probably never going to use it.

Helping, I have heard, is the same thing as enabling. If you give things, people won’t want to earn those things on their own. If you donate money, chances are it won’t be used in the way you intended. If you buy Christmas gifts for kids in need, their parents will just feel free to spend their money on things like drugs and tobacco and liquor.

Yeah. Sometimes. So? Does that mean you should let people be hungry, be without basic needs, that children shouldn’t have Christmas presents because their parents might be losers? Or does it just mean you should help anyway?

It’s getting uncomfortable up here on my soapbox of righteousness. In case I make it sound like I always do the right thing, I don’t. If I make it sound like I have all the answers, I don’t. If I always, at my Pollyanna worst, make everything sound easy, it’s not.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all try.

Have a great week. I hope you help someone. If you need help, I hope you get what you need.


Liz maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking this link:

Get her latest Romance Novel Nice to Come Home from Amazon by clicking on this link:

Nice to Come Home To is the third book in the Lake Minigua series, following Every Time We Say Goodbye and The Happiness Pact.

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