(Because of my advanced MO degree, I am a bona fide Master of the Obvious. That’s why this entry will likely tell you something you already know. In this case, what’s obvious is this: That although I think of myself as helpful, I’m probably also someone who other people think could use some help!)
For a good share of my life—continuing into these later decades—I’ve thought of myself as someone called to be helpful to others. That’s been part of my vocations as a teacher, denominational staff member and writer. Part of my disposition among friends and family. Part of the legacy I inherited from my parents. These days my helpfulness has concentrated on a smaller number of relationships that are satisfying and pleasurable, so I continue to see myself as a helper.
I’ve come to realize recently, though, that some people around me may also consider me as a person who needs assistance. (Because of my MO degree, I should have seen this earlier in life.) Cancers and other medical problems have marked me as someone who benefits from others’ help. Other personal traits and quirks may also have signaled to helpful people around me that I could use their kindness and care. As I transition inexorably towards inevitable frailties of mind and body, I will come to depend on their aid as a necessary element of growing older.
Right now, I think I’m both helper and helped one. This has been and will be true about all previous and future decades. I’m still capable of extending care that benefits others. And now another important challenge continues: To recognize and admit gratefully that I could use some help. To let go of the false assumption—the false pride—that I’m self-dependent. To accept the loving assistance of others, who also think of themselves as helpers.
I hope to continue to live this way, both extending myself into others’ needs and taking in their kindnesses. To live humbly and wisely.
Even without an MO degree, perhaps all these ideas have been obvious for you, too…?
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