Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love People

Today, I want to give you a little piece of advice that will revolutionize the way you're living and loving in this world. Are you ready?

Stop helping people. Right now. Do not ever help another person as long as you live. Nothing good has ever come from one man helping another.

You've probably never heard that bit of advice before, have you? You've probably always heard the opposite - help as many people as you can. You probably think I'm being sarcastic or writing some piece of satire. I'm not. I'm absolutely serious. And if you listen to the words of Jesus, He's saying the same thing. 

Well, He's not saying it. Jesus never says, "Help people." He never says, "Go out and help as many people as you can." He says to love people. He says to do good to people, to do good for people. He says to pray, to give, to go. He does not say to help.

And here's why: helping inherently creates a power differential. Here you are, the noble helper, giving up a portion of your time and resources and ability for the sake of someone who cannot do such things for him/herself. Without saying as much, you've made yourself better than them. And you consider it good that you are the kind of person who would do just such a thing. You feel good about yourself for helping. 

Until you don't. Until you come to realize there are people in this world who will take advantage of this very ego you don't even notice and enlist you to help until you're all helped out, and then you will feel guilty for not helping because, well, you're so darned good at it! You're awesome at giving of your incredible excess and awesome ability and gracious generosity to people who could never have, do, or accomplish what you can! And then you will realize how much you hate helping, how much you hate being on top all the time, how much you hate being the only capable one on this whole planet, and you will resent helping. You will resent those you have helped. And you will still feel guilty that you're not helping more because it seems, as blessed as you are, that you are precisely the kind of person who should spend your life helping. 

I have helped a lot of people in my life. For various reasons and in many ways. Why? Because I am a good helper. At least, I have been. I have a lot to offer. But you know what? I hate it. I hate helping. There are things in my life that I have to do and to comfort myself, I have often said, "I have the time. I have the ability. I'm going to just go and help for a little bit and it will be good." And I have hated certain things from the start. I have been profoundly overwhelmed by the realization that I don't want to help. I can help. I feel obligated to help. But I don't want to help. I feel....cheap. I feel...used. I feel...a whole myriad of things that lessens the experience I'm hoping to have. I regret helping people.

But I have never regretted loving anyone.

It doesn't matter if I know the person or not, if I loved them before this moment or not. If you send me to do a task - some simple little task - and I walk into it thinking I'm helping, I'm bound to resent it. Maybe forever. But if I walk in thinking I'm about to love someone, you can't wipe the smile off my face. I thoroughly enjoy myself and I believe that what I do matters. I believe it makes a difference. And I believe it's bigger than me.

You see, when you love people, there is no power differential. You don't have to be better, bigger, smarter, more capable than them. In fact, you bring yourself onto their level, whatever that is. You come alongside people and that changes the experience for both of you. If you're honestly loving someone, that comes from you. That comes from in your heart. And you cannot walk away feeling used. You cannot walk away feeling cheap. You cannot walk away resentful because it's just love. And love washes away all of those things.

Can I tell you something? Every time - every single time without exception - that I have ventured out to help someone in this world, I have forgotten to love them. That's just how it is. That's why "helping" leaves me wiped out. It's missing something vital. I suspect I am not alone in this struggle. I am betting if you think about it, you can think about people you have helped, but not loved. It is much harder to think of someone you have loved, truly loved, but not helped.

You have to choose love. You have to choose it before you even walk out the door. You have to choose it from the moment you say "yes" to someone else, even if they are just asking for help. You have to take a quiet moment and decide in your heart that whatever's coming will not be about help; it will be about love. Everything you do will be about love.

You have to envision this person, whether you know them or not, in your mind's eye and decide on-spot to love them. You have to build that love in your heart before you even go, before you get there. And you have to let that love be your driving force.

You won't regret it. You can't. It's love.

I'm not saying that any of this comes easily. It doesn't. I'm not saying I've got it down. I don't. There are still days in my life that I spend helping, and when I come home at night and sit down in a reflective moment, I realize how much I hated that day. How drained I feel. And how I long for something better, or at least, to never have to do that again. And like a brick, it hits me that it wasn't the day that was bad; it was the moment I missed. I never loved. That's what was missing.

So please, stop helping people. Nobody really needs your help. Nobody really needs one more person above them in a weak moment, one more person who is better than them, one more person who is so "good" that they can give of their excess for an uncommon good.

What people need more than anything is someone to come along beside them, someone to stand with them, someone to do it together and share in the moment. Someone who gives not of their excess, but simply of themselves for a mutual, but painfully uncommon (see what I did there?), good. What people need more than anything is love.

And if you search your heart, you'll find that love is really all you have to give anyway. So give it. Love people. You may just find you've helped them after all.

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