Here is a little discovery you have likely made in the relationships in your own life: There is often a significant difference between help that is requested and help that is imposed.
An example shows up in our home every once in a while:
A - I have a real problem on my hands. I need to get X, Y, and Z done and I don't have the time to do them all.
B - Oh, no problem. I will do Z for you...and on the way I can also do Y.
A - Uh...I did not ask for help, I was just naming my frustrations.
A - I have a real problem on my hands. I need to get X, Y, and Z done and I don't have the time to do them all. Could you please help me and maybe do Y or Z?
Now, if you do not notice the difference between these two situations, the rest of this reflection may be lost on you.
What we are highlighting here is the concept that sometimes each of us thinks we know what is best for someone else and we begin to offer a solution or our help without it being solicited. Yes, it is true...sometimes this is not a problem...unsolicited help is sometimes offered and accepted without a problem. However, often, this is not true.
Often, many of us (in most situations) prefer to ask for help when we know we need it. Sometimes unsolicited help is actually unneeded help. Sometimes unsolicited help is well-intentioned, and ends up being insulting or damaging. Remember the middle school jingle, 'When you ASSume, you make.....'
This week we have fantastic examples to hold up against one another to illustrate ways and reasons we should all pay attention to our surroundings and motivations.
In the part of David's story we see this week, we find him planning to impose his help on God. David had just gotten settled in his new home and he thought it would be a great idea to build a house for God. God responded through Nathan the prophet that God was not interested in David doing this. God reminded him that God had done a fine job providing for God's self and also for the Israelites and if God needed a house to live in, God would build a house.
And in the part of Jesus's story we see in Mark, we find people coming to Jesus and directly asking and begging for help. We see at other points in the ministry of Jesus him directly asking people, "do you want to be healed?". There seems to be something important about people actually being able to name their own needs.
It seems to be a high level of respect that any of us can offer to another to allow him or her to name his or her needs for us rather than us making an assumption about what is needed. Maybe it is an important way for us to love one another by just being present with someone until a solution arises in response to a need.
In a letter from Paul to the church at Ephesus, he explains how the covenant of God, through the teaching, healing, death and resurrection of Jesus is available to all. As partners without identity other than "Christian," we become the building blocks, the flying buttresses, the rafters and the roofing for a "house" that could include all. It's hard to know how to include if we aren't able to be present, to listen and to really understand the other - not to help them in the way that we want to help them, but in the way that they need help.
help us to listen and feel
not just to you
but to those around us
so that we might hear and feel
to a better place,
focused on goodness,
rather than doing.
© laura & matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org - We share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask thatyou let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.