Friday, October 4, 2013

Do You Need Roadside Assistance?

Here's Your Sign
It seems the signs of the times are all over the place but the signs I am talking about right now are probably not the signs you are thinking.

This is a sign that I'm talking about. They seem to be popping up not just on every street corner but multiple times on every corner.

Now we have grown steadily accustomed to seeing them and we hear of the fraudulent cases where people stand with a sign and then get in their luxury car when they're finished for the day, but I am guessing that is not the norm. In life a few bad apples still spoil the whole box. 

This is not a post about whether or not you should give to the person holding this sort of sign. This is a post about actually looking and listening for signs that people around us really do need help but without holding an actual sign. 

We Live In CrazyTown
We're in a hurry these days. We are trying to get things done and there's more month than money for many. Obamacare is not fixing anything. Budget deficits are out of control. The government is printing currency faster than we can make it and the list goes on.

But what about your neighbor? What about your kids? What about your parents? 

We are all in this crazy mess together and guess what- we need each other. We are all different and uniquely talented and yet God has us here, in the place where we are today, for a specific purpose. That purpose is NOT for ourselves; it's for others.

Let me jump into your world for a moment so you can understand what I'm talking about with perspicuity- that means more clarity. We learned a new word this last Sunday:)

One of THOSE Days
I don't have to ask if you've ever had "one of those days" because we all have. It's the day that the cat gets sick and yacks up a honker fir ball as you're trying to eat your breakfast and then the dog runs out of the house and you can't catch him. You have a flat and your spare is also flat. You bump into someone car in the parking lot. You're late for work and it would have been much more convenient yesterday when you had far less to do. You forgot your lunch and your wallet is empty and it's not even noon yet. You get the point.

The man or lady on the street corner has a sign that tells people they need help. We don't take a piece of cardboard out of the trash and make a sign when we have those kinds of days. Maybe we should, but we don't. What kind of sign do we really make though? 

Focus, Phones and Flop
The normally chipper person is focused on getting to their task. The phone is answered in a lower tone. When they take their seat they flop down with little control. There is an inordinate amount of sighing. Head in hands for a few minutes. Staring off into space. You get the picture. They are not themselves- the person you know them to be.

How do we help? Do they need a dollar bill? Maybe, but probably not. Do they need your protein bar? Actually maybe they do but you won't know until you ask them something. Most likely any form of a kind gesture will get the conversation started and you will be able to tell how you can help.

Healthy Eats- Raised Countenance 
The other day I went into a business to see a friend and he has been very stressed out lately and I noticed he was not eating lunch when the others were and there was no food sitting around. I went and got a protein bar and some coconut oil from my car and offered it to him. He was very thankful and the cost to me was minuscule. 

Here's the thing. I'm not the hero here I was just paying attention to my friend. Again, we all have different strengths and gifts. Teresa says that I have a tire changing ministry. I actually like to help people change their spare out when they have a flat alongside the road. It's really not a big deal for me because I can do it super fast and you would be surprised what 4-5 minutes of my time is worth to some young mom with a baby or 2 in the back seat sitting along the road. They didn't have a sign that said, "please stop and help me change my tire". They didn't need one.

Here's the deal. I want to emphasize this again. I am NOT the hero. 

I have super hard days too. I don't get a piece of cardboard out either and I hope that someone notices and helps. Just because someone is the one who is generally the encourager doesn't mean that they don't need it returned every once in a while.

My Turn
Actually yesterday was one of those days for me. I didn't have a flat because that really wouldn't have been an issue for me. I wasn't late. I didn't forget my lunch but there was a lot of stuff that happened and my "car was sitting alongside the road"- figuratively.  

I tried to stay away from people as I didn't want to drag them down. I want to be the one blowing wind into the sails of others not blowing holes into their sails. I think, "If I am down then what must everyone else be feeling?". 

What did it take to "help me"? Not too much really. I read some Pilgrim's Progress. I got a sweet text from my wife. I talked to my kids. I got a short but very kind email from a pastor friend. I helped a business owner think through their web presence problems. Those were all small steps but the biggest help came at the very end of the day. A friend came over and blew some wind into my sails and just told me that they appreciated me. That's it. It was "free" to them and yet meant so much to me. It actually brought tears to my eyes and to Teresa's eyes, as she knew the kind of day I was having.

This person didn't know what kind of a day I was having but they knew me well enough to know that I needed a lift and they were there to give it with just a few kind words. 

Who really Wins?
Here's the kicker in all this. When I stop to help someone alongside the road, who gets the biggest encouragement? Them or Me? I am encouraged that I can help them. It's better to give than to receive. Although I was really encouraged last night by my friend I'll bet they were at least as encouraged as I was when they saw how much it meant to Teresa and me for them to care enough to say a few kind words.

Look around today for someone that is NOT holding a cardboard sign but might be showing signs that they need YOUR help.

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