Friday, March 23, 2012

The Best Cure for What Ails You


We've all heard it before, probably many times: The best cure for what ails you is helping someone else. I know this to be true, but a speaker at church last Sunday brought it home to me on a whole new level. I'm not sure if it's what he said or just that I was ready to hear (probably a combination of both), but I did want to share a couple of his experiences with you.

The first of these happened one morning at a fast food restaurant on his way to work. He walked in, ordered breakfast and sat down, noting an odd-looking woman in the far corner. She wore several coats, had multiple hats on her head, and wasn't particularly clean. What's more, she mumbled to herself in a way that was clearly prompting people to keep their distance. Every other customer in the place was seated as far away from her as possible. At first, our speaker followed suit, but then he got what he called an "impression" to go over and have breakfast with her. He quickly shot down that idea in his own mind, determined to enjoy his breakfast without company. No such luck. Despite his reticence to comply, the persistent thought remained, becoming stronger and more intrusive until he finally decided Someone upstairs must be telling him something. Feeling awkward and uncomfortable, he picked up his food, walked over to the woman's table, and asked if he could eat with her. She nodded; he sat down, and they had a conversation for the next half hour. She spoke non-stop about her life as if no one had listened for years, as if she were starving to be heard. And, to his surprise, being the hearer felt good. When the time came for him to go to work, he excused himself with a smile and shook her hand. He particularly remembers the look on her face and the warm feeling between them. He never saw her again but often thought of her as he visited that same fast food restaurant.

Our speaker's second experience also occurred at a fast food restaurant. (Maybe he needs to branch out into some healthier food choices!) Be that as it may, he was sitting next to a man who had apparently seen him pause briefly before eating his lunch. The man asked, somewhat hesitantly, if he had been blessing his food. Surprised that his activity was so obvious to an onlooker, our speaker nodded that yes, he had been praying. Clearly moved, his questioner said quietly that it was nice to watch someone saying grace. In almost the same breath, he confided that his wife had died the week before. His grief was so palpable that it enveloped both of them, and they cried together.

Simple stories, both, but they touched me. Would I sit with the homeless woman? Would I cry with the grieving stranger? I fear that I would not, even if the Lord prompted me. My inclination is to stay away from people who appear dirty or unkempt; and I rarely speak, other than in passing, to men I don't know. Not that I want to throw caution to the wind or abandon good sense and appropriate wariness, but does my fear keep me from making meaningful connections with people around me? Am I missing opportunities to bless and be blessed?

One last story for all of you: Leo Buscaglia was asked to judge a contest where the "most compassionate" child would be chosen, based upon stories of caring or service submitted by parents, relatives, or friends. A child of four won, one whose elderly neighbor had just lost his wife. Peeking through the fence and seeing the old man in tears one day, the little boy went through the gate, climbed up on the widower's lap, and sat there for a time. Later, his mother asked the child what he had said. Surely his answer must resonate with every one of us: "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

We can help, too. I can help. And not just because it feels good. But because it IS good.

"Wherefore, comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."
1 Thessalonians 5:11

23 comments:

BEAR's Mom said...

a great message Sue
thanks for sharing :D
~victoria~

Grandma Honey said...

Beautiful Sue.
In my older age I've been working on being more aware of the needs around me.So far nothing earth shaking has happened but I'm trying.

I loved all 3 of those stories. Thank you!

Jocelyn Christensen said...

You are making ME cry now! :) Thanks for the warm fuzzies...

karen said...

Well, now I'M crying... So beautiful! It takes courage (or maybe foolhardiness) to talk to strangers - especially if they don't appear inviting. But I can tell you, I've squared my shoulders and done it a few times, and it's always - ALWAYS - been a good experience. I'm not saying that I did anyone any particular good with long lasting effect. But I'm not saying that I didn't, either. We just never know. Be safe, but don't let your fear rule you.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Thank you for sharing this. Amazing post and a great reminder.

Eva Gallant said...

A lovely and thought-provoking post.

Eva Gallant said...

A lovely and thought-provoking post.

Garden of Egan said...

That was a beautiful post.
This very thing has been on my mind today.

momto8 said...

I loved this post. I believe it because I have seen it. Humans are the happiest when we make someone else happy.

Joyful Noise said...

Thumbs Up! Thank you for the beautiful reminder!

yaya said...

I always wonder when things like that happen if maybe it's a heavenly being just taking a look to see what us humans are up too and if anyone out there really cares! I'm glad your speaker took the time to help another and I hope I can remember to do the same. Thanks for sharing!

anitamombanita said...

that was amazing. thanks for sharing it!

Brian Miller said...

nice...there is def something that happens when we serve others and share the love....

Darlene said...

Well, this one got to me totally and I am still crying and my nose is running, good thing I have a kleenex in here. All of the stories were so touching. It reminded me of the time Dick and I went to a fast food place for breakfast a short time ago. There was an old man sitting in the corner drinking coffee. We had breakfast sandwiches and I couldn't stop looking at this poor man. Obviously, he was not eating breakfast and I got the idea that all he could afford was coffee. He went up for a refill. I told Dick that he ought to go over and give him some money for breakfast, but Dick was hesitant for some reason. When we went out, he was already outside just walking toward the back of the lot, and all of a sudden, Dick just went up to him and pulled some money out of his wallet and told him that he wanted to buy him some breakfast. That man seemed so grateful and it made both of us feel so happy that we had done that. It was just a little thing, but he never asked for it in any way, which was why it was easy to Dick to offer.

It has always made me feel better when I do something for someone else, even though I'm feeling lousy myself.

This was such a great post, Sue.

Dixie Mom said...

Perfect examples of moments that many of us let pass by.
I think a lot of us are just too busy to take the time to listen to those quiet promptings and we miss our moments of service.
I want to be better at that.

☆☆Mumsy said...

Beautiful stories you shared here Sue, and the last one touched me most!

I believe you will sit with that homeless woman, and talk/cry with a strange man when indeed the Lord strongly prompted you to.

Pondside said...

That last story, Sue...that one made me cry.

VK said...

Very nice reminder of how we should be living life.
When I was with some Christian friends in a restaurant recently, THEY suggested we say a little prayer before eating.
Later some anonymous patron paid for our dessert, and I have to believe it was because he was impressed with my friends actions.
People notice.

Karen Mortensen said...

This was the best thing I have read in along time. So touching. That last story was awesome. We just never know who these people we come in contact are. Angels?

Caroline said...

I am crying.

I have the prayer of St Francis posted to my bulletin board in the kitchen. The one that goes: "grant that I may not no much seek to be consoled as to console..." an so on. The whole meaning behind that prayer is that in giving we receive. I need a daily reminder of this. Thank you for the reminder today, Sue.

I love these stories--all of them.

Jenny Woolf said...

Inspiring. I think we should follow the promptings of our hearts. Your friend didn't want to sit with the homeless woman, but something made him do it.

Esther Joy said...

Beautiful stories...
I'm sure I have much room to improve!!!

Jenny said...

Ah.

Ahhhh.

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