“Your job is not to judge. Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.” ~Joel Osteen
I never thought I’d be quoting Joel Osteen in a post, but this quote of his resonates with me. There’s a lot of talk flying around in the media, our political systems, and around kitchen tables about what people deserve. I’ll admit that “deserve” is a word that makes me wince. I don’t even like to say it because I can’t stand the feel of it or its connotation. It causes a lot of finger-pointing, blame, shame, and anger, and it’s not far removed from the idea of greed, another word that makes my stomach turn.
I’d like us to suspend with the idea of who deserves what altogether. We’re all born just trying to get by—breathing, eating, sleeping, and trying like hell to make sense of the great world that whirls around us. We all start this way, and then life happens, scattering our influences, values, and beliefs to the wind to be carried in a countless number of directions. And some of those directions break us down. We end up lost, hurting, and disillusioned. Some of us make it through to the other side of that heartache, and some don’t. Many need help, myself included.
I have been incredibly fortunate that most of the time when I needed support, I found it in my teachers, my friends, my writing, and my therapist. Sometimes, that help came from a stranger who didn’t owe me anything and who didn’t receive anything in return except my gratitude. Miraculously, I was also born with boatloads of grit, a hefty dose of determination, and a never-say-die attitude. For better or worse, I am stubborn as hell and my headstrong nature has been my savior. A lot of people aren’t as lucky. When they are most in need, there isn’t anyone to help. They are alone. And I know that feeling, too. It’s terrifying. It makes you desperate. It causes you to think and do things that would never cross your mind on an average day. Any one of us could become that person with just a simple turn of bad luck.
It’s on those days that we most need help, and for too many people, that help doesn’t arrive. So what if we did this? What if each of us, once a week, once a month, hell once a year, saw someone who really needed help. Someone fallen, broken, or hurting. And we offered support. What if we all took it on as a small side job to lend a hand without reason, without any kind of repayment, but just because a total stranger needed us. Don’t think about how the person ended up in their current situation. Don’t judge or make a call about what they deserve. Just make it your job in that one moment, to offer support in some way with whatever you have. How would the world change if each of us did that? How would we change as people if we began to see everyone not as “other” but as one of us, as someone we could have been if our luck had been just slightly different?