Daily Prompt: “Sorry, I can only help one person at a time”

Daily Prompt: “Sorry, I’m busy.” Tell us about a time when you should have helped someone… but didn’t.

I know the prompt is about not having helped someone at a time when that other person needed help..but this prompt appealed to me for a totally different reason.   It’s not that I have always been ever ready to extend help when requested or when there is an opportunity to do so.  I have had my own failings in this department.

However, when I read the prompt this morning, it hit me from a different angle.  There was a time when I was the one on the other end — the one that got the cold shoulder, the one who was brushed off.

It feels like that was a lifetime ago, twice over.  I find it ironic that the most painful brush offs were from people I least expected it from.  Two people who had become a very big part of my life.  One who, for many years, shared everything I had — and when it was my turn to ask, I was told there was a difference in wanting to help and being able to help.  There I was the one in need, and this person made out to be the victim.  So that was that.

The second most painful was when someone told me that very line — “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  It rings hollow now when I try to bring myself back to that point in time when I heard that first.  Perhaps my heart has been steeled by the realizations that followed.

I have long since realized that people can make you feel important and make themselves believe you matter to them, but when the rug is pulled from under you, they scurry away because to be there would take too much of an effort from them — and there are other things that are far more important than you.

Imagine if  the higher power we look to for our faith told us the same thing — then we would be a miserable sea of broken people.  But that is exactly what sets Him apart from us who are frail of spirit and weak of heart.

“I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  Cowardice shielded by dramatic words.  That it sounds good doesn’t make it right.  Neither does it make it true.  In truth, we help many people, half of them by choice, half of them by chance.  The ones we turn our backs on, however, are always a deliberate choice.  We choose NOT to help them.

Whatever faith we hold in our hearts, we are all taught to be kind to others.  When we choose not to be kind, even when we convince ourselves it’s for the good of the majority — we go against that very grain of kindness.  It does not justify turning our backs on those who need us.  More so when we turn our backs on those we promised never to shun or set aside.

At the start, remembering being turned away was painful.  For a time, there was hope that I misheard it, or that perhaps there would be a realization along the way.  But I was the one who eventually came to realize that when others choose not to help, there will always be those who will.  Kindness can come from the most unexpected place — from the last person you would expect would understand and just hold your hand.

I hope that I will have the werewithal to never utter those words.  “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  I wouldn’t want to say that to someone already downtrodden and carrying a load on their shoulders — because it would be like saying “I can’t help you because I’d rather help someone else.”  I hope I’ll remember to say “I want to help but I can’t.. not now.. not in the way you need me to.. but let’s see how I can in another way.”

I wish them well.  I know they know I made it through the storm — and with the help of others, I’m still here.  There is a lot of good out there — even if we don’t find them in the people we expect to find it in — kindness will find its own way.

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