January 24, 2012

Theses on Helpfulness in Community

Every grown person is ultimately his or her own responsibility.

Thus, taking responsibility for the feelings of another is a failure in charity, because we are giving someone else permission to be less than an integral, mature being.

Everyone can be helped, but not every situation can be fixed. Awareness of this distinction is critical.

What people think or say they want or need isn't always what they actually want or need.

God, who has the best boundaries of anyone in community, is notorious for his failure to always give us what we say we want or say we need. Perversely, however, we sometimes insist that this is what ministry is supposed to be. This is because niceness is easier than love.

Someone may need help but not know it, or be unwilling to accept it, or ignorant of how to accept it. Others may know they need help and be willing to accept it, but ignorant of what sort of help they need. Sometimes someone may even ask for help but only mean to refuse it as an act of passive aggression. Therefore, it is intensely dangerous to base one's sense of self or vocation on feeling helpful.

When we fail to accept help because we are indulging pride, fear, or an unwillingness to be vulnerable, we fail in love because we risk making fruitless the charity that God has inspired in our neighbor.

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