“Let me know if I can help” – I’m guilty of saying it, as most of us probably are. It gives us a sense of relief as we feel we’re there for somebody, even if we have no intentions of helping. We feel like we’re doing the right thing and surely, if they need help, they’ll reach out to us. But rarely would it ever go like that.
When someone is going through something challenging, the last thing they want to do is bug other people. It may be the hardest thing of their life, they may have lost someone close to them or had a major life-changing event that’s left them in the pit of despair. They won’t look up the list of people who told them to “let me know if I can help” and start calling up for favors.
It’s the easy way out, and I’m definitely guilty of it, so I hope you don’t feel like I’m standing on the podium talking down; instead, I’m reprimanding myself for all the times I’ve offered this self-soothing form of assistance.
If you really want to help someone, don’t tell them to let you know if you can help, but instead, just help. Think of the thing that would help them, and do it. I recently heard an incredibly powerful example of this from a reader of the blog, let’s call him John, and it truly touched me.
John told me they had a friend who had a sick family member who they’d have to provide assistance. It would cause them to miss work for quite sometime, and they would also have to pitch in for medical bills. John got the usual offers of assistance to help, if of course he’d reach out to the person offering and let them know what he needed.
Then, John had a family friend show up at his house. The visitor didn’t know how to approach the situation, but he knew the amount of pain the family was going through and he felt compelled to help. Instead of coming with empty offers of assistance, he came with an envelope full of cash because he knew they’d need it to help get them through, and he came with a heart overflowing with empathy and support.
It was more money than John would’ve expected or wanted from anyone, but in the back of his mind, he knew he would need it. In fact, John knew the kind donor had been saving the money for a new house and this would set them back substantially, but that didn’t stop them from giving.
It was an incredible act of selflessness and sacrifice that showed the beauty in humanity. We’re human when we show compassion and empathy for those in need; we’re human when we set the example for others of how things should be done.
I wanted to share this story with you so we can help pay it forward to someone else. This has definitely changed the way I’ll help those in need, and I’ll always think before I say “Let me know if I can help”.