August 31, 2015

To Help and to Accept Help

By Elaine Eberhart

Blog-Meme-8-31-2015_HelpRead Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

He stood outside the donut shop of my building at the university, wanting a dollar or a cup of coffee. His name was William, and we talked each morning before I left to deal with e-mail, calendars, and meetings. He would be absent for days at a time and upon his return would tell me that he had been sick.

Most mornings I bought him a cup of coffee when I bought my own. Sometimes I was busy and gave him a dollar. And sometimes I was too late to do more than wave. Whatever I did, I always had a sense of guilt. Was I doing enough?

Dennis, a colleague, and I shared the same office coffeepot. Though our paths didn’t cross often, we sometimes stopped to say hello when crawling over each other in the tiny break room. I saw him talking to William one day, taking my place as the coffee buyer. I asked him about the situation when we got to our office. Yes, he knew William. He knew he had a drinking problem; they talked about the lost days when he would go on a binge. Dennis tried to get William a job at the donut shop. He talked to the manager and took William to meet her. William wouldn’t apply, but Dennis was working on him, he said.

What accounted for the difference in the way we talked about William—Dennis with his determination that William get a job, I with my fear of not doing enough for him? We were both concerned about William, but I saw William as someone I felt obligated to help in just the right way. Dennis saw William as he saw himself, someone who needed others to make it through life’s challenges, large and small.

Thank you, God, for those who teach us to help and those who teach us to accept help. Amen.

Elaine Eberhart is chair, department of development, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. She attends St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville.

The Upper Room Disciplines 2015

The Upper Room Disciplines 2015. Click to purchase this full week of devotions (“A Share in the Household of God”) as an e-book.

Excerpt from page 255 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2015: A Book of Daily Devotions. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.

The Upper Room Disciplines is an award-winning devotional book published annually by Upper Room Books. Fifty-three writers from diverse Christian and cultural backgrounds contribute to this yearlong guide of daily devotionals. They provide insightful reflections on scripture and offer suggestions for applying biblical truths to daily life.


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