Look for the Helpers

It’s been another heartbreaking week. The loss of life in Las Vegas is tragic. Our inability to act as a country is infuriating. And our struggle to understand why these things keep happening leaves us feeling helpless.

When I was little, I hated the sound of sirens because I thought it always meant someone was hurt, and that scared me. It was my mom who got me to re-frame it and think about how the sirens meant someone was getting the help they needed. It’s something I still have to stop and remind myself of as an adult when I get that pit in my stomach. My mom and Mr. Rogers’ moms are smart women. Every time something awful happens – man-made or from Mother Nature – we’re reminded of what Mr. Rogers would tell us as kids.

There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.

-Fred Rogers

As someone who’s not part of the police and firefighter/EMT women and men who are helping on the front lines, I get overwhelmed and discouraged about what I could possibly do to help. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lawmaker. I’m across the country. What can I do to help in a meaningful way?

Sure, I vote my conscience. And I contact my representatives. And I donate to the helpers who really are on the front lines and are best equipped to do the helping. But it all still leaves me feeling helpless.

And then I’m reminded that helpers come in all forms. I’ve spent almost 7 years volunteering on a crisis hotline. I’ve been on the other end of the line for people who didn’t feel like they had anyone else to talk to. I’m there for people who feel out of options. I’m there to listen to the truths that feel too awful to tell anyone in person. This is a thing I can do, and I know it makes a difference. I may not have been able to stop what happened in Las Vegas or even offer support to those affected by it. But I’ve found a way to jump in and help my neighbors in a way that I am uniquely suited to do. I can’t stitch anyone up. I’m not in position to draft policy. But I also know there are people who can’t talk with people at their lowest, when they need it the most. I can. And so I help in the way I can.

I share this not to say everyone should volunteer with a crisis hotline, suggest that I’ve got some magic fix, or am better than anyone else . Rather, this is how I make sense of the world and my place in it. I remind myself that I’m helping in the best way I can. I can be a helper. And if we as a community all helped in the small ways we uniquely can, we are a force against the darkest parts of our humanity. And so I ask our Good for Her Soul community, how are you helping?  What are we each doing to bring the love and light into the world?

Catherine’s heart hurts, and there’s not really much more to say about that. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

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