Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pay it Forward--Sometimes Things Don't Work Out

Sometimes compassion just doesn't bear the fruits we expect it to. This seems to happen to me frequently when I notice something or someone that I think needs help and try to step in and offer assistance.

There was the time I saw a blind guy tapping all over the bus station, walking back and forth, stopping, seemingly confused about which way to go. I watched him for a few minutes while others just walked by, ignoring him. Finally I approached him and asked if I could help him find his bus. He snapped at me angrily and walked away, looking like he knew exactly what he was doing. Maybe he really did need help, and my asking just embarrassed him. I don't know. But I felt stupid. This seems to happen to me a lot. I know some people that are always offering the right kind of help at the right time, and I don't have that gift.

The other day I saw a bunch of people waiting in line for a Red Box machine, and there was another one in the store that I had noticed didn't have a line. I went up to the people waiting and told them there was no line inside. As a couple of them broke away to to inside, someone said, "Hey! That machine's broken." Fortunately, the nice people in line let them have their places back.

This is frustrating and a little bit painful to me. Every good deed should be met with gratitude, or at least grace, right? Sometimes I think that maybe I should stop trying to offer help where it isn't needed. I make mistakes, I get rejected. But . . .

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. - Dalai Lama

What if the stranger who fell among thieves had risen up when the Samaritan came to help him and said, with his last breath, "No way am I accepting help from someone like you"? Or, "I'm fine. Really. I don't need any help." Would the Samaritan have gone on his way resolved to never extend a hand again? I hope not. I hope he would have stopped and offered help again and again. Because the rescue wasn't about him. It was about the man in the road.

There are a lot of times when we don't realize we need rescuing or help. We are too proud to accept that someone else has something we don't have, or we think we show weakness by being in need. That doesn't mean we aren't still desperately in need. And there may come a time when we are humble enough or just down enough to finally accept that help. And what if everyone around us had stopped helping because they'd been turned down too many times?

So I'm going to keep getting back on the horse. I resolve that no matter how many times I am turned away or misinterpret people's needs and do the wrong or unneedful thing, I will try again. I will pray for more inspiration to discern needs. I will reach out. I won't wait for the sting of rejection or humility of the mistake to go away. And I will be happy.

Here's an excellent post highlighting a few things that you can do today to get on the horse or get back on it. While you're there, take a look around the blog. There's a lot of good stuff to read.


  1. Thanks for this great "Pay It Forward" post. I can relate completely to your experiences. I think I could start a separate blog to make an accounting of mine~ yes, there are that many!

    Many blessings...

  2. Maybe you've had some experiences that don't work out, but I can say without any qualms that your compassion towards me has always worked out. I look back over the last few years and wonder how I would have survived without your support. So.....sometimes things DO work out!