Why I Love People

It is simple, really. There’s no telling what people will do. I am not thinking of the regrettable things people sometimes do. I’m thinking about the amazing, selfless, and graceful things people do all the time.

Just the other day I was spending some time with a friend to encourage him while he was waiting for his wife. We were sitting down having sandwich in a deli restaurant when an elderly man with a walker and cane walked up to a table near us. The man had his walker and his cane, plus a bag of some personal items, and the bag with his sandwich and chips as well as his drink. He was having a hard time balancing all of them while he looked for a table where he could sit.

My friend said, “I wish I knew how he wants me to help him.” As the man moved to a different table, he had to leave his food and drink on another table while he tried to keep his walker, cane, and other bag organized. A moment later, my friend said out loud, “Can I help you by bringing your food to you?”The man said, “Sure, thanks!” After my friend took him his food we went back to our conversation about families and cars and people asking for advice.

When he said it, I thought it was such an odd phrase: “I wish I knew how he wants me to help him.”

Usually, we’ll say something like “I wonder if he needs help?” or “Should I help him? Will he be offended?” or “What can I do to help?”  In this case my friend believed the man wanted help from him. I didn’t see anything about the elderly man that suggested he wanted help. Sure, he was having a hard time balancing everything and getting organized but I was asking the other questions: does he need it, should I help, and what can I do?

My friend jumped past that and thought, “What does he want me to do?” Isn’t that amazing? To imagine that a person in need, someone who is struggling with something, anything, is thinking, “I want that person to help me.”

Asking the question, “What does he want me to do to help him?” means accepting tremendous responsibility. Just the frame of mind means that we would always be aware of others around us and live our lives in such a way we were looking for the ways people wanted us to help them. Our lives would not be a question of if we should help someone, but how shall we help them.

I was there that day to help my friend but when I saw how he reacted toward the stranger he helped me and challenged me to be more aware of others around me in need. It was a selfless thing he did, a graceful thing. He showed me how to become a little better person.

What do you think when you see people in need? How do you think about helping them? What goes through your mind when you see someone in need?

  • David Sullivan

    Usually I ask them if I can help. Sometimes I am rebuffed,Always I feel better from the encounter.

    • DarrellGwaltney

      Yes, it’s always good to try to help. What I found so interesting about my friend was the way he said it, “I wonder what he wants me to do help him?” It helped me to see how a person thinks who is always looking to help. I learned something from him that day. Glad to have you in the conversation, David!

  • Too many times I feel we feel inconvenienced by people who are in need. We’re too focused on what we need to get done rather than how we can help others each and every day. Our priorities are messed up.

    The other tough issue is that so many Christians have been burned by others. I always use Tyrann Matheui as an example, from LSU. The kid was given everything he could ever imagine, his needs were sufficiently fulfilled. He even made a mistake and was forgiven. However, yet he still continued to throw it all away. Our patience with these people has dwindled and many times feel that we don’t even want to help now because it won’t do anything for them in the long run.

    • DarrellGwaltney

      Thanks, Michael, for your comments. What impressed me about my friend was his focus was anticipating the need of the older man. He was going to help, he just didn’t know what the man needed. He was responding to the need BEFORE he saw it. I think that’s cool.

      Helping people is always about grace. We never can measure how much or when, we can only be graceful. Grace is costly. Always. It usually asks more than we can give or others reasonably think we should give.

  • Didier

    I love to help people but no one wants my help when I offer it. Then when I ask for help no one wants to help me. If it’s not one thing it’s another thing/ problem for me. People do not want to die so they do need my help I want to be Der grossmann so I could help all humans live forever. Thats better than just sitting on a couch doing nothing. This is the help people and I need from The Grossmann.