Monday, March 28, 2016

Most Helpful

     I recently came across a small packet of papers my fourth grade teacher bound together and gave each of her students at the end of that school year. Among those papers is a list of class superlatives, and at the very bottom, next to "Most Helpful", is my name.
     While it's not the most exciting superlative on the list (I remember being sad that I wasn't voted "Prettiest" and later realizing no fourth grade girl should have to worry about who is prettiest), I think there is an element of truth to it. I can remember when I was very young, even before fourth grade, my Grandma would take me with her when she delivered Meals on Wheels or helped cook supper at church, and she always called me her little helper. Sometimes I pretended to be embarrassed by that title, but on the inside it was one of my proudest accomplishments at the time. I've always liked to help people, but even a positive attribute like being helpful has a downside. I've been in friendships where my main role was listening and offering advice, which is a normal part of friendship until it becomes the only part. It took me years to learn that you can't help people who won't help themselves, and sometimes I still forget that.
Another downside is that the modern world can be an overwhelming place for people like me who feel compelled to constantly feel like we are helping in some way. I have a smartphone in my pocket that gives me access to breaking news about tragedies that happen thousands of miles away, tragedies that I can do nothing about. The world is full of problems I can't solve, and have the technology to keep me informed about them, sometimes even as they are still unfolding. There are orphans in Honduras who I grew to love over the course of ten days three summers ago and never saw again, and sometimes I'm not sure if I improved their lives in any lasting way, and that's really been bothering me lately.
Yesterday we celebrated Easter, and it was a reminder to me that I don't have to solve all of the problems in the world, because the biggest problem the world ever faced has already been solved. Before I was even born, the most innocent man who ever walked the earth stepped in and took the burden for mine and everyone else's sins, solving our biggest, most fatal dilemma within three days. I will never be able to solve all of the problems I encounter, and that fact will most likely bother me forever. The world will always be a treacherous place full of unsolved problems that nag at me, but that fact in itself doesn't seem so alarming when I remember that this world is not the final destination. I take comfort in knowing that no problem in the world can completely ruin me, because the most important problem has already been solved for me, and that solution can never be reversed.

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