As a boy, when I found myself in trouble or dismayed and I felt like I was going to come apart, I could always count on my dad to tell me to pull myself up by my boot straps and carry on. I can’t tell you the amount of stress those words held for me. Didn’t he understand the heaviness of what I was going through? After all my whole life was in turmoil, wasn’t it?
As I got older I began to understand that my father knew exactly what I was going through and that his heart shared my pain. He was simply trying to prepare me for a world that can be quite harsh at times. None the less, attempting to follow these words only caused me to become jaded, mercenary and unresponsive to the pain and suffering of others. After all, if I needed to do it on my own, shouldn’t everyone else?
I found some relief in university when I was told that no man is an island and everyone needs a hand now and again. I was so refreshed with this way of looking at things that I shed my scales and dedicated myself to a life of public service. At the time, I believed the best way of helping others would be to become a church leader. Little did I know back then that the church is the last place most will come for help, and with good reason. That, however, is another tale.
To make a long story short, I did my time, earned my stripes and became a pastor (vicar). With an open heart and an unrealistic worldview, I marched into the world to bring about change in others. I hadn’t been counseling for long before I realised I couldn’t change anyone. I could help someone change if, and only if, s/he truly desired to do so.
This sent me into another tailspin. Why be in a position to help others if ultimately they were responsible for changing themselves. Was my father right? Was it really all about everyone simply pulling herself up by the boot straps? These questions bothered me for years, even after I knew the church and the god it worships wasn’t the right deity for me.
After spending years questioning the goddess as she lead me through paths of darkness where I was forced to use all of my senses including the sixth, I understood that the truth of the situation is somewhere in-between what my dad taught and what I foolishly accepted as possibility. Each person is ultimately responsible for her life. She must both commit to and take action to manifest a victorious, unselfish life that makes the world a better place, but she doesn’t have to carry the burden alone. It’s perfectly acceptable for her to accept a helping hand, as long as she only uses it to get back on her feet after she’s taken a tumble (much more comforting than a boot strap).
And this is exactly where people called to go the extra mile, like me, fit in. We can use our experiences and gifts to help others that want, need and are committed to change.
It’s such a blessing to aid others in meeting their goals and dreams, and such a relief to know that whether they succeed or fail is entirely up to them.