When Helping Doesn’t Help

As you already know if you have passed by here lately, I have a mommy robin sitting on her nest of 3 blue eggs right outside my sunroom window. About a half dozen times every day I peek over at her in her nest and just smile at how good she is doing. My husband says, “Yeah, and because you went to midwifery school, I suppose you’ll have to go out there and help those babies crack their eggs open when they are ready to be born.”

I turned to him, aghast. “You know that would kill them. You know that, don’t you? I would never do that. You know me.”

He said, “Yes, yes I do. I must have lost my mind for a moment.”

We had a long discussion about “help” that does not help. I remember our 2 sons ages 8 and 5 carrying their 16-month-old sister from one spot to another throughout the house to play. On the developmental charts she was falling behind other children her age in walking ability. All of a sudden it occurred to me! She is not walking because her brothers are carrying her everywhere. I forbid them to carry her and she walked within a week! She was SO very pleased with herself!

Another time my second son couldn’t understand his 4th course in differential equations. He asked me what to do. I had taken 3 courses in statistics and the third course almost did me in. I told him I looked at how they set the problems up in the book and matched the scenarios with the solutions, doing the problems over and over again until I could see a pattern. Finally, one day, I got it. He got his book and began doing problems over and over. It was the first time he could recollect studying in his entire life, but after failing 3 tests in a row during the semester, the night before the final exam it clicked. He aced the final and the teacher gave him a “B” because he knew he couldn’t have done that well on the final unless he truly knew what he was doing. Nothing but hard work could have made the difference.

Sometimes life hurts, but if you don’t go through the hurt you never get the prize. Ballerinas’ feet hurt. trumpet players’ lips hurt. You don’t learn to ride a bike till you fall a couple dozen times. In order for a robin to live, the robin must peck through its own shell. Experiments have shown that the time needed for hatching varies for each individual bird. Try as you may, if you break the egg-shell yourself in order to help the bird get out, chances are that you will kill it. Do it too soon and the [robin] will die. Waiting too long is also a sign of trouble. If the baby bird is unable to hatch on its own efforts, it means that nature has already decided otherwise. http://www.squidoo.com/WHY-EVERY-CHICKEN

We are called “to bear one another’s burdens”, we just have to make sure they are really burdens. Perhaps they are natural obstacles people must overcome to prepare for the life God has called them to or maybe they are a consequence they have to endure to learn a lesson they have to learn. A good question to ask is “Would my help spur this person on to be the best they can be or would it deprive that person of a sense of accomplishment and teach him/her to wait for someone else to rescue them whenever they face something difficult.” “Will helping kill the person’s personhood?” If the answer is ‘yes’, don’t help.

Learnin’ from the robin family,



2 comments on “When Helping Doesn’t Help

  1. You hit the bulls eye! A lovely reflection and one I have experienced as true! God bless the little robins…God planted them there for your joy and ours too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dear Susan,

      I am so glad you can join me in my pleasure with the robins. They are so very loved and really enrich our lives here. They’ve somehow been able to adapt to the dogs’ barking!

      Blessings to you and all yours,

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