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Walking with someone is different than supporting them

I have always been a pretty independent person, even when I have a need. Trying a complete a project without the right kind of tools to use can add a lot of frustration, but may not prevent it from getting finished. I once dug 63 holes with a shovel in the middle of summer because I didn’t have the money to rent an auger. It was painful, but I got it done. I really don’t like to borrow tools from someone else either. I struggle asking for help. I will loan tools to people but I would rather help with the project. I think working with someone on their project can be rewarding and is more helpful to that person. We can usually learn together.

A few years ago, I was trained as a Stephen Minister. As a Stephen Minister, I was meeting with someone weekly and discussing what is going on in that person’s life. The care receiver may be in the last stages of life, or they may be much younger and need a confidential relationship outside of their family. In the training, we were exposed to the idea of not taking on the person’s issues as an attempt to help them, but to be a good listener, giving them an outlet free from judgment. As I would walk alongside that person, they could hear themselves and sometimes might find answers they were looking for without intending to look for any. I suppose on some level the meeting might only be an hour, to say what you think or wish you could say to others too close for comfort. My viewpoint of people struggling with lots of interrelated issues mainly brought on by financial challenges continues to evolve over time. Food insecurity, lack of transportation, child care, educational limitations and poor personal choices along with a few others I didn’t mention kind of swirl around you, if you are unable to earn enough money to end the cycle of poverty.

The answer isn’t always giving someone what they lack, but may be in walking with them to help them discover what they can do for themselves. You and I are both able to accomplish more than we think we can.

Sometimes we just need to hear that enough times that we might begin to believe it. If I don’t like where I am or where I seem to be heading, I may need to change the road I’m on to get to a different place. It also helps to know someone who has a map or can even lend you their GPS while they walk with you.

The reality is that Second Harvest Food Bank will not end food insecurity by reaching some number of pounds of distributed food. We perform a very valuable service in 8 counties that must be accompanied by sustainable personal change. For some, complete independence is not feasible, for others, being less dependent has to be a high priority.

 

Written by Tim Kean

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