When do you stop helping someone?
How much should we help those who come for aid? I believe that it is a serious consideration and each person has to figure that out for themselves. One way to figure it out is to go the easy route. Those in need are there because they are lazy, or, are addicted to either drink, or drugs, and helping them is, in reality, making them worse and codependent. While I do believe that the concept of ‘codependence’ is a reality, yet I also accept as true that it is too easily brought out as an excuse not to help others. This term is often thought of as a negative because being codependent can be based on compulsion or the mistaken idea that ‘I’ can save someone from themselves…..a grand illusion. Yet, as Christians, we are called upon to see Christ Jesus in those who are in need. Or perhaps to put it another way, to never forget the dignity of another human being.
I helped a man a few months ago over a period of time. He was in need, no doubt about it. He was disabled and lived in a motel. I helped him for a while and was glad to do it. Then little by little I came to understand that he was playing me in a big way, though I also understood that it was his way of surviving. Then I found out that he was selling the food I brought him for drug money. I was not surprised by this revelation but still saddened by it. I could not blame him, he was in the middle of a big web of lies and deceit and I believe that this was his normal way of living, of surviving, etc. Yet, could I continue to help him? Since I am not a government agency but only represent the community that I live in, I had to break it off. So I helped him one last time with his rent and said that I could not do it anymore. It was a hard choice, but one I believe was for the best.
Then a couple of months after I stopped helping him, he called me up and left a message. He told me that he was in the hospital with a serious illness. When I saw who called, I was tempted not to respond, but my ‘gut’ said to do so. So I went through the hospital operator, to actually see that he was in the hospital. I do not regret that I called him back. Even though I knew that I could not help him anymore. At least in the way, I did in the past.
He was in serious condition with more than one serious health issue. He also had a bad staph infection and they were not sure that he could take an antibiotic for it because of his kidneys. As he talked, I found that he might be in a good place compared to where he had been before. He was hopefully going to be put into the system and being truly disabled, he may get some help that could actually assist him getting out of the corner he was backed into. Partly his own fault, but also some things beyond his control.
As he talked, I knew that he was going to start asking me for help. So I told him that I did not regret helping him in the past, even if a large part of it was based on lies. Yet, because of the deceptions, there was no way that I could untangle truth from fiction on what he was telling me. As we talked I related that when he sees the social worker, to be truthful about his needs and hopefully they would be able to place him in a permanent residence. I have a feeling that it will be a nursing home. He is only in his mid-fifties but looks much older. He tried to deny that he needed to be ‘placed’, but I told him that he was totally dependent on others for his room and board and food (and as a byproduct his drugs) and I would imagine that he was running out of people who will help him because of his dishonesty in his dealings with them. I did not want to be so blunt, but in my own poor way, trying to help him.
I can’t judge this poor man. I think that if I was in his position I may be doing worse. So I am in no place to make myself superior in any way. I entered this monastery at an early age and I believe one reason was to fight my own little group of inner ‘demons’. We all need places of healing. In our marriages, hopefully, healing will come by the give and take that it calls for. Or by our vocation in the workforce. Or perhaps the extended family that many find as a true healing balm in their lives. Without that, there are other ways to ‘fix’ ourselves, or ‘medicate’ ourselves that only make things worse. Perhaps my friend, if he can get in a stable environment, would be able to slowly to get his life back in some kind of order. If he is placed in a residence close by, I will visit him perhaps on a monthly basis and be able to help him in a small way. If not, if he goes back out, I will not be able to help him at all.
False gods, like Jesus, demand everything. The difference is that false gods take us for everything we have and only leave a ruin. Jesus gives back life a hundredfold. Hopefully, my friend will be able to see this and open up his heart to the healing that comes from God’s love and mercy.