From a Distance

Everyone who knows me understands that I have a soft spot for helping critters. All critters. I will stop my afternoon runs to pick up worms baking in the sun and relocate them from the hot pavement to the cool grass. I don’t like to touch them, but I do.

I also am not overly fond of turtles. I had one mishap with a snapper and now I’m a little shy of them all. Nonetheless, I will stop my car and move them out of the road when it’s reasonable to do so. Other times, helping animals is much more rewarding. I grew up in the country, so the opportunities were plenty. From stray dogs to injured bunnies, I saved them all.

You can imagine how it broke my heart to see a bird flying half heartily, clearly injured, and not be able to get to it. As much as I wanted to help it, my attempts at rescuing it were probably causing more harm than good. It was a difficult realization. I sat in my car and contemplated whether I should try again to help the bird or not. I prayed about it and I called a friend. It was hard to leave the poor bird in God’s hands, but His hands are, after all, much safer than mine and a lot less scary to a helpless sparrow. I drove away. Days later, I still think about that bird I could not help.

Sometimes our lives are like that. We can love hundreds of people. We can care very much. Even when it’s difficult to recognize, sometimes walking away is the kindest thing we can do. Sometimes our presence is not what’s best even when it’s wanted so badly. It’s not that we don’t care or that we don’t love – it’s that we do so much.

Sometimes our careers or even our dreams demand that we take a step back and reevaluate our contributions. If we have built a strong brand and established a legacy, sometimes it’s time to remove ourselves and let others take the lead. Maybe it’s time to trust the people we have developed enough to let them shine their own light as opposed to merely reflecting our own. Maybe it’s time for a different adventure.

Moving forward doesn’t mean our core changes. If we are kind, we will continue to be kind – not just to pretty creatures but to turtles and worms, and even to people who don’t deserve it. That is the definition of grace. Although it’s easy to demand justice of others, we desire grace for ourselves; therefore, kindness should always be extended freely.

If we are leaders, we will continue to lead. If we are good, we will be good. What’s important is that we look at people and situations and determine where we can be of help by being present and when we can demonstrate greater compassion by removing ourselves and trusting God to be God.

We can’t save the world and we can’t make everyone happy. Life is full of hard decisions. We need to be prepared to step up and know also when to step back. Walking away is not weakness; it is wisdom. “God help us to know when and how our gifts can best be used to serve others and to honor you. If you ask us to stay, give us strength. If you ask us to move, give us courage. Comfort us in our decisions. Forgive us and help us to forgive ourselves. – Amen.”

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