How many times have we all missed the opportunity to help someone along the way? I know for me, that has happened far too often. When I begin to think I’m unable to help or just too busy, I remember Stephanie. She taught me that I can never really help someone else without getting back more than I gave. Love has a way of doing that.
When I first met Stephanie I was teaching a parenting class at the Lafayette House, a place for women recovering from substance abuse and domestic violence. She seemed distracted and agitated and it was difficult for her to stay in her seat for any length of time. After class was over, Steph came up and we talked. She walked out the door and despite the fact that I had given her my number, she never called.
About a month later, I was back at the Lafayette House and there she was, sitting in the hall alone. I saw in her a sadness that wouldn’t allow me to just walk on past. As we sat and talked, she told me that she had relapsed back into her addiction. Things had seemed so hopeless that she had reached the point of trying to commit suicide. Her children had been put into foster care and there she found herself – overwhelmed, discouraged and very alone. Even at her lowest point, the woman who sat before me had a smile that radiated and a heart that was warm and open to change. And so the change began.
Once she left the Lafayette House, and a few phone calls later, Steph came to a Bible study I was teaching. Over time we became good friends and I watched Steph fight each and every day to stay clean. She has been successful in battling her addiction and now her boys are out of foster care and back with her. Through the years, she has developed an inward beauty that matches the outward beauty of her smile.
As we talked on the phone one day, Steph said something that will stay with me forever. We were discussing some of our friends who trying to break free from addictions. Our conversation was about a couple who found themselves homeless and desperate. Their situation reminded Stephanie of all the times in the past she had found herself in similar circumstances. She thought back to the times she had no where to go, no one to help her and no one who she believed cared. Thinking back to her lowest moment, she shared that her family and even her friends – everyone she knew – everyone had given up on her. And then she said it. The words I will never forget. The words that seem to linger in my mind and repeat over and over. “I just needed one person to believe I could make it. Just one person!”
God did send that one person for Stephanie and now her life is different because of it. She experienced something known as hesed in Hebrew. Hesed is a committed, faithful love that is offered not because someone feels obligated, but given without seeking anything in return. No expectations and no demands. It’s given in grace. And the amazing thing about grace is that once you’ve encountered it and experienced what it’s like to receive, you can’t help but give it to someone else. Having said that, I’m sure you must realize what Stephanie said next. She said, “I just needed one person to believe I could make it. Just one person. And now I want to be that one person for someone else!” She did, and she was, and she continues to be.
So as I go through the day to day walk of life, I try to keep my eyes open. To look for the opportunity to be “that one person” for someone else. I would challenge you to do the same. The world needs fewer people looking out for themselves and more people looking out for someone else. Who is in your life that just needs “one person”? Because it just takes one.
Romans 15:1-3 Msg “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter and not do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’ And that’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.”
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