A year had passed since I had heard from my friend, so I was pleasantly surprised when a familiar name appeared on my Caller ID; 'Jeremiah Bereano', it read! ( 'Well, hello, Doc ( I like to kid him about his Ph D. ); I was about ready to write you off as dead ( either that, or he didn't like me anymore )!'
'Maybe you should', he said, for a while there; I almost felt like it!'
Knowing I might regret it, I asked him, 'What's up?' He began to tell me about his life over the past year. Kinda like mine, it had been marked by change, change so extreme that he didn't know sometimes, what he was going to do! He felt, he told me, like 'butter spread over too much toast' ( a reference to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ), like he was stretching himself to thin, trying to help others so much that he had let his own needs fall by the wayside! 'I know the feeling', I assured him, 'I've kinda been feeling that way myself!'
'Have you now', he said, gratingly ( God, how I resented that man sometimes ), 'have you ever thought that maybe you just want to punish yourself, and therefore you use the excuse of helping others!'
'Preposterous', I almost shouted into the phone, 'I just want to help people wherever and whenever I can'. And furthermore, why would I want to punish myself?' 'Nevermind; don't answer that: and you called me, not the other way around!' 'YOU obviously had something you needed to get off your chest!'
'I did', he said, 'I told you how I'd been feeling, and YOU shut ME down!'
(Sheesh ) 'I didn't mean to shut you down, bro, I was just commiserating with you!!' ( How can a guy get so..............nevermind ) When he had calmed down, he proceeded to tell me that when he had stopped trying to help others so much, 'spreading himself too thin', so to speak, things only seemed to get worse!
'It's almost like I'm being punished', he complained!
I asked him what he though he was being punished for. He replied that when he was helping others wherever and whenever he could, things had been going great, though he as tired most of the time, he had felt pretty good, but since he had started trying to take better care of himself and stopped trying to take care of everyone else, it seemed that everything had started to go to 'pot'!
'Maybe you have a point there, bro' I said thoughtfully, ' maybe your 'going & going' just finally caught up with you because you slowed up enough for it to catch up!' 'I don't think you're being punished for thinking about you; every once in awhile, we have to slow ourselves down and take care of ourselves, because if we neglect ourselves, how can we care for the rest of the Body?!'
'You have a valid point, there, Chuck', he replied matter-of-factly, 'but if we continue doing Kingdom Work all the time, won't God take care of all our needs?'
Well, he had a point there too, but I didn't tell HIM that! I just stated that, yes, if we seek first His Kingdom, that all these things will be added to us, but that God gave us a brain as well, to know when we needed to slow down and replenish our own resources! 'Sometimes', I reminded him, 'we just need to learn 'when to say when', and even to say 'NO'! 'There is a fine point between helping the helpless and helping the hopeless, I told him! 'Sometimes, people are just lazy, and all they do is drag you down with them!'
'You have a point there, Chuck', he said, seeming to cheer a bit, but how do we tell who's helpless, and who's hopeless?'
'There's the 'rub', I said, it's not easy, sometimes, to distinguish between the two. but it must be done so that we don't destroy ourselves in the process!' Trying to help people is virtuous ( I feel that way myself ), but we can only help those who are hopeless so long before they begin to drag us down to their level, before we begin to miss the light at the end of the tunnel, or 'God forbid', even stop caring!
'So, what should I do?, he almost plaintively asked, 'I need help, bro!'
'Well', I told him, 'you've made the first step; you admitted that you need help, and the sooner you get yourself rested up and replenished the better; even those who help others need help sometimes, in fact, they need more!' First of all, I told him, he should not necessarily stop helping others, but that he should 'pace' himself; don't get so busy helping others to the neglect of your own body! And, again, to be careful who you try to help; some people are just beyond your capacity to help!
'Well', he sighed, 'I should probably get off here and get some things done around here!'
'You do what you need to do, bro; it's good to hear from you, Jeremiah!'
'You too, Charles!
Take care now!'
( God help that man! )