Mason County News
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The Feeling of Helplessness Overwhelms
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 • Posted October 8, 2008

There isn't a one of us that hasn't been there.

A friend has had something terrible happen in their lives, and they begin to cry. You, not sure about the reasons for their sadness, and uncertain what prompted the tears, stand at a distance trying to figure out what to do next. It is a helpless feeling, and one that is not solved by looking about frantically, faking a phone call, or simply saying, "It'll get better."

When those helpless situations occur, we get angry with ourselves for not knowing how to handle them better. There's a small part of us that is angry at the person making us feel helpless, as if it were their fault that we are so ill equipped to handle an uncomfortable situation. Mostly, we just want to disappear quietly, and then try to pretend that the situation never occurred.

Helplessness can be tragic. We see something horrible happening; but, our feet are glued to the ground and we can't seem to think through the situation enough to help. These moments usually pass, and if we're lucky, no one has been seriously injured. Afterward, we tell ourselves that next time we'll know exactly how to react; but, that's what we said the time before this one.

Helplessness can be comic. Very few husbands can claim they have never felt their head spin and their palms become clammy when their wife asks, "Do you know what today is?" She may be talking about the vet appointment for the dog, your son's baseball game, or her birthday. The problem is, you aren't sure about the exact time or dates of any of those things.

So what do we guys do? Well, of course, we try to fake our way out of it.

"Why, of course I know what today is. What makes you think I would forget?"

Give it up. They know that we're clueless, and they're now just seeing how far we will try to go to keep from appearing completely lost. I think it's a game they learn after jacks but before jump rope! And they're good at it.

So much of our helplessness is brought about because of the veritable deluge of information and news that we're treated to every day. One hour of cable news offers more disasters and debacles than someone could deal with in a year. Financial, political, ecological, social... everywhere one turns, there is bleak news, and forecasts don't appear to offer much cheery news.

So, we shrug our shoulders, wring our hands, drop our heads and ponder the hopelessness of it all. There seems to be nothing we can do.

But we can.

As a person of faith, I pray about hopeless situations. I pray for understanding. For guidance. For patience and tolerance. I pray that I'll know the right thing to do, the right thing to say, the right thing,,,,, for whatever arises. As a person of faith, I know that many situations truly are beyond my control. That doesn't make me helpless, it only makes it more difficult for me to exert a direct influence. So I hand off the tough part of the equation to God and I tackle the things I can.

And I become empowered by allowing God to deal with the tough stuff. I'm freed up to help the friend who is in tears. I'm quicker to respond when an emergency is occurring in front of me. I no longer feel that all the problems of the world have to be dealt with before I can take a step - I don't even feel like all my own problems have to be solved before moving forward.

Does it really help!

Well, here's another edition of the paper in your hands, and I've already moved on to the next edition!

It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.

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