Help, Don’t Hurt

NatureThursday, February 13

By Paul McCain of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

—Romans 12:18

Over the years, trying to condense learning into something useful for every day, I gravitate to a mantra. It is a simple statement, and I can fit it neatly into many circumstances. It is, “Help, don’t hurt.”

When I interact with co-workers, clerks, church folks, family, and friends, in the time (sometimes seconds) just before I speak or act, I pose a silent question: “Will this help or hurt?” This seemingly simple question is heavy at times.

In discussing this with friends, a concern about “playing God” arises. I have no qualms about asking, “What would Jesus do?” In discerning what the Lord would have me do, I find it helpful to pray for guidance, and then ask, “What should I do here?”

In class settings I draw a vertical line down the middle of a board. I title the left side “Help,” the right side “Hurt.” I then ask for words and phrases for either side. I try to avoid general words in favor of specific actions. Next, if someone hasn’t already suggested it, I ask if there are those that fit on the opposite side.

With extremes set aside, we end up with everyday stuff that requires our action. We discuss how we can make sure we are sensing the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And, we discover that “practice” is the best way to proceed.

May we get better at understanding God’s direction in our lives as we seek to help, not hurt, others.

Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, help us pause and choose a more helpful way to respond to others. Even when we’re right, help us choose to not hurt. Help us lean toward reconciliation and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Healing and Reconciliation
Gather a small mound of stones. Meditate on the stones as symbols of differences and destructive acts that continue to separate and wound the human family. Name and anoint each “stone wound” with a drop of water or scented oil. Offer them to God in a prayer for healing and reconciliation.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will compose a mantra for my life that will help, and not hurt.

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