Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hand-out. Hand-up. It's my choice.

It was another early morning. I had to be at a TV station by 6:45 am in order to be ready to be on air at 7. Yawn.

I love early mornings. In fact, they're my best time of day. But normally, I don't interact with people at that hour. Even the puppies don't get up until after seven. An hour and a half after I've been up and at 'em, quietly working alone on my computer.

It's a stretch.

But a good one.

This is Homeless Awareness Week in Calgary. Lots of activities. Lots of events focused on increasing awareness around the issues of homelessness and the actions individuals can take to make a difference.

Before going on air, Dave Kelly, the Breakfast Show host, and I chatted about some of the challenges of homelessness.

"I don't get the difference between a hand-out or a hand-up?" he said. "Are we just kidding ourselves with words?"

Yup. I agreed. We are.

Doesn't matter what position the hand is in, if I'm in the gutter, unless I reach up to take the proffered hand, I'll still be in the gutter.

Hand-out. Hand-up.

When I was broken, and broke, I needed hand-outs and hand-ups to get back on my feet. Judging the quality of the hand's position, kept me stuck in the shame of being destitute. Accepting the hand as an offering of love and kindness, gave me the grace to be free of shame, to look with love upon the hand being offered, and know -- it was making a difference in my life.

At the time, my sister and her husband played a huge role in my recovery. They offered me both, hand-outs and hand-ups, so that I could catch my breath, get on my feet and find my balance again. I shall always be grateful for their non-judgemental hands and for their loving care.

In accepting their help, without judging their motivation, I was able to breathe freely, and move into living again with grace, ease and dignity. Looking at their helping hands with judging eyes would have put me into resentment -- nobody likes to feel like a welfare case. It destroys spirit, self-esteem, self-belief.

To be free, I had to free myself from resenting the position I found myself in, and accept that at that moment in time, I was exactly where I was at. Broken. Broke and wounded. In accepting my reality, I embraced what was true -- I had choice. I could choose to take necessary steps to create positive change. I could choose resentment. I chose LIFE.

The question is: Where do you keep yourself stuck in labelling the help you're given? Where do helping hands become slapping resentments in your mind?


Anonymous said...

Hand-out. Hand-up. . . sounds like the title of a book waiting for you to write it.


M.L. Gallagher said...

Good idea Mark!