We often romanticize the idea of struggling. We believe that some struggle on the way to achieving any desired outcome is somehow noble or part of how our character is forged.

But to see anyone, especially a loved one, truly struggle, is heart wrenching.  When I say truly struggle, I mean in the strict definition of the word, “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition.”    

When younger, I had a friend whose life was largely confined to a wheelchair. To see her struggle to stand in order to make the move from her wheelchair to the recliner where she spent most of her days was not noble – it was torture.  Her arms would violently shake as she slowly tried to lift herself up, when she finally plopped down in her chair, all her energy was gone.

This idea of strenuously fighting in the face of opposition is exhausting both for those struggling and those close to them who feel helpless.

Which is why rather than letting someone struggle on their own – in an effort to build resilience or character – we should do what we can to join the fight and alleviate the strain. To the extent, of course, we are welcomed to do so by those struggling in the first place.

Some may argue we don’t let people struggle enough. People should “dig down deep” or “battle through adversity”  as the reward will be all the sweeter. I’m not buying it.  

How do you feel when you are truly struggling?  Would you prefer to have someone beside you ready to lend a helping hand, to ease your burden?  Or do you find some kind of magical nobility in struggling by yourself with no one there to potentially help you if needed?.

If you see someone violently straining to overcome anything – whether it be a physical, mental or emotional challenge – would you not instinctively want to jump in an offer some kind of assistance?

Of course you would.

Yet we have so many around us who struggle needlessly, to make rent, to find work, to get proper medical treatment, to make sense of their world or find their way in it.

After witnessing my friend struggle to stand in order to leave one chair for another, I quickly learned to stand next to her, to offer her a hand to either support her weight or help lift her up – my level of assistance was dependent on what she wanted or needed that day. 

I sometimes wonder, “What is my role today in the struggles of others, today?”

I suspect it’s probably the same.

Who do you stand beside that is struggling….ready with a helping hand?

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