On the way home, I noticed a woman walking ahead with four shopping bags. I asked her if I could help her and she said yes. She gave me one bag but I insisted that she give me another so we could both share the load. It turned out she lived in my neighbourhood though we've never met before.
On the way, she told me she had to buy some crockery at the local store as her 5 kids tend to break them. I asked her how she could manage with 5 kids. She said it was a huge responsibility but her husband helps her. She said where she's from (Somalia) people's doors are always open and they are willing to look after each other's kids. In England, everyone tends to focus on their individual families. Even her brother, who lives in England, is too busy looking after his own family to give her much help. She said she believes Allah (God) is always helping her, which is true as it would seem Allah had inspired me to help her carry her shopping. I ended up walking my friend to her door. Before we parted, we exchanged hugs.
As I was walking back, it suddenly occurred to me that she was actually the third person I have helped with their shopping on her road. On the next road, I've helped 3 other residents.
It's always interesting offering help as people react in different ways. I always ask first if they require my assistance. Most people say yes.
One man I helped told me he felt guilty for my assistance. I reminded him that I had offered to help and there was no need to feel guilty. After I walked him to his door, he asked me how he could thank me. I asked for a hug, which he was happy to give me.
Another time I met a woman who actually asked me to help her carry her bag as she was moving to the area. At the time I was suffering from a pinched nerve and had actually been wondering how I was going to walk home when I was in so much pain. Still, I trusted that I had the resources in me to help a friend in need. While we were carrying the bag and chatting, I forgot all about the pain. By the time we arrived at her new home, the pain had dissolved.
Another woman I helped with her shopping asked me if I was a Christian. When I said no, she tried to convert me but I wasn't interested. After I said goodbye to her, I never expected to see her again. A few months later, as I was walking by her house, I noticed my sister-in-law's car parked outside. I asked her what she was doing there and she said she was picking up her work colleague, who was the same woman I had helped. Months later when my mother was ill and needed injections, which I didn't feel comfortable administering, my sister-in-law (who is a midwife) had to come round and administer them. One day when my sister-in-law couldn't make it, it was her colleague (the same woman I had helped with her shopping) who administered the injection.
I have no problem receiving help from people whether I know them or not.
Once a week, I push out our recycling and rubbish bins out to be collected. After the bins have been emptied, our neighbour downstairs pushes them back to their allotted spot. We've never asked her to do this, she just likes doing it. Do I feel guilty? Nah! I guess her actions fit in with my belief that the world is full of helpful people. And according to my belief, so be it.
I give thanks for all the help I have received; I am receiving now; and will receive in the future.
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