Our dog is a few months shy of her 17th birthday (in human years) and is experiencing some hip problems (weakness, stiffness, etc). More and more often, I find her sitting bewildered on the kitchen floor as she tries to figure out why she can’t just stand up.
This evening I found her in a similar predicament. I leaned over to help her and, using only my hands, tried to pull her up off the floor. This succeeded only in pulling her torso to a 90 degree angle over her back legs, not helping her situation at all.
The only thing that worked was for me to lean over her completely, wrap as much of her body in my arms as possible, pull her in against my torso in a giant bear hug, and then straighten, so that all 4 of her legs lifted equally and had a chance to gain purchase on the floor.
As we both walked our separate ways (me to the washer and she to her food bowl), I was struck by how even in a small, insignificant gesture like this, just how involved I had to be to actually help her. I couldn’t absent-mindedly lend a helping hand–my entire attention and body had to focus on her in that moment.
I wonder how many times I “help” others in a cavalier or less-than-focused frame of mind…and how much damage I do or how much effectiveness I lose by doing so. This was a good reminder to be fully involved in my interactions with others–a “life as ministry” philosophy, like the one that Barbara discusses here.