“My dad will help you.”
It was the second time in as many days that my two-year-old granddaughter had uttered this sentiment. “My dad will help.” Her dad, unfortunately, was in Hawaii vacationing with my daughter, which was why I was there in the first place, battling—and losing to—the Diaper Genie. The first time she’d said it, was the evening before while we read bedtime stories. The little pig in the book was clearly distraught, tears shooting in great arcs out of both his eyes.
“Aww, he’s sad,” I narrated. “His kite is stuck in the tree.”
She met my sympathetically woeful expression with reassurance. “My dad will help him.”
Now, sitting there amidst Genie parts, a “diaper sausage,”1 and a long string of unused bags, her repeated message led me through frustration into contemplation. My train of thought flowed something like this: Wow, my son-in-law is an amazing dad! She knows he’s always there to help. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had someone like him in life? Am I such a person? A recollection of my response to a recent petition for help bluntly answered that question.
Victor Hugo pegged me in his reluctant curate who, when asked to comfort a condemned prisoner demurred, “That is no affair of mine. I have nothing to do with that unpleasant task, and with that [scoundrel]: I…am ill; and besides, it is not my place.” You can almost hear the sputtering. A bishop, loftier in status and bearing a greater weight of responsibility, yet more humble, replied, “’Monsieur le Cure is right: it is not his place; it is mine.” Then, “he went instantly to the prison.”2
“It is not his place; it is mine.” No selfishness, no rationalization, no disengagement. Instead, ownership, compassion, action. Imagine the good we could do, the positive change we could effect by adopting this philosophy: “It is my place.” It is my place to respond kindly to anger. It is my place to protect the weak. It is my place to feed the hungry. It is my place to speak to the lonely. It is my place to bridge the gap. It is my place to be “father or mother, brother or sister, friend.”3 It is my place to be a “refuge and a present help in time of trouble.”4 It is my place to uphold, to rescue and honor.5 It is my place to answer when someone calls.6 It is my place to say, “Fear not … I will help you.”7
1 This is the technical term! Apt but disgusting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaper_Genie
2 Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, p.25
3 Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, p.25
4 Psalm 46:1
5 Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 91:15
6 Psalm 91:15
7 Isaiah 41:10