A homeless man there on the street

Too ashamed to ask for a bite to eat

Cars pass under and over the bridge he sleeps beneath

But he is not your responsibility

A young mother struggling on her own

Her friends and family left her all alone

Now she doubts her own capability

But she is not your responsibility

A friend left stranded in the middle of the night

All that she needs is a simple ride

But she acted so irresponsibly

And she is not your responsibility

A child lost and searching for his mother

Surely he will find help from another

That he might be kidnapped seems beyond probability

And he is not your responsibility

A loved one at the end of the rope

Just trying not to lose all hope

Emotions buried under a cloak of invisibility

Still, she is not your responsibility

If not your responsibility, then who?

Is there absolutely nothing that you could do?

Just step outside yourself long enough to see

Is love not everyone's responsibility?

Listen to my heart, friend, "It's going to be okay. You're going to be okay."

Those powerful words are from a blog post by Becky Thompson entitled What You Probably Need to Hear the Most Right Now. Sometimes all it takes is hearing those words from someone else to make it all seem a little less overwhelming and to lighten a person's worries, burdens, and fears. You can read the full article here if I have not already shared it with you:

We have all been in a position at some point in our lives when the kindness and compassion of another makes all the difference in the world. Life can become overwhelming in a heartbeat. At any given time, anyone can experience moments of fear, frustration, desperation, pain, and intense heartache. It is during such times that words of encouragement, a hug, or an ear to listen mean so much more.

When the world around a person seems to be closing in more and more every day and surviving is nothing more than going through the motions, one learns quickly why people are so opposed to swallowing their pride to accept charity. When people respond to knowing one is in need with half-hearted offers to assist only to let it be known just how perfunctory the offer really was when irritation shows and subtle comments about inconvenience are made, one learns to feel like a burden and ashamed to ask for anything.

On the other hand, when a total stranger, not even from the same town, happens to be jogging past a young pregnant woman walking her children to the store for food because her husband has been arrested for child support he could not afford to pay, her electricity is off, and she has no car stops to ask if she is okay and lets her know she is a good mother, it can bring a woman to tears. When that same stranger spends a couple hundred dollars to make sure the woman's babies have Christmas, a woman learns to be humble, but grateful for the blessings of earthly angels.

When people that do not even know the full story judge harshly and those that know only part of it turn away, one learns to see great value in compassionate hearts that see the person behind the situation. One learns to be eternally grateful for those that choose to make someone else their responsibility, if only for a moment in time.

Ultimately, everyone is responsible for his or her own happiness, despite circumstances. Everyone is also responsible for making changes for the better, if possible. But it takes great strength to do so when the path is long, winding, and often lonely. Struggles may seem never-never-ending. Hope and faith may wane from time to time. Intellectually knowing one is still of value - even knowing it in one's heart - is different than hearing someone else confirm it. Knowing things eventually become less overwhelming is different than hearing words of encouragement to hang in there. How we respond to those around us has great power.

More by this Author

Comments 36 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

Beautiful article shanmarie. We should pray for all these in need but the scriptures themselves teach us we have a further responsibility than that. If each of us helped just one person a week (or even month) as well as we could afford; what a much better world this would be!

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

A very tough and truthful lesson here. Thank you for a strong nudge in the right direction.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

That's so true, Jackie. Our own lives would be better for it too, even if inconvenienced once in a while. Plus, a cheerful giver is what we are supposed to be. And not to be boastful about it.

Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

You're welcome, Eric. One time, I heard a woman scream in terror in the woods behind the porch I was standing on. It was late at night and dark. I thought to go call the police to try to describe the direction the sound seemed to me to come from. However, the person I was with thouht it came from another direction and that it was in a residential area instead. This person said it was probably just a domestic squabble that would lead a neighbor to call the police if they did not stop. So I foolishly relented and did not follow my gut reaction to notify authorities.

About a week (maybe less) later, we heard on the news that a woman's body was found inside in the very spot I thought the scream came from.

Very shocking and haunting. It's not the kind of thing one easily forgets.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

It is so easy for some to look the other way when they see someone in need. Harsh words often spoken. Judgemental instead of lending a hand. Responsibility is a wonderful word we all should heed to. Beautiful piece!!

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Ruby! It is indeed very easy to look the other way, but sometimes.there is more to the story than we know or than rumors have revealed. People are presumed to be drug addicts, alcholics, laxy, or whatever that may actually be trying hard already to take care of themselves honestly and without begging. We just never really know and cannot even come close to knowing without knowing the person on a personal level.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York

We certainly need to take responsibility for our actions but when unexpected hardships hit it is our duty to try to help others. No one should be forgotten in their time of need.

This entire piece if beautiful from start to finish.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Mary, if I may call you that. I do think we should try to help in any way we can during unexpected hardships, no matter how small anf even if it is just to offer a prayer or a hug. Collectively, it all makes a huge impact. Sometimes even individual offers make even more of an impact.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

Oh, Shan, these are such wise words expressed directly and without any excuses for why we did not have time to lend a hand or share a smile with someone hurting, or listen. This is the way we should all live our lives, and then no doubt this world would be a much kinder place in which to live!

Bless you and yours always

U++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

Hugs and much love

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 23 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Our greatest responsibility is to serve others whether it be a kind deed or a kind word. You have written a powerful message and I intend to share your hub with others. Voted up and across. Blessings and love to you shanmarie.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Theresa. Hugs and love right back at you. Excuses may be valid and informative, but also pointless, especially when it really just comes down to no real desire to assist, smile, listen, spend time, or exert sny sort of effort.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you so much, Audrey! It is a big responsibility, but it does not have to be seen as a heavy one.

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

This is thought-provoking and very profound. The ability to empathize and reach out to those in need, is what makes us human. We may well be the ones in need of help one day. I have to say, I do believe in karma. Beautifully done. Up and sharing.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa

We are first of all responsible for ourselves and the children we have brought into this world. Taking up any other responsibilities have to be done with great care and wisdom. But this does not mean that we must turn our head the other way when a person in need crosses our path, or even calls from far away. Without losing our sense of responsibility we are actually supposed to serve each other. The question is how much can we do without being irresponsible? Down here in SA feeling sorry for someone walking next to the road with or without children, so sorry that you decide to give them a ride, may be the very last thing you do in the world of the living. Even teenagers are capable of cutting a Good Samaritan's throat. Thought-provoking hub! Thank you, shanmarie :)

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, tobusiness. It does come back to us, because giving has great power to heal the ggiver's spirits too.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

That's terrible, Martie. However, it is unfortunately true here as well. One must be careful and aware of who and how one helps to avoid danger. Also, one cannot over- extend oneself. There are ways to make a difference, though, and turning a blind eye just for being jaded is no good for anyone.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 23 months ago from The Caribbean

Powerful message in your beautiful poem. Throughout the entire post, you gave us very good points to consider concerning our responsibility to others. Touching!

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 23 months ago from Riga, Latvia

A very important message indeed. So many people choose to ignore and see that others can help and sometimes it takes so little to make someone smile and appreciate what you have done for them.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks so much, MsDora. Of course, being human, we all fall short sometimes, but if we were all just a little more aware. . .imagine the possibilities.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Hi Rasma. Yes. You know, I recently saw a pizza shop owner from Philadelphia, I believe, on TV that has a system set up to feed the homeless. His customers pay a dollar in exchange for a sticky note that gets left on a wall. Those notes then get traded by the homeless for a slice of pizza. Amazing what just one dollar given away can do. Because of him and people willing to share a slice with someone else, folks know they are assured at least one meal a day. They also get to sit and interact with people that might otherwise pass them by as if they were invisible.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 23 months ago from California

This is thought provoking--and we are our brothers' keepers I think! Important message!!

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Hi, Audrey. We always say we are not our brothers' keeper, but in many ways, we should be. Other ways, not so much.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 23 months ago from England

Hi, lovely piece, I do try to help others if I think they need help, in fact I did it the other day, long story, but so many people just don't see it, great poem too! voted up and shared! nell

truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 23 months ago from New Orleans, LA

You made a good point that sometimes all people need is an encouraging word. So often, people are just trying to hold on to what they have and are worried that others want what they have. When, not everything is about money.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Hi Nell. People don't need to see someone help, if that's what you mean. The purpose is not for attention for helping. It feels good even if it is never acknowledged. On the other hand, if you mean some people just don't see another in need, that is true. Often it is just overlooked, though.

Thank you for reading, voting up, and sharing.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

You are right that not everything is about money, truthfornow. Things aren't always what they seem.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

I truly believe there is much to giving and being blessed whether we do it for that reason or not. I know I cannot throw away perfectly good clothing and have always shared mine while screaming at other family members who would rather throw theirs in the trash than make a little trip to drop them off. I know I have tons of clothes and the more I give away the more I get and I have always said now if I can only learn to do that with money! Although I do give it does not compare to what I give in clothing. I hate anymore that most of the places you take them too though sell them! Is there any charity that does not sell them now?

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Yes, Jackie. There are places like food banks or that work in conjunction with them that five them.away. They usually limit the number that can be taken at a time, though.

Someone once never to refuse something someone gives me or it denies tthat person their blessing.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

Reaching out even in small way with kind words and deeds can make a world of difference.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 23 months ago from Texas Author

Yes, Flourish. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 22 months ago

This is just beautiful! And it is no surprise coming from a beautiful heart. I believe this is something that needs to be shared and many times over until those who read this, can absorb how true the words are.

We need to lend a hand up and a hug to comfort those who so need someone to say, "I know how you feel, I have been there." And maybe it isn't the same heartbreak or struggles directly. But none the less it is a struggle. And we all can relate to that. Shared and up she goes.

Blessings for you always...

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 22 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Jo. I needed to hear that today. Sometimes my heart has good intentions but I get in the way of myself. Hugs.

word55 profile image

word55 4 months ago from Chicago

Very thoughtful and orchestrated poem here Shanon. I like the way you put thoughtfulness into words/a poem. Keep up the good work.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 4 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, word. I appreciate your taking the time to read so many of my hubs at once.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 months ago from Nashville Tn.

What a marvelous hub! It takes so little to share some kindness with others. "There but the grace of God go I." Thank you and sharing.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 4 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, vocalcoach. A little bit of kindness often goes a long way.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    shanmarie profile image

    Shannon (shanmarie)221 Followers
    165 Articles

    Click to Rate This Article