There it was. In the middle of the street, taking shelter in its own shell for protection. A dark green turtle the size of a dinner plate trying its best to stay alive.
I was taking a walk in the neighborhood when I came upon Poor Little Turtle. At first I didn’t know what I was looking at. When I realized it was a turtle in the middle (smack dab in the middle) of the road, I watched to see if it would show signs of trying to get out of the road.
After waving one car around the turtle, I decided to intervene. I would not allow Poor Little Turtle to have a gruesome fate! So there I went into the street to gently pick up the turtle and bring it to the grass. After successfully saving the turtle from what I felt was imminent death, I felt pretty proud of myself. I gave myself a new title, “Laura Nelson: Turtle Hero!”
I continued on with my walk, musing to myself what a friend I was to nature and how St. Francis would be so pleased with my act of service. I turned at the end of the block for the return trip on the other side of the street as per usual. That’s when I saw it.
The. Turtle. Was. Back. In. The. Street. Not only was the turtle in the street again. He was almost all the way on the opposite side of where I had “helpfully” left him! Evidently, Poor Little Turtle (PLT) was halfway to his goal of crossing the street when so “helpfully” moved him back to his starting point. So much for my “Turtle Hero” status.
After I laughed at myself for the folly of my ineffective “help,” I started to reflect. Where else in my life had I tried to help someone in the way I thought they needed help rather than the way they actually needed help? Had I been more of a hurdle than a hero to others in the past? In my haste to help, had I forgotten to observe and see what help was truly needed?
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m the only one who has made this well-intentioned mistake. Instead of listening and asking how we can help, we often rush in with well-intentioned assumptions that may actually be a setback for the person we help.
So, the next time you see a turtle in the road, wait and see what direction they’re heading before trying to “help.” And, if you’re trying to help a human, first ask them how you can help.
What about you? Have you ever found out that you were more of a hurdle than a help?
Copyright 2019 Laura B. Nelson