The Hidden Gifts of Helping explores the very personal story of author Stephen Post and his family’s difficult move—what turned out to be a journey of faith. Post also tells about their experience with the healing power of helping others, as well as his passion about how this simple activity—expressed in an infinite number of small or large ways—can help you survive and thrive despite the expected and unexpected challenges life presents.
Post’s story is a spiritual journey that we can all relate to at some time in our lives. Intertwined with supporting scientific research and spiritual understanding, the book demonstrates that by looking outside of ourselves we gain better well-being and strengthen our faith. This book can become your companion and guide to the power of giving, forgiving, and compassion in hard times.
In this moving book, Post helps us discover how we can make “helping” a lifetime activity. “We can be anywhere, so long as we are helping others and caring for them. This is probably the one source of stability in our lives that we can truly depend on, and so in the end we are never really out of place,” states Post.
Post hopes that his family’s story will help readers in the same way the stories of others have helped him. Keep reading for an excerpt from a section entitled “God-Winks and Grace Notes”.
Although the universe often seems random and meaningless, we always need to remember that life is a gift from God and that there is meaning and purpose behind it. One way we can remember that is through what I call “god-winds and grace notes”—those improbably yet perfect events in life that some call “just coincidence,” but that feel as if they could only be orchestrated from above. Many people want or need to feel that God is working in their lives, and particularly in times of some brokenness; that God’s love is absolute despite all their shortcomings that God has been working in their lives from the very beginning and all along the way to bring them closer. Those God-winks are reassuring.
One of the ironies of our move from Cleveland to Setauket was that although Mitsuko and I figured we would weather the storm fairly easily, we were terribly worried about how Andrew would adjust. What a harsh thing to move a youngster away from his lifelong friends! I didn’t know it then, but our worry was quite unfounded. This move would turn out to be a tremendous and positive growth experience for our son. Still, at the same time, I was dearly in need of a God-wink or tow. And, so as often happens, I had to wait for them.
A year-and-a-half after the move, I happened to be in New York City on business and stopped by the Church of St. Thomas on 53rd and Fifth because it is just so beautiful architecturally, and because my dad went there when he was a boy growing up on the upper east side of Manhattan. I stumbled into a noon communion service. After it was over, I approached the priest, Rev. Andrew Mead, and began to tell him about our move and our worries about our son. “Fourteen now,” he winced, “that’s a tough age.”
He told me that when he was that age, his family moved away from a place he liked a lot because his father had to take a new job. He remembered his mother’s words exactly: “Andrew, I know this hurts, but we have to do this for Dad.” He said that even today, fifty years later, the fact that he recalls such detail shows what a dramatic transition this was. Two Andrews moving hard at the same age! This was more than coincidence. It was maybe God winking at me, or so the mind is wired to think…
…I had wandered into this church and just felt the urge to talk to this stranger about all that was on my mind. And it so happened that he empathized deeply, because he had moved at about the same age as my son and shared the name Andrew. I took this as God’s gift, as an experience of God’s love through another person. Our national survey indicates that most Americans do have this sense that God’s love inspires other people to connect with us at times. The encounter with Rev. Andrew Mead was somewhat confirming of this move. People are wired to want that confirmation. People look for God-winks, little signs that God is with them behind the scenes.
The Hidden Gifts of Helping by Stephen G. Post
Jossey-Bass ~ February 22, 2011
ISBN 978-0470887813/Hardcover/224 Pages