The Blind Leading The Blind

The other day I encountered an elderly blind man in the city centre. He was experiencing some difficulties as double decker buses roared past, mere feet away. I instinctively wanted to go to his aid but the introverted, socially awkward voice in my head held me back. ‘You don’t talk to strangers, Stephen. What if he spurns your offer of help, becomes offended, tells you to clear off and leave him alone?’

I stood there, watching the man, as this internal monologue raged within me. In the end, my guilty conscience outweighed the reticence. In some ways, it was a selfish as opposed to selfless act. Imagine if I turned on the news later to discover the man had been mown down in the rush hour traffic. Never mind the poor man’s family, would I ever be able to live with myself?

I took the plunge, approached the man, and politely asked did he require assistance, half expecting to be told to bugger off and mind my own business. Before the words had departed my lips, however, he gratefully grabbed hold of my forearm and thanked me, explaining where he was going. His knowledge of Belfast street names far outweighed mine, and he knew exactly where he was going.

The problem was, he had strayed a few yards off his predetermined route and lost his bearings. I carefully guided him across the street as he chatted cheerfully, before thanking me and continuing his journey with renewed confidence and purpose. He wasn’t too proud not to accept help when he found himself in a bit of bother. I headed in the opposite direction, impressed by his positive attitude and refusal to let his disability get the better of him.

I know our blog has several followers who are blind or partially sighted. Others have a range of other physical disabilities or chronic illnesses. Many have mental health problems. Blogging is our shared passion, the medium whereby we tell our stories and encourage one another. WordPress is a sanctuary of sorts to us, where we take temporary shelter from the worries of the outside world. It is our safe place, a place where we can be us.

Despite his disability, this man was not afraid to step out across a chilly Belfast on a busy weekday morning and do what he had to do. He wasn’t going to allow his disability to dictate his life for him. He refused to succumb to it and hide at home, wallowing in self pity, as I would have been tempted to do. He rose above it and, even though it was a difficult journey, he persevered. I know he reached his final destination.

He taught me a lesson. He teaches us all a lesson. We are all on a journey and, at times, we will stray off course or encounter unexpected challenges. We cannot allow those to put us off and must keep our eyes fixed on the prize. Where we falter, we should not be afraid to accept the arm of a well meaning stranger. For, while blind, the vision and passion of this man put me to shame.

I moan, I complain, I sulk and I pout. We all do. But that can only be temporary, we cannot allow transitional emotions to define who we are and deflect us from the path we were born to travel. There was a light within this man’s soul which lit up the path ahead for him, a light I have been struggling to ignite for some years now. It truly was a case of the blind leading the blind. On a freezing Belfast morning I was the one being led.

Have you ever helped a person in need on the streets?

Are you in need of spiritual direction?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 15 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

38 thoughts on “The Blind Leading The Blind

  1. Sounds like you were the one who was blessed by helping the man. 🙂 As we say in Texas, Ain’t that the way? Let us not let media pushed ideas about disabilities stop us from offering help. Jesus says serving others is the greatest thing we can do! Of course Satan wants to stop that. Argh.

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  2. Very well said. I’ve helped old people cross busy roads and a few other things like that.

    I find I don’t mind helping others, in fact I quite like it, but I don’t like asking for help even when I am in need of it.

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  3. Your first paragraph outlined the failure of many of us; the fear of rejection. We see a need and overthink it to the point we do nothing. As we stall, the problem may go away. It might also become deadly. Many of us have lost tremendous blessing just because we didn’t move. WWJD.

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  4. Yes indeed, this gentleman was making the best of his disability. Those of us who have restrictions due to medical issues (mine is Parkinson’s Disease) can certainly take a great lesson from his attitude. The fact that I have a burden to carry in my later years does not replace the fact that God has called me be His disciple and I am determined to carry on with my commitment to Him to the very end.

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  5. As a legally blind person, thank you for helping him. I’m always glad when people help me if I need help. It’s waving for me to go from the car, when I’m clearly holding a white cane that’s a neon “he’s blind” sign, that bothers me.

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  6. I love this. But maybe what I love more is the rare ability people have to learn and grow from the small life lessons. So important! Bravo.

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  7. What I love about this story is that you had the feelings of fear/the negative thought telling you not to bother, but you didn’t give into it. That’s awesome! You helped someone and in turn, he encouraged you. I loved that part about how we get off course but we have to simply keep going; it reminds me of my present journey.

    Re: helping someone on the street–When I used to work on the north side years ago, I had parked on a residential street and walked up to the corner to cross at the stop sign (after that I’d walk east up to the main street to walk to the building I worked in). I noticed a middle-aged/elderly woman waiting and I sensed she was afraid to cross (traffic on the north side can be a little crazy). She may have been standing there for some time. I wondered if I should say anything and I did. I asked her if she was trying to cross and she said yes. I think I said “Cross with me” or gestured as if to say “come on.” And we both crossed together. I had totally forgotten about this but I was glad that I was able to help.

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  8. Well said/written! Yes I do try to help people, but of late I am so drained taking care of a sick hubby, my cat, and myself I am often blind to the needs of others. Thank you for the encouragement.

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  9. It takes courage to take action on what our hearts want us to do. Good on you, Stephen! I usually help people find things in grocery stores. I guess I always somehow look like I work there?? LOL My spiritual direction is a long winding road 😉 Let’s talk sometime melaniesartspace@gmail.com

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