Reflection #6 – On Serving

“Seeing yourself as a fixer may cause you to see brokenness everywhere, to sit in judgment on life itself. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them.” –Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., “My Grandfather’s Blessings”

ServiceThe quote above comes from a chapter in the book called “Belonging.” In it, Remen, the author, describes the difference between serving, helping, and fixing. She describes serving as a “relationship between people who bring the full resources of their combined humanity to the table and share them generously.” When you help someone, she says, it creates an inequity in the relationship, the helper being stronger than the one being helped. Fixing implies we know what’s best for someone else.

When I sent out this week’s theme, I suggested you be careful. I was concerned that people would interpret it as a call to go out and “fix” their friends, which is far from what I had in mind. What I was aiming for was better stated in the Mid-Week Inspiration message, summed up in psychologist Debbie Hall’s essay for the radio program “This I Believe.” She wrote about the importance of simply “being there” for people.

So in presenting this theme I wanted to avoid having you try to “fix” your friends. What I hoped for was a situation in which you could “serve” a friend in need. A big part of true kindness, I think, comes when we serve.

It may be that kindness only comes when we serve.


  1. This post really speaks to me. I know when someone helps me with something, it feels much better when it is posed as the two of us tackling something together or putting our brains together rather than another person solving my problem. By the way, Rachel Naomi Remen’s books have been a blessing to me. I loved seeing the quote from her on here. It’s interesting to me that I have become more and more aware of judgments being made by myself and others over the past year or so. My hope is that recognition of it is a step toward letting go of it. Thanks for the reminder that we are all in this together. Happy Tuesday!

    1. I’m so pleased to have you participating and commenting! BTW, a couple of years ago I facilitated a kindness class using one of Remen’s books. I’m thinking of repeating it. Interested?

      1. I would be very interested in participating in a workshop based on Rachel Bremen’s writing. I came across your blog at a very good point in time (serendipity often feels orchestrated doesn’t it?). The exercises are helping to pull me out of my own head and reach outward and upward. Thank you. “Working on happy” is actually much easier to do with an outward focus. Keep up your terrific work.

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