Tool 14: Helping Others
The last of the 20 steps to Teshuvah of Rabeinu Yonah, and the last of the 12 Steps to breaking free of addiction both talk about helping others who are struggling with the same issues we struggle with. As David Hamelech writes in Tehhilim 51 (the famous Kappitel of Teshuva after the story of Bat Sheva): "alamda poshim dirachecha, vechataim eilecha yashuvu - I shall teach sinners your ways, and sinners to you will return".
But this is not just about Teshuvah, and it's not even just about helping others. This is about our own personal recovery. There is no better way to assure our own long term sobriety than to be in constant contact with the Guard Your Eyes community and to be helping others every day. Whether it is by being an accountability partner or sponsor for someone else who is struggling, or whether it is through posting on the forum, we are needed out there - and we need the others out there even more.
It is interesting to point out that the addicts of AA often found that if they did not make the purpose of their recovery to help others as well, they could do everything else in the 12-Step program, but sooner or later the addiction would relapse. The reasoning behind this is that if our whole recovery is only self-serving, we can easily get it confused with doing what we feel like doing, which is also self-serving. However, if we are continuously thinking of others, it keeps us on the right track as well.
And this is one of the secrets to understanding the importance of the Mitzva of "ve'ohavto le'reiecho kamocha - loving your fellow man as yourself" which Rabbi Akiva called a "klal gadol ba'Torah - a great cornerstone of the Torah". When we are not just living a "self serving" existence but rather living for others, we can learn how to truly do the will of Hashem for His sake. Indeed, Rav Chaim Volozhin is quoted as saying (by his son in the hakdomo to Nefesh haChaim) that the entire purpose of our existence is to do for others.
Before we even discuss the various ways that we can try and help others, there is one powerful thing that we can all do right now. There are probably thousands of other Jews around the world who unfortunately struggle in these areas too, suffering in shame and silence, who never even heard of Guard Your Eyes. It is clear that we can merit much divine help in our OWN struggles if we help spread the word so that others can be helped as well. Contact us (gye [dot] help [at] gmail [dot] com) to get a standard e-mail that looks like a “chain e-mail”, and either you or we can send it out to your contact lists.
What else can we do to help others? Even if we are just starting out on our journey, we can try to find someone else to partner with and share chizuk. The accepted rule in the GYE community is that if we are clean for more than 90 days, we can already be a "sponsor" for someone else as well. But regardless of whether we are a partner or a sponsor, we can share experience, strength and hope with others, and help them along on their journey.
One of the best ways to strengthen others is on our forum, where hundreds of Yidden post about their journeys; their struggles and their victories. Also, as we discussed above, we can sign up for a partner/sponsor on our website.
Not only is helping others a great therapy for our own struggles, but also "Midah kineged Midah", the more we help others heal and spread the GYE message of Teshuvah and hope, Hashem will surely help us in ways we never imagined possible! We can also help others by strengthening GYE’s holy work (see donation options on line).