It was springtime and the ducks were migrating north. Our pond was a perfect rest stop along the way. I decided to take some grain down to the pond and feed them.

I knew they would appreciate the treat after a long flight.

With a bucket of grain under my arm, I ran down to the pond calling them to come and enjoy a fresh grain culinary masterpiece. When they saw me running down the hill toward them, they moved further out into the lake.

When I jumped into the water, they moved further away. “Here Ducky, here Ducky,” I shouted. The more I persisted, the further away they swam. Now the water was at my shoulders and the grain was getting wet. Don’t they know that I’m trying to feed them. I’m trying to help them.

Grandpa was fishing at the other end of the pond. He saw the whole event. When I got over to him, I was dripping wet, the grain was wet, and I was mad.

“Grandpa, what’s wrong with these ducks? I’m trying to feed them and they just swim away.”

He smiled, trying to see some hope in his grandson and said, “ Do the ducks know that you are trying to feed them?” “All they saw was someone running toward them, hollering, and then jumping in the pond.” “If I was a duck, I’d go the other way, too.”

He explained two important premises for feeding ducks: Ducks

  1. They won’t look for food until they are hungry.
  2. They won’t eat from the hand that will hurt them.

Did you ever see a new mom trying to feed her infant peas? He has more peas on his cheeks and bib and mom has peas on her hand, arms and dress. If he isn’t hungry for peas, she can’t make him eat them.

Helping people in their lives is not any different than feeding ducks in the pond or peas to a baby. You can’t help people until they want your help. You can’t help people until they are willing to change the things that they are doing that got them in the their current situation. If they are like the ducks in the pond that are just comfortable going pond to pond for a swim, then jumping in the pond with them will only make waves, frustrate their swim and get you all wet.

If I walked down to the pond, sprinkle some grain along the shore and grabbed a seat, the hungry ducks will come, check out the menu and the diner, and make a recommendation to all the ducks that swim in the pond. They won’t look for food until they are hungry. They won’t eat from the hand that will hurt them.

You will do more good helping the people who want to be helped rather than worrying about the people who don’t want to be helped. Focus on people who are willing to change, willing to grow, willing to move beyond the past. The past can’t be changed. The future is a decision.

There is a difference between those who can’t change and those who won’t change. The baby who is allergic to peas will die if he eats them. He can’t eat them. We must change the diet. The baby who doesn’t like peas won’t eat them. We keep them in front of him until he is willing to change. When he is willing to change, we can feed him.

There will always be people around who can’t change. Physical or mental disabilities may prevent or impede change. They will adjust to the disability. We see examples everyday especially in our veterans. They change the things they can change and adapt to the things they can’t change.

Those who really can’t change are easier to recognize than those who won’t change. Can’t change is out of our control. Won’t change is a decision.

Feeding the ducks was a decision to reach out and help. Most people have it in their hearts to reach out and help. But Grandpa also taught me one other important principle. If you continue to feed the ducks, they won’t move on. They will become dependent on your help. When you leave, they won’t have any feed…they won’t know how to find food…they will die.

We help people who are willing to help themselves. We want to help them help them selves. Then, when we are gone, they will survive. Isn’t that the dream of every parent? We want our children to be come self-sufficient…to be able to take care of themselves. The comfort in the heart of every parent is knowing that their child will be safe and successful when he leaves home.

If you find yourself all wet or with peas up to your knees, its time to look at how you are trying to help people. If the ducks move on fat and fluffy and your child likes peas, then you are doing it right. Helping people gives comfort to our hearts. It is a special gift that we received and can share. Reach out and touch someone. Make it a great day!

Dr L