I am a VERY independent person. I don’t often ask for help and I can think of very few times in my life where I actually needed help with something. My recent foot surgery (post to come on all the lovely details!) required me to reach out in a way I’m not used to, or comfortable with.
Since this is a new area for me it gave me an opportunity to do some self reflection and realizations.
I am somewhat of a social media junkie. If you post something on facebook, there is a 90% chance I will at least “like” it. I’ve probably “retweeted” a tweet or two from you. I most def have “liked” your instagram photos. For me, social networking is a GREAT way to connect with others and when people are in need, it provides me a quick way to offer them my support. How do I do it? I will say a prayer RIGHT then for whatever that need may be (if I don’t pray right away then I’m likely to forget to pray later! I’ve found that in the moment is the BEST way to pray for others!) then I will say “let me know if you need anything!” I then sit back, feeling good about myself. I’ve prayed and I’ve offered help. What a fabulous way to serve others!
Only…guess what? My “service to others” isn’t really so serving after all.
Now that the tables have been turned and I’m the one who needs help, I realize that I meant well in my offering to “let me know how I can help!” but it wasn’t really helpful at all. While my offer to help is pure and true, I’d def help…it requires the help needer to ask for the help they need. I know I have appreciated EVERY facebook comment, text, phone call, prayer, etc. But have I responded to a SINGLE invitation of “let me know if you need anything?” Heck no. And when I sit back and think about it…has anyone who I have offered that service to ever actually contacted me and told me that they need something?
This time has been a big lesson to me. I big wake up in my area of serving others during times of need. Sure, when someone has a new baby I send food or a gift card. You know why? Because I’ve HAD babies and I KNOW how awesome it is to get that free meal when cooking is the last thing on your mind 🙂 I’ve never been injured or sick or otherwise “out of commission” so I’ve never known what people truly need during this type of time.
More than the sweet comments I’ve appreciated most the people who haven’t asked how they can help, they have just jumped into action. Brooke calling me even prior to surgery and setting up a day to bring a meal, Mrs. Charlotte clearing her schedule to help keep the kids, Casey insisting on sitting with me while Zach took the kids to church and cooking us a big enough meal for me to literally eat left over every day for lunch, Dad and Audrey sending beautiful flowers to look at from my boring bed, Robyn for bringing us yummy food and sweet treats, Courtney putting together a care basket for me etc etc etc. These people didn’t ask, they just jumped in and found a way to provide our family with many blessings during a time of need! It truly has inspired ME in a BIG way and I appreciate it so much 🙂
I’m def not minimizing the prayers and wonderful support of those who have been texting me or contacting me through social media…I appreciate all of that so, so much! However, I know for myself, I am pretty good already about doing those type of things. I’ll keep in touch with friends in need and check in on them…my lesson has been in DOING MORE. I want to do better in the area of serving others. I want to be one of those who doesn’t ASK but just DOES.
In thinking about that this week I’m kinda left with a feeling of discouragement. Sure, I feel inspired and eager to reach out to others. But since I AM so connected to SO many people, it feels a bit daunting. I don’t have the time, energy or resources to be cooking home cooked meals and delivering them to everyone who has the need. We surely can’t afford for me to be sending gift cards off to every single person either. Of course for my core people (those close family and friends) I will drop anything to be there for them, but I want to help more than just my core crew. And I’m not sure how?
My goal is to stop using the phrases “let me know if you need anything” and “let me know how I can help” and instead start ACTING. Start just doing without having to be asked. Start fulfilling needs for those who, like me, may be too independent to voice them.
I’m hoping some of you may have some suggestions for me as to the HOW portion of this? My desire is there, but I’m just not sure how to fulfill it? What are some cost-effective ways that you reach out and help others???
Thank you SO much to EACH of you who has offered to help and who has sent up prayers for us during this time of healing! I def am not trying to minimize that in any way…I truly believe in the power of prayer and know that if I cannot help someone in any other way, prayer is always the best way I can!
What you just said- the power of prayer! You may not be able to drop everything and fly 8 hours to visit a friend, but you CAN call and pray for them, while they're on the phone with you. I KNOW which friends will pray for me, and I often call them before a daunting event and they stop whatever they're doing and pray RIGHT THEN and there.Also, those cute greeting cards that you can find online and have it shipped to them? It only costs a few bucks, and lets them know you cared enough to take the time out of your day to think about them!
I always send cards to people. It's an inexpensive way to show you're thinking of them. They often have cute blank cards on the dollar aisle at Target. Also, just from reading you blog I get the feeling that you're already doing a great job at being there for the people you care about!
Emily, I wanted to reach out and get your mailing address before your surgery but I didn't. Sometimes I'm great at reaching out to others and sometimes I fail miserably. I pray for people, I send cards (sometimes late), kids do artwork/cards, a surprise gift or care package. It's from the heart and with the best intentions. I'm thinking of you and wondering how you are doing. I'd love to have your address. My email is keenerfamily at gmail dot com. I'll give you my text number if you ever want to text to ask for prayers or just to tell me you are having a rough day. It's so hard for mom to be out of commission. I'm not good t asking for help either.
You TOTALLY did this for me when I went through our loss in December! You are GREAT about this already… In fact, I was just thinking to myself this week that i neeeeded to find some way to bless YOU during this time but keep forgetting 🙁 I'm sorry, I so wish I lived closer! Anyhoo, with your large scope of people that you reach and who reach out to you, something simple like a card would be great. I think most people have lost the art of sending "Thank you" cards (um, did i ever do one for your gift to me in december?!?!?!?) but studies have shown that people LOVE a hand written, mail delivered note so much. Anyone can type something quickly on the computer screen, but it takes just a bit more effort to hand write a thoughtful, simple message, address an envelope and put a stamp on it 🙂 Makes people feel loved, for sure!
My best friend is going through a really rough time and you have no idea how much I needed to read this post!