I sat on the couch with a heating pad in pain, the kind that didn’t want to go away even with medication. A handful of moms with their preschoolers were coming to my home bright and early the next morning. My house didn’t look inviting and I didn’t feel good enough to host.
Unlike me, I posted about my endometriosis and how I was missing out on time with my family that evening. But I didn’t cancel the play date.
I typically am the friend that wants to help — bring a meal, pick up your kids from camp, grocery run when you have the flu — but I have a very hard time being transparent enough to ask for help. In the past, I’ve mustered the courage to send the text, type the Facebook update or mention over coffee with a friend a tangible need I have and no one responded with active help. So, I stopped asking. I started to assume friends are busy.
“I’ll pray for you” is a wonderful response, but sometimes I need action. I want someone to whip out their invisible cape, stop telling me to call “if” I need anything and fly into action. The kind of action my new friend, Sarah, leapt to.
Sarah saw my update and texted me, checking on me and offering her home instead. I said, “Yes!” I made myself. Everything inside wanted to protect my heart just in case, but I knew I had to start giving my friends — those I barely know and friends of years — the opportunity to serve me like I enjoy doing for others. The typical me would have assumed I could rise at 5 a.m. the next day to clean and organize like a crazy person, readying myself and my home for visitors. But I didn’t. I responded with lots of thank you’s and exclamation points.
I told her I needed her.
The next morning, I didn’t feel like myself, but I knew some time with my daughter’s preschool friends and conversation with their moms would do us good. Ball cap on with a smidgen of makeup, my daughter and I headed to the play date. I was so thankful I could take care of me that morning and simply show up.
We made a pit stop at the coffee shop on the way and my car died in the parking lot.
After her generosity to host, I texted Sarah to let her know we were waiting for AAA and probably wouldn’t make it to her house at all. Instead of, “Call me if you need anything,” Sarah responded with, “Let me come pick up your daughter and she can play here while you take care of your car.” I said “Yes!” again, allowing her to bless me and my daughter, who was much more excited about playing with her friends than sitting in the warm car with me or at the car dealership.
A few hours later, after everyone had gone I arrived with a new car battery installed. Sarah had played mom to my girl, fixed her lunch and even braided her hair. Never once did she make me feel like I had interrupted her plans or how quickly could I please take my child. The only vibe was, “Of course, I’m glad to help.” I was so thankful to have a friend of action, I tried not to cry as I kept thanking her.
It was so simple. She didn’t ask, she did. She didn’t just pray, she acted. She rearranged, reprioritized, and then reenergized me. Of course, I’m motivated to return the favor to her and many others. But I have to admit I was already on that trajectory. What I learned from Sarah was how to say “Yes!” to my friends. To keep asking for help. To invite them into my daily inconveniences and needs.
And to never underestimate what acting instead of asking really does for my friends.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can so relate to your post. I grew up in a family where you didn’t ask anyone for anything. You muddled through the best way you could. I have since learned that self-sufficiency is sometimes a pretty term for pride. I’ve been sidelined for 7 going on 8 weeks now after surgery. I’ve been unable to bear weight on my foot, and am unable to drive. I’m good at being a blob right now and that’s about it….
Some people who have come to my aid haven’t surprised me – that’s just who they are. But, I have been truly blessed by others who have poured out active kindness. Yes, offering to pray is nice and telling someone, “Let me know if there’s something I can do,” is also nice, but it leaves me wondering….can I really call them if I need something? I’ve been humbled by having to call on people for their offer. Can you drive me to the grocery store? Can you pick up a prescription for me? We could really use a meal. (especially after you’re heading into your eighth week). I even called a friend to say, “I’m going stir crazy, could we go get coffee (I’ll pay) but could you pick me up?” I vow to remember this experience and like you said, put on my super cape and pour out ACTIVE kindness to others in the future. Great reminder!
Good morning Bev!
I teach a small ladies Sunday School class, and I’ve grown quite close to some of my ladies. One of them also had foot surgery 7-8 weeks ago. I’ve tried to be diligent to not be a friend who says, “call me if you need anything.” I’ve been more active, cooking for her, offering to do other things as well. I’ve mostly been a passive friend in the past, and I think it’s because I don’t want to intrude where I may not be wanted. I also rarely ask for help. I could definitely use some divine shaping in graciously accepting kindness.
Stephanie, thank you for a great post that reminds me what we should do for each other as friends and as sisters in Christ!
Michele Morin says
As I read your words, it occurred to me that the only way this equation will work is if I am willing to be on the receiving end at some point — which is hard to do! Admitting need and weakness is as important to the growth of a friendship as the giving part.
Thanks for (gently) forcing all the “do-ers” among us to look squarely at our pride and for encouraging us to do better next time.
This post really touched me today. You see I’m in a really tough season the now emotionally and every part of me wants to just keep going and isolate myself but I’ve realised that it’s about saying yes to people who want to help!
I can relate so much! I have a chronic illness and some days are good and other days I can’t move. I always get the I will pray for you! Instead I need the let me come get your son and we will play or I am bringing dinner don’t worry about it tonight.
As I don’t know you all I can say is I will be praying for you lovely and I’ll be praying that people begin being the people you need at the time
Bless you Chelle! Thank you! I will be praying for this season you are in!!
No problem. Thanks. It’s emotionally very exhausting the now but I also know once I get through it then I’ll feel better. It’s just hard the now.
Brianna, I can so relate with the chronicle illnesses , I would love for my houst to be cleaner and dinner taken care of ( I do most if this on my good days and often on the bad ) I am blessed with an amazing husband .
Thoughts and prayers with you all and Chellie, this season too will pass .
Gina Grabenstatter says
Many thoughts and prayers to those suffering daily from exhausting pain. I thank you all so much for sharing. I also have a hard time asking for help but I am wanting to be there for my friends and neighbors and trying to learn how tonask for help. After reading all your words I see how to help and be helped are such beautiful gifts in our life. I am going to continue to work toward all the good that is ours to share ❤
I think it’s wonderful when someone is pro-active in a friendship and I love to jump in and help people when I’m able. This isn’t always possible though. Sometimes you can only be that listening ear or let them know you’ll be praying for them. It’s just impossible to be present and ready to attend to everyone’s needs.
I say this because I’m a people pleaser. I love to do whatever I can to help a friend and in the past if I couldn’t I’d feel guilty. Sometimes I just have too much on my own plate to be there for everyone. With 2 teenagers, one very active in sports and the other special needs, some days or weeks can be all I can handle. I have had to resort to “I’ll pray for you”, which I do. Prayer is powerful. I don’t think we should de-value the power of a praying friend. We can’t always be there for everyone but we can lift that person and their situation up to God.
I do love it when someone is able to be there for me in physical ways but I also know I can’t be bitter about those who can’t.
Kendra Fischl says
Yes, Sharon. What you have written is so true. In some seasons, we are so busy with our own family, that praying is really what can and should be done. A quote I heard last week, ” Prayer is not the least we can do, it is the BEST we can do~” Ann Voscamp
Sometimes after praying, we may be “nudged” to be the active help. Maybe not, though, and to have brought this person to God is truly “actve” too.
I think it all has to be decided with wisdom and discernment….and prayer. Each situation, and chapter of life, is different. I always want my family to be first, and after that I love to help, but also sometimes just need to pray for someone.
What a great article. I have always been a giver. Bringing meals to people who are laid up or in any kind of need brings real joy to my heart. I have always participated in our Hospitality ministry at church. I have always felt that meeting the needs of others has blessed me more than them.
My husband passed away 4 years ago after struggling with lung cancer for less than a year. He was the love of my life and that diagnosis and watching him decline after trying every treatment everywhere that gave us any glimmer of hope to reverse his condition was debilitating emotionally and mentally to both of us. To say I was heartbroken and drained is an understatement.
But, looking back, so many beautiful things came out of that situation. Countless friends came to our home with meals and supplies. Neighbors and friends took care of our lawn, shoveled snow, kept my driveway plowed, close friends of my husband even put in new landscaping for us around the house. And most importantly, weekly, people’s cars lined the street in front of our home while people came to to pray over my husband and me, to encourage us.
Active kindness. Such a blessing to do, AND receive. My husband would get tears in his eyes when he would hear a lawnmower outside or a truck plowing our driveway. He would look out the window and see two or three cars at a time would pull up and people would be stopping to visit or bringing something to help us. They were the hands and feet of Jesus and I will always be thankful and grateful for their support and kindness.
There were people who said to me “let me know if there’s anything I can do”, and in all fairness I have said that to people, too, and like Bev you do wonder if you can really call them…because…I can’t remember one time when I have said that to someone and they have called. I don’t say that anymore. I won’t say that anymore.
Your article reminded me again of the relief I felt when all those people were there for us in our darkest hours. Active kindness…something I saw in action, but, a term I never heard before. We should all make it a priority in our lives.
Diane Hogan says
Wonderful transparent post. I too like to be the giver and doer. however, I am reminded that by allowing others to help, they receive the blessing of our gratitude.
Just as we are blessed by helping others let them too be blessed by helping us!!
Brenda M Russell says
Hallelujah! Stephanie, you made my morning. Thank you for reminding me to speak up and ask for help no matter how long it takes to get help.
I am too shy about dishes in the sink and no snacks or treats in the kitchen to share. I appreciate you!
I need a lot of help with challenges due to rheumatoid arthritis. My daughter helps so much! I want to give her a break.
God will provide. I am encouraged.
God bless you Stephanie for sharing!
It is harder to be on the receiving end than it is to be on the giving end, isn’t it? I, too, am learning that it’s okay to give myself grace enough to say yes to the heartfelt sacrifices of another. We can’t always be the strong one–that’s not authentic. Sometimes we need the humility to let our weak selves show up for others. That authenticity empowers friendship in a way that perhaps nothing else can. — Not sure if this was a recent event, but hope you’re feeling better. ((hug))
Wow , this hits home for me as well !
Great job , Stephanie! As a caregiver and doer myself , I understand how vet hard it is to ask or say ” yes ” to offers . We are so used to doing for others , it often feels like we are weak when we do say ” yes ” or ask for ask , but we shouldn’t . Living with several life altering illnesses , I often have this issue even with family UT am trying to get better at saying ” yes ” to the ones who do want to help at times .
Just an overall great reminder to anyone and also great breakthrough for you as you did get that much needed help in your time of need . I get that , ” call me if you need anything ” from my sisters even and they know I am not the type that just asks . Like yourself , I would rather see action on their part .
Thanks again and have a great day ladies !
This is so true!! This year has been a year of me needing help. I’ve been very sick my dear friend has stepped into action saying how soon can we get you to the dr. I will take you, just like this morning I called her to see if she could take me out of town to a Dr. She of course said yes what time, no hesitation at all. God has blessed me with a very kind, caring friend that I’ve needed since I’ve been sick and separated from my husband.
Pearl Allard says
Stephanie, this hits home. I’m making baby steps in the right direction, but it’s hard to accept help or open up, sometimes. One thing I’ve mostly stopped doing (because it drives me crazy when others tell me this) is saying, “I’ll pray for you.” I offer to pray with them right then and do it. Or if it’s online, I’ll write out a brief prayer or say “just prayed” after I prayed. In that sense, I think prayer can fall into the action category for the times when we’re constrained from doing more. Thank you so much for this post!
Thanks so much! I SO feel you! With my chronic illness I could use help greatly. But as chronic illnesses are so hidden and so lingering people don’t know what to do with it. The help has greatly faded out. Offers for help but with their idea of help not with being open to what I really needed along with me being very giving and feeling selfish for asking and also with everyone’s busy schedules makes it challenging to know how/when to ask for help. I accept help but I rarely ask. This came so close home. Thanks again!
Rebecca L Jones says
Balance is the key word here. Me? I look for people houses they can afford, shop internet deals, check on people week after week. I can sort of over do, which really is what Jesus did. So I have to sit back and let someone else do for me sometimes, and that is hard. I probably do need to get up at 5 to clean house, I really just have to stay up late.
This actually convicted me on both ends. I dont ask for help and I say the words but normally I dont like to be bothered. If someone ask me for help, I am there. I dont have any friends and I leave right after church so that I dont really have to speak to anyone. I hate crowds and like to speak to people one on one but the conversation has to have substance. I am working on my selfishness. It’s really hard for me. Keep me in your prayers.
Beth Williams says
I am the “super woman in cape”. A lot of times I just do things for people without asking. A few years ago I called a friend to see how she was doing-at the time we both were dealing with aging parents’ health issues. She said she was in ER with both parents. That same weekend my neighbor called frantic saying that her son had died. My hubby & I went to KFC & got food for our neighbors. I also got 2 meals for my friend & hubby. We delivered those meals just as she was arriving home.
Fast forward a few years. I called that same friend & told her my dad had died & company was coming. That very day she brought us chicken, bread & some donuts. We don’t ask each other we just do. I was grateful I didn’t have to cook that night.