“What do you need? What can we do for you? How can I help?”
Those questions overwhelm both the person asking them and the person answering them. Of course, if you’re the asker, you want to help out your friend who is going through a difficult season. But when you’re fielding the question, the only thing that comes to your mind is, “Sleep. I need sleep.”
Lately in life, I’ve been on the receiving end of “How can I help?” I’m in survival mode. And even though I do need help, I hate asking for it and never know how to verbalize my needs. Thankfully, some of my amazing friends taught me how to tangibly love the people in my life who needs help. They helped me in huge ways. And these are 5 things I observed them doing for me.
1. Just Do It
“Just Do It” is way more than a catchy Nike slogan. Very few people are ever going to tell you exactly what they need. Frustrating? Yes. But it feels so bossy to say, “I’d like dinner for 2 on Thursday night, and my grass will need to be mowed on Saturday.”
So show up anyway. One of my friends organized a mass effort of this recently. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back I received texts that said, “Check your porch. I dropped off muffins!” and “I made you enchiladas. They can stay in the freezer until you’re ready to pop them in the oven and eat them,” and “My freezer is overstocked with homemade waffles, so I’m bringing you a bag, and you can’t say, ‘No,'” and “I’m grabbing us some pizza and ice cream and will be there in an hour.”
I know this can feel pushy and intrusive. But even if you don’t know someone well, you can still find ways to go from asking “What can I do?” to “I’m doing something.” Try one of these:
- “I’m running to the grocery store for myself and wanted to grab you a few things. Any specific requests? Fresh fruit? A rotisserie chicken?”
- “On Wednesday, I’ll be near your house. If you want to leave a key under the mat, I’ll take your dog for a walk.”
- “I want to help you, but I don’t know how, so I just Venmoed you some money. Use it for food delivery when you don’t feel like cooking or for whatever else you and your family needs.”
2. Get Creative
Some of my favorite gifts have been the ones I didn’t see coming. After a long hospital stay, my co-workers went in on a massage for me. My boss even gave me the gift of a pedicure before (from a professional. He didn’t do it.) One of my friends got me a stuffed toy specifically meant to help me get my frustrations out by slamming it against a wall. I’ve received so many gifts, and not all of them necessarily served a specific “purpose,” but they all made me smile.
Even if you’re not the cooking or grocery shopping type, you can still help your friends in huge ways. Sometimes providing humor is just as important as food and other necessities.
3. Keep Texting
I’ve had to say, “No,” to a lot of things when we’re in the middle of hard times, but it still feels awesome to be invited.
Even if you KNOW your hurting friend can’t join you for girls night, or won’t be able to see a movie this Friday, or keeps cancelling your playdates, keep inviting them. As much as I hate saying, “No,” it’s much more painful when the invites stop coming.
Additionally, keep texting your hurting friend just to text them. They may not always answer, but I promise they will see and appreciate every single encouraging message or funny .gif that you send. It may be exactly what they need in a hard moment, even if they’re too underwater to reply right away.
4. Be Uncomfortable
If you haven’t checked out Kelly’s post on what to SAY to someone who is hurting, I highly recommend giving it a read. It’s much-needed advice on how to verbally comfort someone.
I love her post because so often, we get stuck in trite our expressions, and they don’t actually help anyone. We feel like it’s our job to make others feel better.
But it’s not.
I’m going to say it again because I think it’s that important, “It is not our job to “fix” our hurting friends.” Our job is to listen to them, to cry with them, and to love on them. Sometimes, that comes at the cost of our own comfort. Even though it can get uncomfortable, resolve to be ok with that. Your simple act of being there will make their heavy burden feel a little lighter.Click To Tweet
Make praying for your friend a part of your routine, and let them know you’re praying for them. It truly touches me when people tell me: “We pray for you every single night” or “My 4-year-old just asked if we could pray for you. So, we did.”
Don’t be afraid to be specific either: “We’re constantly praying for answers for you, but today, we also prayed that you could get some good rest tonight.”
I realize “just praying” can feel like you’re “not doing anything.” But sometimes, there is nothing you physically can do. When you feel helpless, take your helplessness and turn it into a prayer for God to help your friend.