I read the book, Just Show Up, a few months back. It is funny, touching and very practical. Last Christmas I read The Hardest Peace that is written by the same author as Just show up, Kara Tippets. She died in March 2015 from cancer. Her words are still relevant and the blog she started is still an encouragement to me. There are other people who write for the blog now, but they repost many of the articles Kara wrote as she went through treatments.
The challenge I see from both the books and the blog are to make each day count.
Just show up is a challenge to reach out and offer help, encouragement and friendship to those in trials. It gives practical advice such as, don’t just offer to help “anyway” but to actually give a suggestion for help. She recommends you to say “Hey, I’m bringing you a meal, is Tuesday okay?” Someone in a hard place, who is suffering or in illness doesn’t need more decisions to make such as how to accept offers of help.
Another challenge is to actually accept help. We’re proud people. We don’t like to admit we’re struggling or that we can’t “do it all.” Illness and suffering doesn’t care about who is strong and who isn’t. It touches everyone. No one is above it, and no one should try to “do it all.”
We also find it hard to ask for help. We think that to ask is to admit defeat. We fear that if we acknowledge the need that somehow we weren’t good enough to do the task or job or responsibility.
It’s hard to know if your attempt at help is welcome or wanted. It’s hard to know if you’re actually helping or making things worse. Don’t take it personally if your offer is refused, but also don’t stop trying to help. There are so many creative ways people can encourage others. Sending an email, a private message or a text can mean the world to someone who doesn’t have the energy to chat on the phone or receive visitors.
New mothers, people recovering from surgery and elderly people in nursing homes feel isolated and often discouraged. It’s hard to admit that life has changed. Transitions are hard. Do what you can to help with the hard.
You can help by dropping off food or non-perishables, offering to make a run for groceries, picking up kids after school or taking them to school and so many other small tasks. Dusting, cleaning bathrooms, running vacuum cleaners and making freezer meals are generous and loving tasks. Try to think of the things that are difficult for the suffering person to manage, especially with juggling cancer or other medical treatments or appointments.
There is so much suffering. Many in our circles are struggling with health and wellness. Many are struggling with decisions or financial needs. Many are suffering in other ways. Are we making a difference, even by letting them know we’re praying?
When we live far away, it’s hard to know what to do, but sending a message is always an encouragement. You can also prepare a care package to remind the person of God’s and your love.
We are meant to be relational people. God created us to connect and have meaningful conversations and interactions with people. Don’t let fear that they don’t want you, or that you’d be in the way stop you. Keep offering and keep connecting. It can mean the world to those in pain.
What are simple tasks that can make a big impact and encourage your friend? What is your “go-to” way of showing love to others in hard places? Do you take a meal or give a service? Don’t make excuses. Reach out. You don’t want to someday regret not reaching out.