Thursday, November 29, 2012

"If you need anything let me know..."

"If you need anything let me know"

I think it's the most used and often the least helpful comment someone can make.  Okay, not the least helpful because it's so well intentioned and out of a truly sincere heart, but I'm going to suggest rethinking that one and putting it on the shelf for infrequent usage...

It seems like I've had a lot of friends in my life who have been going through really tough stuff right now and this topic keeps coming up in my mind as I struggle to know what to do.  I'm not saying there is a fool proof answer to saying or doing the right thing all the time or even some of the time because people are different.  The very thing that might be a huge blessing to me might be intrusive and offensive to another, but I've heard it said that's it's not very helpful to offer to "Let them know if I need something."  I've personally sat in a place of despair and wonder if I was at the end of myself yet and needed to call someone?  Or I've been so busy holding it together or doing what I needed to do through a season that I couldn't even tell someone how to help.  I needed so much that I couldn't think straight to pick up the phone and ask for anything.  Then there is my problem.  I like to keep that card for the REALLY bad times like an insurance policy.  I don't plan on using it but I feel safer just having it.  You see, I've had those times when I really couldn't physically or mentally do what I needed, so that is what I save my "If you need anything let me know" card.

Anyway, here are some healthy suggestions for showing you care without the apparent empty platitude...
  • I'd like to bring you dinner this week, which day works best for you?
  • I'm bringing some food on Saturday, anything your family doesn't eat?
  • I was thinking of you this week and made you ________.
  • I was in the store/at a yard sale and saw ______ and had to get it for you.
  • I'm planning to watch your kids for an evening (if you know the person really well.... if not, it could be perceived as creepy), what night could you get away for a few hours?
  • We have date night once a week, what night could you join us? (you may need to be prepared to pay)
  • I'd like to take you out for dinner/coffee, when could you go?
  • We'd love to have your kid(s) over to play for the day (overnight) to give you some time to yourself, what day/night would work?
  • a random "thinking of you" card, note, FB post or message, text, phone call message :)
  • I'm picking up my kids from school, could I get yours too and bring them home?
  • I want your family over for dinner, are there particular nights that work for you?
I think you get the idea, right?  I'd have to admit that I'm not a fan of some of my own suggestions because I may feel trapped into something I don't want, especially,  if I don't know the person real well.  Keep that in mind before offering something so personal as kid watching.  I also might think going to someone's house for dinner as more of a burden to get the family ready and not knowing how my "wild card" would do; but there have been times when I've just wanted a return invitation or to feel pursued in friendship.  People have seemed fearful of us as if Abby was contagious or people often fear what they don't know.  I've had it said that a family would like us over but they hadn't invited us because their house wasn't wheelchair accessible.  They wrongly assumed that wheelchair accessibility was a criteria for us.  Heck, our house isn't wheelchair friendly either.  Well, as you can see it is tricky to love on someone who is struggling; but the more you try the better you get and less awkward you feel each time you do so.  Not to mention how much you may bless someone else (and possibly yourself... although not the intent, I know) in the process.

When the Lord lays someone on your heart, do or say something.  Go out on a limb and risk feeling awkward or saying the wrong thing.  I've been greatly encouraged just by a simple note or a text. Sometimes it's nice just to be noticed.  I often do emails or FB messages as I can correspond when I have the time.  Some don't like this kind of communication, but it is often the only thing that works in my life right now.  I can't always stop what I'm doing for a long period of time to have a coherent conversation on the phone or better yet meet for coffee, but if Abby gets sick (common occurrence) my night may have just opened up as I'll have to sit with her for the evening to catch vomit and calm her back to sleep.  While she's sleeping I may have several minutes or even an hour to correspond online.  If I need to talk on the phone uninterrupted, I have to put Abby in her room and that only buys me enough time to do the necessities.  For instance, I'm blogging in between instruction times as I do home school with the two girls.  It's a light instruction day, but a heavy work day which means I need to stay put and keep Belle on task :)  I have from 2pm-3pm each day for returning phone calls as I go to school to pick Abby up, but if you don't catch me during those times, I'm likely to not be available until after bedtime.  Those times are often filled with making appointments, trouble shooting issues or equipment orders as of late.

Look around you this holiday season and see those who may be suffering.  Take particular  notice to those who have a family member with disabilities.  If you are worn out from all the gatherings, you can bet they are barely holding on.  Predictability and schedule are lifelines to most of us who are touched by disability and holidays throw all that out the window.  Chaos often ensues.  Our help to maintain sanity is often on holiday as well with their families (and rightly so), but the lack of relief causes the stress-o-meter to rise as well.  You may have less time to give during this high need time, so at the very least a prayer for peace is often greatly appreciated.  An offer to include the other children in festivities is also a sweet blessings as it's tough enough to have to leave the fun for the parents, but it doubly stinks to always have to leave early because of a crazy sibling.

Our families are not the only ones that often take a hit during the holidays, I know.  We might even be having a great holiday as Thanksgiving was awesome for us!  Abby stayed home and played for two days.  She never even went to the door.  She napped on my lap and played with her toys and books!  She was a delight for the most part.  She didn't even leave when people arrived at our house.  She stayed and interacted quite beautifully most of the time. I'm just saying to SEE those around you.  Those who have recently lost a family member or have a parent deployed or incarcerated are also some to think of blessing this Christmas.  I'm sure there are many more, so if your heart is heavy with someone on it then act.  You can assume it's probably not Satan bringing them to mind for you to bless them :)

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