I'm in this incredibly reflective, peaceful season of life right now. Sometimes I'll just sit and rest in complete thankfulness for what Jesus has brought me through as a wife and a Mama. I know my story isn't over, but I also know - so deeply - that Jesus loves me and will continue to carry my tired feet every step of the way.
Because I feel like He has taught me so much in the last few years, I have a hard time expressing it all in a way that isn't repetitive which is probably why the blog has fallen off the wagon a little the last few months. I have this deep desire to share Jesus and to share our story but I get in my own way.
I'm not typically a list person. The whole idea of writing things down and crossing them off makes me sweat. I'm pretty easy going, I'm not a planner, and I'm not terribly organized but nonetheless, I thought this subject could use some specific, life-speaking, grace-giving bullet points.
We've all been there. You've seen somebody's world crumble and you've thought, "I have no idea what to do." When there's a major tragedy or a huge life change within your circle of people, it's hard to know how to react. It's especially difficult when you haven't walked a similar road. I've been on both sides of those tracks, but I've probably spent more time on the life change side. I've seen the ache in people's hearts as they wrestle through finding the right words.
A few tips from the other side...
What to do when you don't know what to do:
1. Nothing. One of the most valuable things you can do for someone who's world just crumbled is to sit in the mess right along side. Be content to just be there. No words. No nothing. Just be. A simple, "I'm bringing coffee and a hug" or "Can I just come sit with you at the hospital?" is plenty.
2. Pray hard and tell them when you do. I can't tell you how many times I got texts and voicemails from people simply saying they were praying for me at that moment. Simple encouragement can make a huge difference.
3. Avoid cliches and statistics. "I'm so sorry" or "That sucks" is so much more meaningful than "God is in control" or "My best friend's neighbor knows a girl with CF who's 28 and doing fine."
4. Make it specific. Everybody wants to help so the most common phrase is usually, "Let me know if you need anything." While that's commendable, it's also useless. A broad statement like that eliminates nearly any hope of that person actually contacting you. A more effective way to help is having your own plan. Offer to watch babies, bring coffee, give a break, bring a meal. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant, but I remember feeling so overwhelmed with life that I physically couldn't pick up the phone to ask for help - let alone remember who said they could. So keep the ball in your court.
5. Know your people. Personalities vary. I personally love people and welcomed visitors with open arms (and usually a tearful face). I'm totally fine with wearing my heart on my sleeve, but some people aren't. Be there but be respectful of boundaries.
6. Check up. It's so easy to feel like the dust has settled in someone's life when the reality is that it's just beginning to brew. Appearances can be deceiving so check up periodically. A quick text, a sweet voicemail. Again, it doesn't have to be anything earth shattering. Just be there. (I can't stress that enough).
Six seems like an strange number to end on, but there you have it. I know ideas like this circulate social media from time to time but everyone needs a reminder.
Oh and my dear list people,
Don't stress about this checklist. If you're guilty of doing all the wrong things in a tough situation (I know I am), know that there is abundant GRACE. Nobody gets it right and that's okay. Just be there. Be present. Be available. Be Jesus in the flesh and just love.