I hung up the phone and hung my head between my shoulders. I stumbled my way through the kitchen sobbing uncontrollably. My daughter came up to me and embraced me in a hug. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
My father had just called to tell me that my beloved grandmother had died. This was a women that I spent many, many weekends with when I was growing up. She lived on a farm and I have many happy memories of being with her there.
I released my daughter from the hug and trudged along to tell my husband the bad news. I walked past my daughter’s 18 year old boyfriend, who was sitting on the couch. He looked up into my puffy, red eyes and spoke four powerful words that scream, “I love you.”
“How can I help?”
There wasn’t anything that he could do to help, really, other than pray, but those powerful words were a balm to my heart. They screamed that he cared, he loved us, that he grieved with us, and that he was ready and willing to DO SOMETHING to show it.
How can we learn from his wise and courageous words?
Many times when we encounter people that are combating chronic illness, struggling financially, dealing with grief, or facing another battle, we honestly don’t know what to say that can help. We want to offer encouragement and help and hope but we just don’t know how. So we offer a common platitude:
“Let me know if you need anything.”
I’ve said it countless times. I wanted to offer my support and encouragement but I really don’t know what to do or say. I don’t know how to help, so I ask them to let me know if I could do anything.
Do you think they will? Surrounded by countless people that say, “Let me know if you need anything,” most people don’t take them up on their offer. It would take too much effort to swallow their pride, pick up the phone, and call someone in order to inconvenience them by asking for help.
What if we turned this around? What if instead of being passive, and putting the burden of asking on the struggling friend, we were proactive and put the burden of asking on us?
These are four powerful words that scream “I love you.”
How can I help?
What can I do?
Do you need anything?
These words say that I am here, ready to serve, willing to help, just waiting for you to tell me what to do. They don’t say “call me later if you think of anything and if it’s not inconvenient at the time I will be glad to help.”
These words say, “Right now, your needs are number one on my agenda. I’m willing to lay down my schedule, my time, and my needs in order to make your needs my number one priority.”
One approach is passive, putting the burden of asking on others. The other is proactive, putting the burden of asking on us. Can you see the difference?
In saying “I’m here if you need anything” we can quickly go back into our own worlds and slowly forget about our struggling, sick, or grieving friend. But in offering help, right here and right now, we are willing to stay in the hard situation with them.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NIV
To be continued….Part 2 is here…