we all do actually.
I heard on the radio recently that there are three kinds of people. People who are going through hard time, people who have just come out of a hard time, and people who are headed into a hard time. Now more than ever before I feel connected to humanity through suffering. Before this year I knew about rough patches, dry seasons, and sadness... but never had I known first hand how the heart can hurt.
I do believe that the people who are not currently the ones who are suffering have a big responsibilty to care for those who are.
Even though of course I wish I could rewrite the story of this past year I do appreciate that I feel more connected to humanity now more than ever.
In Maya Angelou's words:
"Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike."
So many times people have asked what they could do to help us and I have continually said whatever is on your heart. We had so many people bring meals, healthy snacks, bags of groceries, babysitters, financial gifts, housecleaners, prayer warriors, listening ears, comforting shoulders, sustained hugs. If you feel like you are "in a good place." If you feel happy with your life... pour into those around you who are not.
I have only recently opened my eyes to how I was not there for my sister when she was going through chemotherapy. I couldn't see past my own struggles of the time to imagine how I could be of help to her, specifically when she was not asking for help. Here's the deal. Most people DON'T ASK, whether they realize it or not they are begging internally. Perhaps they don't ask because they are too prideful. You know it's true. We all have pride. We don't want to break down and let people see us at our most vulnerable. Perhaps they don't feel worthy enough. Like they have always had to be the one helping someone else and don't know what it is like to even be on the recieving end. Fortunately in my case, I like telling people I need help. I blame it on being the youngest in my family and marrying the oldest in his family. I have spent a lot of years being babied and expecting people to help me. Thankfully my children have stripped me of a lot of my selfishness so I know how to work for others 24/7.
The best way to know how to help someone is to just imagine it was you. In what ways do you feel loved? In what ways do you become easily overwhelmed? Those are the ways that you can show your support and care for someone in need.
I personally love handwritten notes. I have ever since I could write. Too many people have told me they were thinking about me during particular times only they didn't come to tell me until after the fact.. you should tell them right then. send a note in the mail, leave them a long loving voicemail. Scripture, poems, tips that have helped you through a similar struggle. It is wrong to keep quiet.
Just like with babies, there is no such thing as being spoiled with too much love. Wouldn't it be better to not have enough room in the deep freeze for all the meals, to have to ask visitors to come back, catch up on the texts of encouragement at the end of the day, versus struggling to get dinner made at a decent hour, have no one at your door to hug you, no one sending you messages of love. In this case it ISN'T the thought that counts. When something difficult happens to someone in your life regardless of how close you are to them or how well you know the details you should do something.
I often have topics on my heart that I stir around for weeks before hashing it all out on here but I felt the need to finally publish this because roles have been reversed. I was just starting to feel the Light shining from within again. Feeling like I have had a reason to sing a song while shopping, or run up the stairs, skip around with the kids. That feeling like I can say I am happy without a tag on the end like "except for...".
The day of the tragedy in Newtown I came to the realization that if that had been me I wouldn't want people to get angry and talk about the sick people in the world or immediately talk about politics I would want people to cry. Weep with me, I would say. Don't say this could have happened to anyone so we are lucky it wasn't us. whew, close one. I can't imagine. No, don't hug your kids extra tight because you slipped through the clutches of this horror. Hug them because I can't hug mine, I'd say.
You know, it is truly the difference between sympathy and empathy. Raise your hand if you like sympathy? Oh poor you, you have cancer. Bummer, your dog just died. That sucks you can't get pregnant.
hmmm seems to me that sentiment almost provokes a slap.
Here is another tidbit, when you tell someone to their face that you appreciate something about your life more because of their suffering, it hurts. So don't do that. By all means think it if you wish. But telling me that you appreciate your baby and the things they can do because my son has not done them yet is inappropriate. It would be like walking up to a parapalegic and saying I am so thankful I can walk. This probably sounds like something you wouldn't do but it slips out much more often than you think.
You know when Jesus said it is better to give than to recieve? It actually feels better. I would rather have so much breastmilk that I had to give it away than have to be the one receiving hundreds of feedings worth of liquid gold. It's humbling. What do you say for something so priceless... thanks?
There are times in our lives when we can't see beyond the walls of our own home, beyond our own sorrows. And I think that is appropriate. It is too much to take on the cares of the world. But when the tables turn, grab the opportunity to be generous in spirit. In gifts of love and time.
I have a new friend who has lost a precious little love this week. I have decided the best thing I can do for her is to write her letter. A letter filled with ideas of how to still take care of herself. A letter reminding her that she will be happy again. That good times are still ahead. " I don't know what to say" as so many of us don't when something tragic happens. But I am going to try. I am going to tell her what I wish someone had told me. Even though our pain is different. I don't claim to know what it feels like to lose a child. But I know loss. And I know that any kind of suffering is suffering. If only the people who have been hurt the exact same way could help each other we would all be very lonely.
So please if you are hurting, ask for help. Tell people what to do. Value yourself.
If you are loving life, help someone. Don't wait till they ask. Just decide how you want to be a blessing. That is why you are in the loving life place right now.
After all "you will reap, what you sow."