Helping Someone Feel Better

 

There is strength in empty. Not the kind of strength we wish for. We want polished strength, the kind that wears a cape and leaps tall buildings with a single bound. I couldn’t leap or fly or save anyone from catastrophe. In fact, I could barely show up. But I did. Show up. And that ended up being a strength all of its own. Ministry—of the truest kind—isn’t about impressing strangers with spotless presentations and a flawless life. It’s about exposing the hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same.” –Michele Cushatt, Undone

Order Michele’s fabulous memoir, Undone.
Helping Someone Feel Better

I can’t stop thinking about that six letter word, better.

Just this morning I watched an interview on my favorite morning show, Sunday Morning on CBS, with Gabbie Giffords. When asked how she was doing, her simple reply, “Better.”

All I could do was smile.

This past week, while wrapping up business in the checkout line of my favorite grocery store, I felt an arm slip around my waist. Quickly, I turned my head, and there stood the adorable Rosie. Because of my constant presence in said grocery store, I’ve become fast friends with many of the employees. I like to pretend I’m European, so I visit the “market” almost daily sometimes. Karen in Deli calmed my very anxious momma heart the day before Brooke’s brain surgery (December 2010) by coming around the counter and praying for me. Clyde from Deli who now is Asst. Mgr., always asks how I’m doing and gives me a big hug. And without a doubt, if I’m gone for any length of time, several other of my friends there ask me where I’ve been. Rosie being one of them.

Yet Friday when Rosie reached out for a hug, I could tell something was different. Knowing about my recent surgery, she asked how I was doing.

Then, with a pause, she said, “My surgery is the 18th.” She had told me before, as we stood in the greeting card section catching up.

“I have to have knee surgery,” she said.

“Ok. Remind me as it gets closer,” I told her, knowing I was going to be walking through my own recovery and just might forget.

Three Simple Ways to Help Someone Feel Better

I was so glad she reminded me, because I did forget. Let’s be honest…it is hard to remember it all.

“Oh, Rosie,” I said. “That is this Wednesday, right? How are you feeling about that? I’m sensing some anxiety here.”

“Yes, I am very afraid,” she said. “More for the after part than the surgery itself.”

“Well, I really understand that,” I winced. “That is exactly how I felt. It isn’t the surgery part…heck, I love the anesthesia and the drugs, right? It is the fear of the unknown ‘after’ part that scared me, too.”

So, right there, in the middle of an ordinary “market,” I was able to use my own healing journey to help Rosie face hers. We talked. We hugged. We remembered that God is with us.

Today, you might meet someone who needs to feel better about something. At least feel better for a few minutes. I offer three simple little ways to spread some cheer:

  1. Look up and show up. Yes, just show up.  Second Timothy 4:1-3 says it this way, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” Showing up means looking and waking up. Hear me out. I try, note the word try here, to wake up with this prayer on my lips, learned from a wise older (in her nineties) woman in my Bible Study, “Good morning, God. This is the day you have made, let me be glad and rejoice in it.” I added, “Let me have eyes to see and ears to hear today so that I can actually live this day to its fullest capacity. Amen.” In doing so, I look up in order to show up, i.e. be prepared to meet whatever the day brings. Life becomes a living, breathing, God-sized prayer.
  2. Slow down and let go. We have our agendas, don’t we? They are important, don’t get me wrong. Believe me, I’ve run into people who in a span of two minutes who pour out every detail of their lives. There is a time to set boundaries. That isn’t what I’m referring to here. When you meet a Rosie—a genuinely weary, anxious, fearful person who just needs a little listening and love, slow down and let go of that agenda of yours. At that given moment in time, there is nothing more important that Rosie. This is what I loved about Jesus. His ministry seemed to be the person (or people) right in front of him. Read through the gospels and see for yourself: Nicodemus (John 3); The woman at the well (John 4); The lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5); The hungry multitude (John 6); A blind man (John 9); Two grief-stricken sisters (John 11)…and so many more. We have the potential to become a God-sized presence in the lives of those who show up right in front of us.
  3. Hands-on and heartfelt. We can’t help everyone, but we can help the someones in our lives. Helping comes in all shapes and sizes. It might look like a cup of hot soup or a homemade meal (for the entire family). It might be an act of service, like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the floor. It might be as simple as an email or a handwritten note or a bouquet of fresh flowers. It might even look like a bedside chat, either in person or via the phone, where you do nothing but fill the room with a few moments of friendship. Helping doesn’t have to cost a penny. I’ve come to realize that most people just want a God-sized notion that they are in your thoughts. For more, I highly encourage reading this short little piece: Helping Others

Help Us, Help Others

Will you share how someone has helped you? Or, how you’ve helped someone in their time of need? This isn’t about boasting or bragging, but about building a God-sized treasure chest of tools for helping others. I can’t wait to hear!