I say the “anything-I-can-do-to-help” sentence a lot.
And the more I read, the more the Holy Spirit convicts.
I have said that very sentence for years, thinking that it was a good thing to say when someone was hurting or struggling or challenged in some sort. But again, the more I read, the more the Holy Spirit is opening my heart and my mind to the fact that it is not a genuine offer at all.
I say it when I don’t know what else to say.
I hope those who actually know me know, that if there is anything, anything at all, that I could do to help, I would. In a heartbeat. Without hesitation. Mostly without question. At just about any cost. My parents instilled that inside of me, with the guidance and help from God and genuine hearts of gold, molded by God.
I will drop everything to help. I am Super Girl when it comes to any question beginning with, “Would you mind helping with…?” And if I can’t help because of (insert your choice of anything here), I will take on a tugboat load of guilt for having to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t this time.”
But, I’m going out on a limb here, and I bet I am not alone on that limb.
Sometimes, and I am airing some dirty laundry here, sometimes I say the anything-I-can-do-to-help sentence, because it’s easy and I am fairly certain of the response, “Okay, I will let you know,” knowing that the person will never let me know, and I will be off the hook after having “offered” so graciously. Not so fast, gracious.
Not a genuine offer at all.
The Holy Spirit has really been tapping me, nudging me, and hammering me on the head about this recently.
When someone is hurting or struggling or in the middle of a real challenge, the last thing they are thinking is, “What could Rhonda do to help me?”
Last week, in my Bob Goff Love Does calendar that Aunt Patsy and Uncle Charlie gave to us, one day’s message was simple simpleton. But it was profound. And of course I cannot quote it word-for-word, but I know the message:
A friend doesn’t have to ask. A friend does.
Joyce, my former co-worker and forever friend, taught me this lesson a couple of years ago. She talked about this TWO YEARS AGO, this very simple lesson, and I haven’t forgotten it but I also haven’t exactly implemented it into my routine. Don’t ask someone what needs to be done – just look around and do it without asking. They will appreciate not having to come up with something to appease their well-meaning friend. And they will appreciate the job much more than the card or the standard, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” There might be all kinds of things that need to be done, but rare is it when someone feels comfortable enough to say, “Um, yah, I have piles of laundry and a sink full of dishes and the lawn hasn’t been mowed in weeks, but I am too stressed/upset/exhausted/depressed…”
I need to do better. I need to listen to the tapping, nudging, hammering. I need to open my eyes and just start doing for others instead of putting the burden on them to come up with something for me to do that will make ME feel better about helping them and make them feel even more burdened to have to deal with all of the things they really don’t want to deal with.
Sam doesn’t ask what he can do to help me – he just starts doing.
My niece Rachel and her mom ask what they can do to help me, but then they just start helping.
Yesterday, Sara just started doing dishes. Didn’t ask. Just did.
My boss doesn’t ask what she can do to help me – she just calls on her way.
A friend doesn’t ask if it’s a good time – she just shows up and starts looking for things to do, making sure I understand she isn’t here to visit and coddle, she’s here to work.
And the funny thing is, they don’t make a big deal about it. They don’t hold it out there and post it all over social media, all look what I did – they help because they want to help. Mom used to say that if we look for recognition here on earth and are acknowledged for our “good deeds” here, we negate or diminish the reward in Heaven.
If I look for recognition and thanks as an end to my good will, how good is my deed, really? Not very genuine. And certainly not very gracious.
When words don’t flow so freely in difficult situations, just look around and do, Rhonda. Not for thanks or recognition, but for the satisfaction that God leads and directs and calls you to serve others with humility. THAT’s a genuine offer. And when you cannot genuinely offer, then DON’T.
Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.
– Luke 6:31
Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all
in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
– Colossians 3:17
I am grateful for repeated lessons.
I am grateful for living examples, both good and bad.
I am grateful for conviction that leads to repentance.
I am grateful when I am ASKED to help, because that is so much easier.
But I am grateful for the reminder to open my eyes and DO instead of waiting to be asked.
I am grateful for the freedom from guilt.
And I am grateful for grace unending because I am not perfect and will fail, but each step I take, will lead me closer home.
Oh, and I am grateful for Easter and flowers and The Hallelujah Chorus and gardens and the message yesterday and tears flowing and a home filled with friends who have become our family and my Dad and my husband who loves me and tells me and family reunions and a cousin and aunt who go above and beyond to care for others and for a friend who took care of Natia while we were gone and for Friday out of office and clean gutters and laughter loud and free and bunny bread and doctors who are God’s healers and pretty new dresses and clean hands and no drama and for the privilege and pure joy of talking to one of my girls and her children yesterday on the phone on this grandest of days.