Caring When It Really Matters

We frequently read of random acts of kindness, where a person performs a kind deed for a stranger. Someone might pay forward a cup of coffee for the customer behind them or leave a tip for service in a café. These things are lovely, but today I’d like to focus on how we might show kindness to someone going through a difficult time.

Showing up and being there for a friend can be a real support to that person. Truly listening and paying attention is a loving act of kindness and there are other ways we can show it too. It’s okay to ask if there’s anything they’d like done, but my experience in both receiving help and offering it, is that people don’t always know how to reply, so say no. In fact, before I went through tough times, I would say to people, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” I really meant it, but very rarely would I get a call. It’s actually better to offer to do something specific.  You might offer to take their children to school for them or say you’ll bring around dinner on Thursday or something similar.

As you listen, you might notice things that need to be done. Just quietly doing a task can mean such a difference. One gentleman didn’t know what to say to his grieving neighbours, so he just said, “I’m sorry.” However, it was autumn and they had large trees so he just quietly raked up their leaves every few days. You might ask yourself what you’d like done if you were in a similar situation and do it.

If I text or send a note to someone going through a tough time, I will often say “No need to reply.” I just want them to know I care.

Sometimes, we say and do the right things and our friend seems to reject us and our care. Please don’t give up on your friendship. When we experience serious difficulties, our emotions can be all over the place.  Respect your friend’s privacy – if they don’t want to talk okay. Call or come back in a week or two – maybe you can do something then. Many of us struggle to accept help off others – we’d all prefer to be the giver. Gently reminding your friend that sometimes we give help, but at times all of us need to receive help from another, can be helpful.

None of us are exempt from suffering of some sort during our lives. As I read and reviewed a book* years ago, one comment the author (D.A. Carson) made stood out to me. He wrote words that basically said if you haven’t already experienced suffering of some kind, you will one day.

I’d like to summarize the last few articles I’ve written here in Mueller Connect in six words : Show up, be kind and listen.

*” How Long, O Lord?” by D.A. Carson.