Often the first words that come out of our mouths when we learn that a friend or their spouse or their child has become critically ill or injured is to say, "Let me know if (how) I can help." It sounds like a nice thing to say and don't get me wrong, it is. While sometimes it is simply "good manners" to say something polite-sounding before we walk away, I think that other times we genuinely do desire to help so we say something generic... all inclusive. What we do not realize is that we have just placed another burden upon the shoulders of someone who is emotionally in turmoil. Chances are, the person will say, "I will" and you will never hear from them again. Why? Because they simply do not have the time or energy to think about how you can help them. Truthfully, that is not their top priority. They have "bigger fish to fry".
This past week I was reminded of the importance of stepping up and being specific when you want to help. If you do not know exactly what the person needs, here are a few suggestions:
1. Give them a VISA gift card. If you are acquainted with other friends of theirs who would like to help, you can pool your resources together. We have done this in small groups at my church and I think it is a nice idea for members of a Sunday School class or an entire church, co-workers, etc. Why a gift card instead of cash? Well, one reason is because if you hand them cash they will think of it more as pity, feel bad, not want to take your money and shove it back at you. A gift card seems to have a different type of feel about it. Someone had to take the time to go out and purchase it making it feel more like a gift than an impulse that might be motivated by pity. Another reason is that they do not have to wander around carrying a lot of cash. They can simply slip it into their billfold and use it when necessary. Slip it into a card and simply let them know that you want to bless them.
2. If they have children, offer to babysit, check on the kids, etc. My dad had to be hospitalized a lot when I was young and even into my teens. The children need a break from the situation and the parent needs a break from the children. Knowing that their children are being cared for, having some fun and so forth means a great deal to the parents.
3. Offer to do yard work. Unless they live in an apartment or an association (like me), there is grass that needs to be cut and perhaps watered. A garden may need to be cared for, leaves may need to be racked or the steps, sidewarlk and driveway need to be shoveled. Someone needs to do these things and they certainly do not have time to do it.
4. Volunteer to bring meals, particularly if they have some family that has come from out of town. If you want to do more, offer to coordinate meals. Nowadays, there are even websites where you can easily do this. You set up the page and email the link to their friends who go online and sign up. We did this a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who had been diagnosed with cancer and had surgery.
5. Offer to be their chauffeur. This is something we often do not think of but truthfully, this is not the best time for someone to be driving. They may insist they are fine but then again, they might really appreciate the offer. That leads directly into something else. Take time to visit, even if the patient is not aware of your presence. While some people may prefer to be left alone, in most cases, people find comfort when there is a friend sitting by their side. They want to talk about their loved one and even about what is happening. They want someone to listen to their fears and they want a shoulder to cry on. If you do this, listen more, talk less and always be ready to hug a lot. Once again, you have to know the person (because some people do not like this) but most people find the slightest human touch very comforting when they are hurting. A touch on the shoulder, a touch on the hand can mean as much as a big hug.
These are just a few suggestions but I think you get the idea. If you are at a complete loss of what to do, ask God. He knows what they need when they need it and He will help you be able to bless and minister to them.
P.S. Here is a good way to disarm those people who protest, "You don't have to do that!" Simply look them straight in the eye and sadly say, "I really want to bless you. Please. Let me bless you." I remember when someone did that to me once and that was the end of my protests.
I read comments of a blog being "spiritual" I suppose because the Holy Spirit is mentioned a lot, has a "Word" like feel, or strings together the "right" words (whatever that means). This writing "preaches louder" than most any I've read. You've lived the love of God by His Spirit in small and large ways - showing Christ.
K. you go "above and beyond" the call; thank you for being truly loving/spiritual.