It had been a particularly difficult week, and after a short trip to visit my parents, I was dreading the return to “real life” — a life that I loved but one that currently felt like more than I could handle.
We were trying to get our house on the market — a house we would already be losing money on — and had experienced multiple setbacks. I had been sick, the bitterly cold winter had been relentless, and my daughter was having trouble sleeping. I was tired, emotionally shot, and worried about our finances with the house.
Still, I had to return to my life, difficult or not. But when I turned the key to our front door, what I found surprised me. It was cleaner than I’d left it! I opened a card on the table and discovered why: my friend Katie had cleaned my house, left dinner in the fridge, and stuck notes on surfaces throughout my home — notes that reminded me of my value in Christ and His love for me.
I was overwhelmed. Because I felt — how else can I say it? — I felt taken care of.
There is no other way to articulate why Katie’s actions meant so much to me. She had cleaned my house — the house I felt responsible to clean. She had provided dinner for my family — the meal I felt responsible to cook. And she had reminded me that my value was not found in what I did, but in Christ alone.
As a wife, mom, and teacher, most of my days are spent taking care of others. I rub backs, prepare meals, kiss cheeks, tie shoes, wash dishes, mentor students, write checks, grade papers, and give lectures — along with a hundred other things. I can guess that you do numerous things, too. You may not be grading papers or preparing meals, but you’re probably caring for others somehow. You’re probably taking care of those around you.
I think, as women, we are used to being the nurturers, the ones who take care of others. But how often do we let others take care of us? How often do we ask someone to take care of us?
It can feel foreign and vulnerable to be taken care of by others. When Katie came into my house and cleaned (ah!) my bathroom, she saw things that didn’t want anyone to see. When she put things away, she learned how unorganized I actually am.
But you know what? Katie loved me by taking care of me. If she had asked if she could help, my knee-jerk reaction would have been to say no. I would have assumed that I should have been able to take care of everything on my own.
Instead, my friend loved me by taking care of me before I asked. She did something tangible that relieved stress from my life. And I felt loved and carried — I experienced Christ’s love through Katie that day.
Taking care of each other is one of the sweetest gifts we can give our friends. But often, that might mean taking care of one another before asking permission to do so. I don’t mean that we bulldoze each other, but we might need to be lovingly insistent when we see a friend who needs help.
Yes, take that meal to your friend with the new baby or the sick child — tell her you’ll be dropping it off toight. Your friend who’s struggling emotionally or physically? Tell her you’re picking up her kids this week for a playdate while she naps or prays — she gets to choose the day, but you’re not taking no for an answer. Your friend with the struggling marriage? Offer to keep her kids for the weekend while they get a night away together — and then keep asking her until she nails down a date.
To take care of one another will mean that we move past the cultural responses of being “fine” and “having it all together.” Katie knew I was overwhelmed, and she took care of me through simple, loving actions. We can do the same for our friends — starting today.
Related: Remind a friend her words matter. Give her a place to write her notes, lists, and memories with these beautiful journals that celebrate friendship.