I sat on the couch with a heating pad in pain, the kind that didn’t want to go away even with medication. A handful of moms with their preschoolers were coming to my home bright and early the next morning. My house didn’t look inviting and I didn’t feel good enough to host.
Unlike me, I posted about my endometriosis and how I was missing out on time with my family that evening. But I didn’t cancel the play date.
I typically am the friend that wants to help — bring a meal, pick up your kids from camp, grocery run when you have the flu — but I have a very hard time being transparent enough to ask for help. In the past, I’ve mustered the courage to send the text, type the Facebook update or mention over coffee with a friend a tangible need I have and no one responded with active help. So, I stopped asking. I started to assume friends are busy.
“I’ll pray for you” is a wonderful response, but sometimes I need action. I want someone to whip out their invisible cape, stop telling me to call “if” I need anything and fly into action. The kind of action my new friend, Sarah, leapt to.
Sarah saw my update and texted me, checking on me and offering her home instead. I said, “Yes!” I made myself. Everything inside wanted to protect my heart just in case, but I knew I had to start giving my friends — those I barely know and friends of years — the opportunity to serve me like I enjoy doing for others. The typical me would have assumed I could rise at 5 a.m. the next day to clean and organize like a crazy person, readying myself and my home for visitors. But I didn’t. I responded with lots of thank you’s and exclamation points.
I told her I needed her.
The next morning, I didn’t feel like myself, but I knew some time with my daughter’s preschool friends and conversation with their moms would do us good. Ball cap on with a smidgen of makeup, my daughter and I headed to the play date. I was so thankful I could take care of me that morning and simply show up.
We made a pit stop at the coffee shop on the way and my car died in the parking lot.
After her generosity to host, I texted Sarah to let her know we were waiting for AAA and probably wouldn’t make it to her house at all. Instead of, “Call me if you need anything,” Sarah responded with, “Let me come pick up your daughter and she can play here while you take care of your car.” I said “Yes!” again, allowing her to bless me and my daughter, who was much more excited about playing with her friends than sitting in the warm car with me or at the car dealership.
A few hours later, after everyone had gone I arrived with a new car battery installed. Sarah had played mom to my girl, fixed her lunch and even braided her hair. Never once did she make me feel like I had interrupted her plans or how quickly could I please take my child. The only vibe was, “Of course, I’m glad to help.” I was so thankful to have a friend of action, I tried not to cry as I kept thanking her.
It was so simple. She didn’t ask, she did. She didn’t just pray, she acted. She rearranged, reprioritized, and then reenergized me. Of course, I’m motivated to return the favor to her and many others. But I have to admit I was already on that trajectory. What I learned from Sarah was how to say “Yes!” to my friends. To keep asking for help. To invite them into my daily inconveniences and needs.
And to never underestimate what acting instead of asking really does for my friends.