So far, this year has been met with incredible suffering for some friends that I love: a parent’s death, a broken marriage, a cancer diagnosis, a hospitalized family member.
Each day I think, When will the pain end, God? Show Yourself in the midst of all of this. It is difficult for me to point to You right now. Yes, I know that Scripture tells us again and again that God is with us through all the fires and pain, but when you are in it, it is REALLY hard. It is hard to be the sufferer, and it is hard to be the friend.
As I have walked through difficult seasons in my own life and with others, I’ve learned the biggest gift is that of showing up. It isn’t challenging, yet when I look around, it isn’t common. The show-up life is one marked by presence and purpose. It is full of light, comfort, faithfulness, and intention. You don’t have to have it all figured out to show up for someone. You can be in the midst of your own painful season. You can have little financial resources. Your presence is all that matters.
So, here are six ways you can show up for someone:
Bring or send a meal: Food is one of the kindest, most practical gifts you can give someone. I remember when I was terribly sick during my pregnancy with my daughter and a friend showed up at work with dinner for me to take home. When we learned a friend’s husband was in hospice, we sent soup, cookies, and rolls.
Answer your phone: I know it can be tempting to only text, but if a friend is calling, answer the phone. Sometimes, nothing is more comforting than a friend’s voice. Once during a time of deep grief, I called a friend early in the morning. Rather than silencing her phone, she answered. Her voice of reassurance helped me tremendously during that period.
Give of your time: During challenging seasons, the gift of time can be one of the best things you can give to someone. Simply show up. When my husband was traveling for a month, a friend came to my house, folded laundry, helped clean up dinner, and gave my kids baths. It has been four years since she did that, and it remains one of the kindest, most practical ways someone has ever helped me during a hard time. She might not even remember it!
Don’t just ask “What can I do?”: This ties to the one above. Oftentimes when someone is in crisis, it is difficult to identify the ways you need help. Instead, offer to do something specific, such as, “Could I go over and watch your kids for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself or to run errands?”
Send a card: Thanks to email, social media, and text messages, good ol’ fashioned snail mail is less common. But a card can be the perfect way to let someone know that they are remembered and cared for. I keep a few boxes of DaySpring cards on hand and try to send cards to a few people at least once a month.
Check in: One morning, I received a text message from a friend who knew I was going through a hard time. She just wrote, Checking in on you. It took her mere seconds, but the fact that I was remembered helped me feel less alone during that season. Other simple words you can offer might be, You are not alone, I am here for you, I prayed for you this morning, and Just wanted you to know that I love you.
No matter how busy or difficult my own life gets, I try to remember Proverbs 17:17, which says “A friend loves at all times” — all times, not only when times are good or it’s convenient. Let’s be better about showing up for the people God has placed in our lives.
In the comments, share one way someone has shown up for you and loved you well.
Let’s remind one another of the impact of kindness and love.
You don’t have to have it all figured out to show up for someone. Your presence is all that matters. -@JessicaNTurner: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
I will never forget the gift of friends who showed up during my fourth pregnancy when I had sciatica AND an eternal cold. They arrived with casseroles and then folded my cloth diapers, visited me with my unwashed hair, swept my floor. and left a wave of fresh hope behind them.
Thank you for this gentle push to offer the gift of our presence and our practical help to others.
Jessica Turner says
Thank you for sharing your story! I love your words — “A wave of fresh hope”
During a six month period I was not allowed to bend over or pick up anything, 2 friends showed up with their own cleaning supplies & cleaned my house from top to bottom. Such a blessing my husband didn’t have to add those chores to his heavy work load & we didn’t have to spend money we didn’t have to have a clean house. They probably don’t remember doing that but we always will!
Jessica Turner says
What a gift! I think that is so true – we always remember kind acts that others might never think of again.
As a single momma just out of an abusive relationship, finances were/are really tight. I had to spend a lot of time in court, but I was blessed by the women from my church who stepped in to help care for my daughter.
Jessica Turner says
I’m so sorry about your situation and am thankful that women in your community have been helping you.
Texas Aggie Mom says
A few months after my colicky daughter was born, I was at my wits end with her constant crying, and desperately behind on laundry and ironing. I didn’t want someone to iron for me, I wanted to feel like I was still capable of taking care of my family. My neighbor showed up and walked that fussy baby back and forth for three hours while I caught up on the ironing. To this day (over 30 years later) it remains the single greatest kindness anyone has ever shown me. I have tried to be that person for others, knowing how much something so simple can mean. Thank you for these very tangible and easy to implement suggestions!
Jessica Turner says
This just shows that it is often the simplest gestures that make the biggest impact.
thankyou ! I walked thru a hard time in life and my christian friends did nothing. they pulled away..upon asking why they said ” we didn’t know what to do so we did nothing. “.
thankyou for reminding us we are called to be people of love first and foremost.
I encourage others to step up..if it’s abit uncomfortable for you..think how much harder it is for your friend going threw it.
a note..a call ( when u actually have the time ), a meal..a hug ..lets not turn away from doing good .
Jessica Turner says
Thank you for your honesty in this. I have also experienced times when friends did not show up. It is very painful.
Beth Williams says
My pastor did a huge huge favor for me. My dad was care giving for mom who was bedridden. Dad wanted to talk to a pastor so I asked him to call my dad. Long story short pastor drove 20 miles to talk to dad in person. Then he arranged with First Christian & baptized my 83 yr old dad. My parents did not attend church at all at that time. When dad died I had peace knowing he was going to Heaven. When dad died a good friend came over that morning with food for our family. It was just me, hubby & a sister. None the less it was appreciated.
On the flip side I have cooked & gathered food for my in-laws while they deal with Stage III bladder cancer & other health issues. I continue to do that & also take food to my elderly neighbor living alone except for her son’s friend who stays at night to make sure she doesn’t fall. Cooked food for a friend twice before her surgeries. Wanting to make sure she had food to eat while she was preparing for surgery. Trying my best to show God’s light in this dark world.
Jessica Turner says
Thank you for sharing these acts of kindness. So inspiring! I love your heart.
A few months ago when my husband and I decided to end our marriage, there was on particular morning when I was in bed and crying and a friend of mine who knowing my situation had started texting me in the morning had texted that morning and asked how I was what I was doing. I told her, in bed crying, having a hard time. She said, want to have coffee together? She’s many states and many miles away from me but instantly there was a call instead of a text and she was there saying she had just made her cup, what if i would get up and make mine and we could have coffee together and just like that i got myself out of bed and went and made me cup of coffee and we did have coffee together and we talked and i probably cried some more and more coffee and more talking. The thing is I’ll never forget how it felt, just that simple, let’s have coffee together, was like her saying I’m here across all the miles, that I wasn’t alone that she was there to listen and to care about what I was going through. That gesture and her kindness just meant so much to me. She showed-up 🙂
I was sick a few months ago and all I wanted was a curry to eat and flowers. One friend (who lives few hours away) texted another friend (who lives in same city as me) my “wish list”…I ended up with way more than a curry
– roast chicken, snacks, ice-cream, drinks and flowering plant…then they tidied my lawn. Definitely loved on!
My family and I were going through the difficult time of watching my father-in-law suffering with life ending cancer. He did not want the public to know, this made it more difficult for me. I was trying to be strong for my children, husband and mother-in-law and needed someone to lean on. One phone call to a trusted friend and the next thing I know, a private lunch date was created with several of my trusted co-workers who sat and listened to me ramble on. This one lunch date helped me through this difficult time, more than they will ever know.
Tomorrow we meet for our Fall Just Us Girls Neighborhood Coffee Cafe’. My church sponsors this community wide group. 25 – 30 women attend and members host in their homes. We meet 6 times in the fall and 6 times in the spring. We begin with a short devotional and prayer time led by a wonderful lady, 85 years young. We study various topics using a DVD based study. followed by discussion. Last spring we did The Rock, The Road and The Rabbi. This fall we are doing the Tabernacle by Shawn Barnard. I’m sharing about our group in case others want to start one too. There are two ladies new to our church that attend who are dear friends. One of them sent me a text that the other lost her husband on the very day we meet so it will be a difficult day for her. We are showing up for her by presenting her the book, Jesus Calling. We checked with her friend and she doesn’t have this special book. Your article was God’s timing as I am going to share parts of it before giving the book to her to encourage others to SHOW UP too.
Jessica, can you please correct my post before posting if possible? Tomorrow will be our friend’s husband’s birthday, 9/11. He passed away a few years ago while fishing.Thank you, Teresa
sandra r johnson says
When i was a freshman in high school, my dorm was very loud in the weeks leading up to Halloween and i was not able to sleep. One morning i stood up and fell down because the floor seemed to be moving; once outside, the sidewalks seemed to be undulating. Fearful that i was going crazy, i ran to my psych prof’s office and told him what was happening. My sister had a psychotic break her first year of school and i thought that was happening to me. He quickly assessed that only needed to sleep and called his wife to say he was sending me to their house to get some sleep. She was so kind, showed me to a bed in their functional attic and i slept for 16 hours straight without waking up once. Their kids called me the lady in the attic. It was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me and was the beginning of a life long friendship with the family.