Helping others

The Day After Easter..a walk across a parking lot

I am not a blogger. It’s been a long time since I publicaly processed something. But I am feeling the need…so here it is!

Today is the day after Easter, the day after being reminded of the transforming, resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ, the day after being convicted of loving as He first loved me.

Today, I am out running errands, quickly, as is my style.  As I crossed the Eden Prairie, Cub parking lot, I heard screaming and quickly came upon a family in melt-down mode. The mother, screaming out of control at her 5 year old son and pulling on him . The son, who was hysterically crying was also screaming, “You don’t care about me”.  The father and the other two littles kids stood near by sheepishly doing nothing. A Cub employee hovered as if to supervise in case law enforcement needed to be called as it was looking on the border of abuse. And the crowds stared and gawked and judged. I was part of the crowd.  I went into Cub and got what I was going to get. The whole time, I was in Cub, I was kicking myself…”why did I walk by?, why didn’t I stop and offer a helping hand, or try to de-escalate the situation?”  I remember those times, years ago, of feeling the public shame come over me and my raging child.  If someone would only have stopped to share a word of grace instead of the look of shame. As I checked out, I overheard that Cub employee recounting the whole incident to another employee. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…a terrible out of control mom and a hurting child and we all judge and we talk about it.

As I walked out to my car, I glanced across the parking lot to where the incident had happened and I noticed the vehicle they had been near, it was still there.  I noticed people in the van, and the front passenger door swung open and the Holy Spirit pulled me toward it. No thinking, no questioning..only my feet walking in obedience to the presence of Jesus and then I was there. I found myself standing in front of that mom and that little boy as they sat side by side in the front passenger seat, with their legs hanging outside and their heads hanging  down. The dad was in the driver’s seat, the other kids buckled in the back. It appeared they were attempting to pull it together.

As I approached, I asked permission, “could you guys use a little love and support?”. Fully expecting an answer of “no..mind your own business”, I heard, “yes, that would be nice”.  I just stopped and asked if they were ok and offered my empathy, my understanding, my encouragement. Nothing profound or deeply spiritual.  I didn’t want to be that stranger that walks by and judges and shames.  The resurrection reminds us that we have been freed from shame and sin and judgement and that His Love rules.

Today, a trip to Cub reminds me that Easter matters…even on the Monday after, in the Cub parking lot.

How to help out people in need

I would like to throw out some thoughts stirring in my head and heart this morning based on my years of pastoral care experience walking alongside people in need as well as my own personal experience of being a person in need.  There are times in all of our lives when life is stressful and we need help from others. Whether it is having a baby, recovering from surgery or sickness,  losing a loved one or sitting at the bedside of someone sick or dying,there are many life changes that add stress and emotion.

At these times, it is very much appreciated when friends and loved ones say things like, “let us know if there is ANYTHING that we can do to help out”.  As kind and genuine as those words are, in all honesty, when you are in the midst of one of these seasons of life, you can’t remember who said those things, nor do you have the emotional energy or capacity to actually contact them to take them up on their offers.  It is not because we don’t NEED your help, it’s because it is too hard to ask for it so we just don’t.

Let me offer a suggestion as to the best way to walk alongside people in need.  Call them, email them or text them and tell them something like this: ” I have some free time on Monday from 3:00-5:00 and I insist on helping you because I know you need it.  Here are some options of things I can help you out with:  Moving the lawn, weeding your garden,  scrubbing your floors, bringing over a meal, running errands for you, watching your kids for you so you can nap, taking you out for coffee or a walk and letting you talk, sitting at the hospital with you, sitting with your loved on so you can go take a shower. You pick which is most helpful for you right now.”  Just show up and help because when people go through these times…they need it and they don’t always even know what it is they actually need.

Many of you know my husband’s mom is in the dying process. She has been in the hospital for 2 weeks and today is moving to a residential hospice home. It could be days, it could be weeks before her heavenly homecoming.  We are getting drained and overwhelmed and we are not too proud to admit that we, right now, are some of those people in need.  It is SO much  easier to be the one offering help than to be the ones in need of help.  There are times and seasons in each of our lives when we find ourselves on both sides of that equation.  It is my heart’s desire that we glorify God whether we are blessed to hold others up or whether He is allowing us to be the ones being held up.   We have truly experienced being “held” in prayer and love and acts of service. What a gift to be a part of the family of God!