on being a good friend (or person)

Hey guys…today’s blog post might get long and/or rambly, and I apologize in advance. I have so much on my mind right now and I’m afraid the words aren’t going to come out right, so bear with me.
We just recently found out we are moving into a new house here in town- it’s actually just four blocks away from where we are now, and will be even closer to the kids’ school (as in, a block and a half away). I’m so anxious to move into the new house because it’s a huge upgrade from what we are in now. Our current house was a “let’s take whatever we can get” type of situation, and we didn’t have time to look around and find the perfect house. Basically, I’ve been living without a dishwasher for far too long, and I’m so over it. The new house is an old, fixer-upper that’s been completely gutted and updated, and I’m especially looking forward to soaking in my new jetted bath tub! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to actually soak in a tub? Way too long. Right now, I’m lucky if I can get 4 inches of  warmish water in the tub before the puny water heater decides that I’ve had enough. To say that I’m counting down the days until we move is a huge understatement. I want to get out of here so bad!
Along with the upcoming move, my mind has also be preoccupied with thoughts of my sweet and beautiful friend, Stephanie. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen some of my posts this week explaining my absence on the blog. Stephanie is our priest’s daughter, a close family friend, and is also the Godmother of my two girls, Lily and Harper. After experiencing some very odd symptoms over the last few weeks, she ended up in the hospital and had an MRI done, and she was just diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma. When my husband told me to sit down and broke the news to me, I crumpled on the floor in a pile of tears. Why? Why would this happen to her, and why now? It just isn’t fair. You know how when you meet someone and you just instantly click with them? That’s how it is with Stephanie. Part of it may have been that she wanted to steal my baby (I don’t blame her- Harper is really cute), but all joking aside, she and I made fast friends. She’s been amazing with helping me with my own faith and has been a great at answering my questions and helping me to seek out God. I truly feel that if I would not have meant Stephanie when I did, I would be in a completely different place (spiritually) than I am now.
My focus right now is on trying to serve others. Stephanie, her family, her close friends, our church, etc. What can I do to help? After sitting here thinking about it for a while I realized that I need to not just ask– I need to just do. I found this great article on why we should stop saying “how can I help?” and how we should just jump in and actually help. People don’t like asking for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Most people are too afraid, or shy, or maybe even proud to ask for help. For some, it’s a sign of weakness, and maybe they don’t want to seem vulnerable. No one is going to say “You know what, Melissa? I’d love it if you’d make my family dinner because I don’t have time. And also, can you wash this load of laundry and unload the dishwasher? Or run these errands? Or pick up the kids from school?” Etc, etc, etc. Maybe it seems like it’s too much work, and people don’t like to burden others. Even in situations like this, where a family member is hospitalized and fighting for their life, no one wants to ask for help. I get that. It’s hard. It’s something I struggle with too. So instead of saying “how can I help,” I’m going to make it my mission to just jump in and do whatever it is that needs to be done when I see that it needs to be done. Really, that’s what I’d want people to do for me if I needed it. Why do we need to be asked?
Part of the reason I’m on such a mission to serve others is because I feel like there have been so many times in my life where I’ve needed help and never received it. Sure, I have a handful of great friends who mean well, and who, like myself, say things like “let me know if you need anything” or “I’m here to help,” but really, how often do people actually follow through on it? I can think of a dozen times just off the top of my head where I’ve been in a bind or really needed to lean on someone, and there wasn’t anyone there. Like when I had surgery 5 years ago for my back- I had a 2 year old and a 5 year old, yet no one offered me any help. My husband had to sit in the waiting room with our kids while I was having surgery because there was no one to watch them. And then later, when I went home and recovered- Shayne was only able to take 2 days off of work to help me, and then I was on my own. Home alone with 2 small children, completely crippled and doped up on pain meds, unable to pick up my 2 year old, and where was the help? I’m not sure. Even more recently, when I had trouble with some kidney stones just a few months back and had to have a surgical procedure…my poor husband had to do it all with the 3 kids (Harper was only a few months old), and not one single person offered to pick up the kids from school, or stay with Harper so that Shayne could be at the hospital with me. It was a crazy, hectic day of running all over town, dropping the kids off at school, checking me in, running back to the house so Harper could nap, going all the way back up town to be with me when I came out of anesthesia, then picking up my prescription, plus swinging by the school yet again to pick up the kids, and then back home to try to get me settled in bed and figure out what to feed the kids for dinner. Sure, we didn’t ask for help, but it also wasn’t offered, and that really, really hurt. Or even how about when I’ve had a baby? I hear all the time about how much help people have those first few weeks after they’ve had a baby- I’ve never had that kind of help, ever. No one brought my family frozen meals, or offered to take the big kids for a few hours so I could rest with the baby or offered to wash some dishes when they came over to visit us. Seriously, I’m convinced that that type of help after a baby is born is just a myth, because I’ve seriously never had anyone help make the transition from 1 child to 2, or 2 to 3 any easier for me. It especially hurts when the friends around you have that kind of support system and you start to realize you don’t- at all.
I’m not trying to turn this into a big rant, but that’s kind of how it’s coming off. Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m jealous too. It really does hurt though when you feel like people don’t think about you and your needs. Maybe it’s my fault for not asking, but sometimes I feel like when you’re really struggling or going through something- big or small- that people should just be there for you. Whether it’s helping with food or the kids, or menial, stupid tasks that need to be done around the house, or even just simply being there for someone else- just do it. Be there. Lend an ear, or a hand, or a shoulder to cry on. Let the person know you are thinking about them. Think about them- what do they need right now? Can you do something to help? How can you make their life easier? Can you peel yourself away from your own trivial, selfish needs and put someone else above your own needs, even just temporarily? Can you be inconvenienced? You probably can, but maybe you just don’t want to be.
I am far from perfect. I’m not a saint. I’m not the best friend in the entire world, but I do care, and I try to be there when other people need me. If my friend is struggling or needs me, I try to be there, even though I’m extremely busy with my own life and three children. I know how hard it is to do it all on your own, so I always try to step up and do what I can for the people around me. I’m trying to take the bitterness I have right now in my heart and channel it into something positive. My goal now is to be the best friend/helper I can to the people I love around me. I’m going to try my hardest to just jump in and offer up my services wherever I feel they are needed, and I’m not going to wait for someone to ask (or beg) me to do so.
Please keep Stephanie in your thoughts and prayers. Do you have any tips on helping others in their time of needs? I’d love to hear any input, suggestions, and ideas you might have!