This week, I had a young woman contact me who was on the verge of homelessness. She was desperately calling every agency in town to find any available resources to keep her and her children (ages 4, 3 and 1) from living in their van beginning that night. There was some relief, albeit temporary, as different people heard her story and offered to help. I tangibly felt the power of “we,” when a friend of mine showed up, not only to help financially, but went to buy milk, and carried the one year old up two flights of stairs.
Last week I had a volunteer at Laundry Love tell me that he wasn’t too good at communicating with others in settings like that. He said he was better with construction and working with his hands. I understood what he was saying but clearly he underestimated his presence there. That same man stayed two-thirds of the evening, serving pizza with a smile and encouraging greeting for everyone he came in contact with. I also saw him holding an almost one year old boy and singing “Jesus Loves Me” to him. When it came time for that little one and his mom to walk home, he asked me if he could give them a ride. Mama had walked with her baby and their laundry in a shopping cart. I assured him that it was fine, if it was ok with the mother. Needless to say, she happily accepted the ride. Love in action most clearly demonstrates the power of “we.”
Sometimes I think we undervalue the act of lending our presence and our time, indeed, our very life’s strength, to be with someone else. There is power in sitting in silence, or lending a listening ear; of holding a hand, of weeping with one another and rejoicing with one another. We hear a lot about being “present” in any given particular moment. It truly is a gift.
Recently, my sister visited from California. I’m a little embarrassed at how little we “did” that seemed special. But I am also thankful for how she quietly comes alongside to love and support me in my sometimes complicated life. She sat with my daughter for pictures in a nearby Swedish town, with my granddaughter on the front porch looking for fireflies, with me in a courtroom, and with my friends as they visited. She is quiet and unassuming but communicates love and acceptance in a powerful way.
About 7 years ago, our family went through a crisis. It did not make the prayer chain, or the newspapers, but it ravaged our lives and left permanent damage. It is easy to let an experience like that isolate us. To this day, very few people even know it happened. However, there was one couple who came over and cried with us and prayed with us. She explained that of the few people who knew about the situation, not one person knew what to say or do. That’s why they were there. To let us know we were not alone. They had no answers or solutions, but it didn’t matter. That is one of the many times I learned from that particular friend, the power of “we.” It can be as simple as showing up.
My friend is no longer with us. Her absence has left a huge void in my life and in many other people’s lives because she understood the power of truly being there for somebody. I am grateful for the strength she lent to me and all that I learned from her about loving people.
I am reminded of how the disciples lamented when Jesus said he would no longer be with them. He reassured them by telling them that He would send His spirit to be with them. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, who daily comes alongside to lead, guide, comfort and encourage me.
Do you know of someone who is walking through the death of a loved one, a divorce, the arrest or addiction of a loved one? Is there someone in your circle suffering a financial or health crisis? A private crisis? You may have kept your distance because you have no words, no solutions, nothing that can “fix” their situation. I’d like to encourage you today to dare to draw near. By showing up, you are not going to remind them of something they are not thinking of. They are ever mindful of the hurt or the loss. The only thing that may help in the moment, is knowing you are there for them; that they are not alone. I encourage you to make the phone call. Spend the time.
Abundance is… showing up for one another.
Learning More About Lending My Presence with You,