I made a couple of meals for other families this week. One with a new baby and one that just had surgery. Although super awesome and helpful, this is not groundbreaking. People (especially in the church) do this often- bring meals to bless people who are in a challenging season. And I have done it countless times.
But this time it seemed especially significant. We have been on the receiving end of hundreds of meals (and unending generosity) and as I cooked for these families this week, I realized that after what felt like forever, I am no longer in survival mode. I am entering a place where I have the time to actually do things for others and it’s refreshing.
The past five years of my life have been bananas. And not nearly as cheerful as that sounds. When life is hard it can feel impossible to think outside of yourself. The mental energy it takes to just survive the days is all you have. The courage it requires is exhausting. That’s why it’s such a gift when those beloved people step in and bring you flowers, clean your kitchen, watch your kids and bring you a meal in disposable containers.
But what if your hard goes on far longer than seems acceptable? It’s easy to assume that the kindness and generosity of others will dry up. And sometimes it does. But if there is truly a need there, the best communities will continue to show up for the long haul. I have seen and participated in the beauty of bringing meals every week to one family for over two years and I can’t imagine them facing those grueling years without that support.
Years ago at a women’s retreat, I distinctly remember sharing that I was tired of being the one in need. It was about a year after my mom died and I was a wreck most of the time. The 13 years prior had been a rollercoaster of sickness and health (mostly sickness) for my mom and while our family had been carried so well by our loved ones, I was just tired of it. I was weary of hearing my own story and frankly just worn out from always being on the receiving end. People encouraged me, told me they weren’t tired of my story and assured me that a time would come when I would be the one helping.
Eventually, some peace and normalcy returned and I found myself available and inspired to be the one to listen and step in both practically and emotionally for others. Something that I just didn’t have the capacity for while my life was in shambles. Since then, two of my closest friends have said the same thing to me- “I’m tired of my sob story and always being the one that needs.” And I am grateful to say, “it is my privilege to walk beside you and hold up your arms for however long it takes. A time will come when I will need you to hold me up (again.)” That’s what love looks like.
So if your people are lifting you up right now, let them. And when you are able to stand again, show up. Rally. Pray. Cook. Listen. It’s your turn.