Earlier this year, I was in a really rough spot. I was going through some parenting stuff that consumed my mind, body, and spirit. One day, after dropping my kids at school, I sat in a parking lot praying, crying, and searching for answers. It was the out loud kind of cry, the shake your whole body kind of cry, the kind of cry that comes with words hurled to heaven. I really wanted the Lord to just fix things for me, maybe wave a magic wand or something, but I have enough experience to know that isn’t the way things work. So instead, I begged him to please send me someone I could talk to who would understand.
After that good cry and fervent prayer, I felt composed enough to pull myself together and make it to a meeting I had planned on attending. It seemed insignificant and unnecessary at the moment, but I couldn’t shake the idea that I needed to be there. At the very least, it might be nice to focus on something else that could take my mind off my current heaviness.
Right before it started, I saw a friend who I am not especially close to but always enjoy conversing with slip into the back row. She smiled and waved from the corner of the room, and it felt good to see a friendly face.
After the meeting, I stopped to ask the presenters a few questions and was pleasantly surprised to see this same friend waiting by the door. We caught up on the superficial parts of life, but when she asked me how things were really going, I opened all the way up. She felt safe, like an answer to a prayer, and I hoped she might understand and offer me a little comfort.
She listened without judgment, empathized, and shared her umbrella as we talked in the rain. She helped me sort things out and let me ramble and worry. She didn’t offer a solution or mitigate my feelings. She didn’t share something harder that she had been through, but she did assure me that, eventually, everything would be okay. And for the first time in a while, I believed it.
I am sure I held her up for far too long, and she most likely didn’t have time to stop and listen, but she didn’t look at her watch or pull out her phone or duck out before I was finished. She stood with me for as long as I needed her, until I really did have to go. As I walked to my car, I felt that a weight had been lifted. My situation hadn’t changed, but she had taken a portion of my worry and anxiety and carried it with her, freeing a piece of me. The rest of the day felt different—a little more hopeful.
I didn’t expect any more from her. She gave me so much in that moment on the sidewalk, but her ministering wasn’t over. That evening, she called and asked for my address because she wanted to bring me something. Normally I would refuse, hating that I had already burdened her and monopolized so much of her time, but a part of me still craved that extra support. So, instead of saying no, I said yes, grateful for the chance to see her again. She came to my door with a hot, delicious loaf of French bread, a smile, and a sincere note full of kind things she had noticed about me over the last couple of years. She had no idea how badly I needed that sustenance in every way. The bread was the first thing I had eaten all day, and her note reminded me of the goodness that was in me.
She told me that she just wanted to check in and make sure I was feeling better, but she also wanted me to know that it wasn’t just chance that we crossed paths that afternoon. She had no intention of being at the meeting but had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to go anyway. It seemed like a silly prompting, but she followed it, and I will be forever grateful that she did. God had sent her there, just for me, to let me know that my prayers had not stopped at the ceiling of my minivan that morning but had reached Him, and He had sent someone running. He heard me. He understood me, and He would not leave me comfortless.
My sweet friend was an example of so many gospel truths that day. She reminded me that when we feel like someone might need us, we must take the opportunity to show up and slow down; our time and our lives are not our own; we might have to take a detour in our perfectly planned day if we want to fulfill a bigger, more meaningful purpose; we don’t have to be family, neighbors, or best friends to make a difference; and nothing is more important than a brother or sister in need.
We cannot just be the people who check the “I cared about someone today” box and move along to better, more interesting scenes. We cannot let someone share their heart and soul and then dismiss them and their situation like everything will be fine. We have to follow up. Following up shows investment, trust, and true Christlike charity. We cannot forget that we are all the Lord has to fulfill His work of succoring, comforting, and loving. We cannot let Him down; we promised we wouldn’t.
And if you are hurting or struggling or bearing a burden that is heavier than you can manage, open up and share your heart with someone you trust. How can we lighten one another’s loads if we never know they exist? There is no weakness in accepting help, and people are often so much better than we give them credit for. Take a chance, and remember that it is okay to need. It unites us and bonds us in ways nothing else can, so embrace it and give someone the opportunity to truly minister to you. Through that process, you will get a glimpse of Christ’s love and then have the strength to turn around and pass that love along.