The Importance of Loving Our People – What I Learned From A Hard Week
I had a week.
The kind of week when your husband travels from Friday-Friday and showering feels like a victory.
When getting kids ready, fed, bathed, and chauffeured with lunches and homework in hand leaves you feeling like a walking zombie at all hours.
When it rains every day and thunderstorms every night leaving a perpetual wah-wah mood.
When your TV gets shattered by a little drummer…and wind snaps your wooden patio table umbrella…and your coffee machine breaks.
I had a week.
The week prior was an emotionally exhausting one grieving a memory that I still haven’t fully worked through. On top of that, all of the incredibly saddening reports about the Church scandals kept rolling in. Meanwhile, I had a presentation to a moms group scheduled and a podcast go up. I mean, dang.
None of us are immune to these type of days, weeks, months or even years; the ones that leave us feeling like a beaten weasel, yawning 24/7, and just not feeling ourselves.
I’m getting my mojo back now, but these past two exhausting, caffeine-depleted, flying-solo weeks taught me a lot. They reminded me how incredibly important our people are to get us through the crazy and show us we’re not alone.
Having Courage to Ask for Help
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to be transparent enough to let people know we’re on the struggle bus and could use a hand.
I felt this way when I returned back to work after therapy, like I didn’t want to be a burden to my busy teammates, roommates, and friends. That fall, I took on a second Bible study and did the normal missionary workload (discipleship, team meetings, retreat planning, etc.) all while continuing therapy and trying to plan my wedding.
One day on a walk a roommate said she was sad she never saw me. I mentioned being bogged by all the aforementioned tasks and do you know what she did? She asked, “How can I help?” That very next weekend I had all of my roommates over to my future apartment to staple our wedding programs.
Your people want to help, but they don’t know how if you don’t ask.
Here’s what my people taught me this week.
The Gift of Family
I had the pleasure of sharing Brad and I’s story, “For Better or For Worse”, with a moms group last Saturday, But, honestly? That morning I was spent before I even began. It was the only morning all week I had the energy to apply makeup because standards.
That morning, as I got us all ready while practicing my talk, I told my little ones how much I needed them to be good helpers. I told them if anyone threw a tantrum or didn’t listen, mommy would be late and stressed. And you know what? Their sweet little six, five, and two-year-old hearts stepped up.
They’re still young pups, but they could sense that mommy meant ride-or-die BUSINESS that morning. They got themselves dressed, threw pop tarts in the toaster and filled up water bottles for our breakfast commute. They helped distribute discussion questions while I set up the camera and PowerPoint once we arrived.
They cheered me on from daycare and drew me pictures while I spoke.
These girls were just what I needed this morning. Family is such a gift to help us get through these hard weeks if we ask them to. I’m convinced on crazy mornings like this one more than ever.
The Gift of Fellowship
That morning, I shared what we learned during one of the most trying marriage preparations and our nine-year journey thus far. I encouraged the women, among other things, to speak truth into their spouse’s lies and stop comparing their marriage to that “perfect couple” that doesn’t exist.
As I shared my story, I was so encouraged by the moms that I spoke to. Some were recently married, others empty nesters, and others working through separations or divorces, but all of them shared their stories, their struggles, and encouragement to show we’re not alone.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and not all members have the same function, so in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another.” – Romans 12:4-5
On that hard week, those women sharing their hearts was such a gift to my tired soul and to all of the amazing women, “to realize I’m not the only one out there going through this,” as one mom put it. Authenticity is one of the best ways to build up the body.
The Gift of Friendship
During my tiring week, a friend came over after violin lessons one night with flowers and wine. She cooked homemade pizza for me and the girls, plus a few neighbors that were over.
I’m sure she had many other things on her list she could’ve prioritized above cooking for what turned into nine people, but she chose friendship. She chose to be with six screaming littles. And it meant the world.
Other friends texted, commented, or called when I asked for prayers during my emotionally exhausting week. It’s so easy to burrow down into our little self-pity shell when we’re at a hard spot. These weeks reminded me of the utter importance of sharing our pain and asking for prayers; for help. Their thoughts and prayers allowed me the freedom to process and grieve, rather than tuck away the pain, that week.
Just as Mother Teresa taught us, let’s lay down our selfish motives, vanity, and pride and choose to love in little, homemade pizza ways with a smile.
The Gift of Community
Another mom asked me last week if I wanted to take part in a frozen meal exchange to alleviate the dinner hour mayhem. My response? “Umm, YES.”
Brad is out-of-town the better part of September and last week I got light-headed some days because I wasn’t eating like I should. On Friday, I made seven batches of chili to share while cleaning out my freezer to fill with other family’s meals to get me through this month.
This parenthood gig is an exhausting deal. If you, like myself, ain’t got no time to stock a freezer or bake a homemade meal every night, grab some friends, a cooler, and Ziploc your specialty like it’s a full-time job. Or if you are feeling overwhelmed by cleaning or laundry, do a daycare swap with a friend while they catch up and vice versa.
We are all in this together.
If You’re Feeling Tribeless, Help A Sister Out
I was blessed this week to have my people swoop in and lighten my load, but sometimes situations in life make our tribe out-of-town or unavailable. If you’re struggling to build authentic friendships, neighborhoods, or church community in your current chapter, you’re not alone.
If you’re feeling like the kid not picked for the team or the horrible friend, try starting with one person.
Call an old friend and catch up. Invite someone you keep running into out for lunch or over for coffee.Send a text, email, or direct message complimenting someone for the awesome thing you see them doing online.
This Sunday at Church we were in the cry room, per usual. Brad was out back with one little acting a mess while I was on toy-fight control with the other two. Another mom was chasing her one-year-old who, right before the sign of peace, proceeded to dump an entire bag of yogurt bites all over the floor.
As her eyes widened in horror, my mom empathy kicked in because I have had my fair share of picking up allll the Cheerios, pretzels, or puffs before switching over to a fruit snacks-only Church policy. I got on my knees in her kid’s mess, said, “Peace be with you,” with a smile, and we proceeded to pick up every last yogurt bite as we laughed.
“But God has put the body together…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” -1 Corinthians 12:24,26
Until we start being vulnerable enough to share our lows – “I’m struggling with kid-rearing, house cleaning, balancing work and family, my marriage, etc.” – and our highs – “I’m so excited for my vacation, a new friend, babysitting this weekend :-/, etc.” we can’t know and love each other fully.
If you really want to build your friendships and community, one of the best ways is through hospitality; through showing up and asking, “How can I help?”
Let’s be the type of family, believer, friend, and neighbor that shares our crazy and loves each other out of theirs.
I’m so thankful for the people who loved me out of mine this week.
How has someone helped you out of a crazy chapter? How can you help someone in your corner get out of theirs? I’d love to hear some ideas!