I was talking with Catherine from the morning show yesterday about something that's been challenging me lately. Somehow we got on the topic of showing love to others and what keeps us from doing that more often. For me it was the waiting to see what new and exciting thing God has for me to do instead of looking at what I can be doing right now. For Cat it was the feeling that it's easier to do something anonymously or from a distance, like sponsoring a child through Compassion or sending a check to the Red Cross, than to actually invite someone into her home or life on a personal basis.
I think for both of us it comes down to taking the time to really LOVE the people around us. I'm talking about really digging in to get to know them, their families, and their struggles. Looking someone in the eye, truly listening to them, and making my life less about busyness and more about human beings. Why is this SO hard?
I don't have to look far for ways to put this into action. My next door neighbor is a single mom expecting her second child next month. I can show up at her door (literally three feet from mine) and say, "I'm here to do whatever needs to be done." And, when the baby arrives...I can show up and say..."I've got her...you go take a power nap or just have a few minutes to yourself." I'm not much of a cook, but I can make an extra large batch of spaghetti and deliver half of it before my family digs in.
So why is this my most commonly uttered 'helpful' phrase: "If there's anything I can do...just let me know!"? Hello! I've had a child...I know what I wish someone else would have done for me in that newborn stage...or what someone else DID that meant the world to me. Saying "If there's anything I can do..." is like saying "If the sky is blue tomorrow let me know and I'll come see how I can help, OK?" A single mom with two kiddos...of COURSE there's something I can do!
This is just one example. I can think of many times when someone's started opening up to me in any given situation and I've had to cut it short because I had somewhere to go, something to do. Now, that's a tough one. We all lead really busy lives these days and we usually are rushing from one place to the next. And secretly most of us are hoping that when we shout out that friendly, "How ya doing?" the answer will be a very quick, "GREAT, you?" But that's not always the case. Sometimes that other mom at Pre-School or the friend I bump into at the grocery store really needs a listening ear. I guess the key here is to really work my schedule so that there's time to be simply available...to my family and to people in general. Maybe it means getting up at 5 am to do my afternoon show prep so that Alyssa and I can go to a park later that morning. Then I'm available to play with her or we can invite one of her friends and his mom and I can truly focus on really talking with that mom. Or maybe it means getting to work early to catch up with the person at the desk next to mine so I can get my work done and still have time to find out how things are going in her marriage or with another situation in her life. Perhaps it's over lunch in the break room. It doesn't take money or a lot of special planning. It just takes TIME.
Love in the form of TIME! WOW - what better way to show someone I value their life than by taking the time to be a part of it! I don't know exactly in what ways this is going to unfold in my world...I just know that I want it to unfold!