After my post last month about our current situation and a few of my personal thoughts on the matter, Don't Be a Hero?, I got a lot of feedback from people who were in similar situations. Many replied, yes, that is how I feel, or yes, that is what I wish people knew. And several had a few new suggestions as well. All spoke to my heart and I KNEW I had to continue the message on how to help others. I contacted some friends in these various situations and asked them what they wish they could tell people.
So straight from their lips to your ears-
Families with deployed spouses-
-While we do not want you to pretend our spouse is not where they are, we do not want to talk about current events. We are living current events and yes, I know what is going on there today and every day.
-Include us in your holidays.
-Call just to check in.
-Be a role model for our children, especially our boys whose dads are away.
-Provide a girls night out. Sometimes we need to hear another adult's voice, other than our own.
-Just show up and shovel the snow or mow the lawn. It is great when someone just sees a need and handles it. I don't want to have to ask.
-Offer to host a playdate so I can run errands alone. Sometimes the silence is needed.
-Provide rides to and from kids' activities occasionally. At the end of the day, it is hard to drag myself out again.
-Offer to teach a skill you have to my child. It gives me a breather.
-Do not compare my deployment to yours. Each is unique and this is not a contest.
-Please do not tell us how blessed we are. Yes, we are blessed. But that does not lessen how much we miss our loved one.
-Offer specific help on specific days. I cannot handle any more decisions- feel free to make some.
-Ask yes or no questions. Sometimes that is simply all we can handle.
Single People/College Students
-Invite us over for dinner or just a movie.
-Treat us to lunch out occasionally. It doesn't have to be big, it is just nice to feel like part of a family.
-Take us home with you after church. Weekends can be lonely.
-Offer us a quiet place to study away from the campus.
-Surprise us with a gift card or cookies. We miss mom's home cooking!
-Include us in holidays when we are far from home.
-Talk about our loved one.
-Pray for us.
-Don't be afraid of our tears.
-Offer to have us over for special events and holidays.
-Adopt us as part of your family.
-Include us in your everyday life.
-Don't assume that being around other married couples is hard. Sometimes the role models are good to have.
-Offer words of encouragement.
-Offer prayers, not platitudes!
-Offer help in specific ways, not just the "call if you need me" line.
-Physical touch matters. Offer hugs and pats on the back.
-Offer to help with our kids occasionally.
Those who Are Sick/Hurt
-Offer to get our mail or take out our trash.
-Drop off a plate of food for dinner as a surprise.
-Stop in with a movie and snacks for the evening.
-Offer a ride to doctor's appointments.
-Drop a card in the mail to us. Isolation is not fun and sometimes a funny card can life our spirits.
-Offer words of encouragement.
-Pray with us and for us!
Oh friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If there is one single thing this past year has taught our family it is that people are more important that things. We do not need things for the most part, we need people. We must learn to take better care of each other; we must be the hands and feet of Jesus.
It takes effort. It takes thought. And it often means stepping out of our comfort zone and putting our own selves aside. Serving others is hard work.
But would God want any less of us?
May we all be challenged by the honest words of my friends. I know our family has been. We want to make a difference in people's lives.
Linking with friends!