This Christmas has been a heartbreaking one for so many of my loved ones. I’ve been struggling trying to find some way to reach out and show that I am here and I care. My friend told me yesterday that service was scary. She never felt confident in her abilities to reach out and do. It got me thinking. Often times when we see a need or a struggle, we desperately want to help but we don’t know how. We get nervous and let self doubt take over. We let fear stop us. With all our heart we want to help but in the end, we do nothing. I’m here today to say that anything is better than nothing.
Sometimes the simplest act of kindness can be just what someone is longing for. Will it change everything? Will you fix their pain? Probably not, but you will share light in the darkness and that is something. You can’t take a heartache away, but you can ease the pain even if just a little. By writing this post I’m not saying I’m perfect at service, because I am beyond far from it. But, I’m trying and I’m learning. Instead of standing back, I want to step forward and I know you do to.
Here are 5 ideas for serving others that say “I see you”.
These tips and tricks are simple and quick, not overbearing, and if done in the right spirit, can bring a little cheer.
1. Bring Food
Growing up Mormon, I never realized that everybody else’s mothers in the world didn’t bring casseroles and pies to those around them at the drop of a hat. It was a pretty regular occurrence in my home and to be honest, I thought it was kind of silly. I mean, what does chicken and stuffing have to do with a baby birth or the loss of a job anyway? Well, a lot actually. Food is a basic requirement for life. It’s one of those simple things that we enjoy but maybe take for granted. In the middle of an ordeal, food isn’t where our mind is. When you are thinking about how to plan a burial, how to pay the hospital bills, or even simply how to get out of bed and face the day you don’t care what there is to eat.
Food nourishes the body, and in times of trial it can also nourish the soul.
If you love to cook, make your favorite dish. Are you a baker? Whip up some cookies. Do you burn microwave popcorn? Heck friend, order a pizza! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just from your heart.
Here are some of my recipes I love that would make great gifts:
This recipe makes a huge batch of cookies so you’ll have plenty to give and some left over for your own fam to enjoy. I love to keep a bag of this dough in my freezer for last minute gift giving. You can find out how I freeze them HERE. It’s an old post with bad photos, but ignore that and see the awesomeness that is frozen cookie dough, y’all!
This is a yummy candy popcorn recipe from my childhood that I love to package up and give. It’s a simple and delicious way to tell someone you are thinking of them.
2. Share your Time
I know this might sound daunting during this busy holiday season, but everybody has 30 minutes somewhere to share with someone else. I’m convinced that people make time for the things that are important to them. If serving someone is important, you’ll find a way. How do you share your time? Shovel a snowy driveway. Visit the hospital. Babysit so a young mom can go get her shopping done. It’s not as difficult as we make it out to be. Just be there, just show up.
My friend Camille once said something that really hit me and I’ve never forgotten. She has 2 sets of twins and when they were tiny her life was completely crazy. When talking about how to really serve someone, she very bluntly told our group of friends to stop saying “Please let me know if there is anything I can do.” and just do. She was right. Most of the time people aren’t going to let you know what they need. Often, we just have to show up, say “Here I am!” and get to work.
One of my best friends demonstrated this concept to me in real life. I had 4 kids 8 and under, my husband had been on the road for weeks, I had a horrendous case of bronchitis and pneumonia, and to top it all off it was my 30th birthday. You guys, I was so sick I couldn’t lift my head off my pillow! Other people get surprise 30th Birthday parties and all I got was sickness, a horrible case of the lonelies, and hungry, crying children. I’ll never forget the moment my dear friend walked in the front door. She dropped a tupperware of soup on the counter, packed the diaper bag, gathered up my kids, and without saying a word, took them home for the day. She knew me and my stubbornness so darn well that she didn’t ask, she just did.
I still cry to this day when I think of her service to me.
It meant everything.
These two experiences taught me a vital lesson… stop overthinking.
Just go and do.
I mean, really! What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they’ll say no. If they do, they do, but at least they will know you are there and willing.
3. Give of Your Talents
Oh, stop it right now! Don’t you even try to tell me you have no talents. We both know that’s bull. There is something you can give of yourself in a way that only you can give. I have no doubt.
My amazing friend Melissa magically shows up on my bad days with boxes full of awesome. She is one of the best cooks I know, and she uses her culinary talents to create joy. I can’t even begin to number the times she’s brought me something delicious that she made just for me. Instead of being scared that others won’t like what she has concocted, she stands there with her trademark gorgeous smile and gives from her heart.
Maybe you love to sketch or paint? Why not paint their home or a draw a picture of their family? If you are handy with tools, make a Christmas Star or fix their broken fence. If gardening is your talent, surprise them with some weeding or a little kitchen planter of herbs. Stitch a pillow with a favorite quote. Write them a song and invite them over to hear it. Kill them with kindness if that’s what you bring to the world! There is something YOU can do in YOUR own way that nobody else can.
4. Send Money
Sometimes a simple envelope with some no strings attached cash tucked inside is exactly what is needed.
My beautiful cousin passed away unexpectedly this past weekend. The greatest gift anyone could give her children was the knowledge that her funeral expenses were handled. People from all over donated to cover the cost. Makes me bawl just thinking about it. What an amazing gift at a time of such terrible heartache. Oh man, you guys! People are good!
It doesn’t have to be a lot. If all you have is $5, than that is enough. If the thought of handing someone money gives you the bad kind of butterflies, consider this permission to stick it in an envelope, tape it to their front door, and ride like the wind!
Giving money can feel impersonal, but it doesn’t have to. It will mean something, and probably more than you know. Back in college, the hubs and I found ourselves in a cash crunch. We were both going to school full time, working on the side. My husband was even giving plasma to make ends meet. I remember getting ready to go quit school because I didn’t know how I would pay our bills. I was devastated. We knelt and prayed for God’s help, then went to bed. The next morning, to our surprise, the cash we needed to pay the bills was taped to our front door. It’s been 15 years and you know what? That plain white envelope is still one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever received.
5. Offer a Kind Word
Last but definitely not least, do you realize that you can serve just through your words?
I don’t think we understand at all the power that can come from a kind thought, message, or note. You can offer service by simply sending a text, writing a letter, or penning a card. It may not feel like much, but it may mean the world to the person you give it to. A couple years ago I shared with you in THIS post about my treasure box. The contents are some of my most precious of possessions. Words.
Words have power.
They can lift, refill, enlighten, strengthen, and make whole.
In a world that uses words to stab, shock, and cause pain, use your words to serve. Make that phone call. Send that text. Make the comment on Instagram you felt in your heart. Dust off that old stationary and stamps! It doesn’t have to be long. Just let them know you care. Your words might be the very thing that keeps them going today. Your thoughtfulness might turn on a light.
I hope these 5 ideas for serving others spark some thought of how you can serve.
Remember, it’s not what you do. It’s the thought and the love behind it that matters.
Do you remember a time someone served you that you still treasure?