People were not meant to be alone, but despite that inherent understanding, the first thing we do when we are hurt, struggling, or grieving is retreat. There are various degrees, from the short “I’m fine” reply to full silence. That darkness becomes like a heavy weighted blanket—oddly comforting but it feels like you might suffocate too. Our mind plays these evil tricks on us and makes us think we will be a burden or an inconvenience, or that people have their own busyness and troubles without taking on ours as well. We think about making the calls to reach out but don’t. We become paralyzed by a fear of asking for help, companionship, or love.
While it may feel like the truth when you are under the shroud of sorrow, guilt, anxiety, or grief, I promise you that it is never true that no one will be there for you. You have to let people show up for you.
You have to let them run the errand for you that you can’t manage to either fit time in your schedule to do or can’t get yourself out of bed to accomplish. You have to let them bring the meals. You have to let them take your kids to school or soccer or wherever, so you can be somewhere else you should be, taking care of yourself. You have to let them in to clean or deliver you a treat or to sit on the couch watching a movie you’ve both seen a million times. You need to let people show up with their large and small gestures. You need to let people who love you love you.
By not letting people show up for you, you may think you are sparing them somehow.
You don’t want them to see your messy kitchen, your undone hair, your collection of pizza boxes. They aren’t there to judge or criticize.
You don’t want them to see you running yourself ragged to appear “fine,” “normal,” “hanging in there.” They want to see you. They know you might not be totally yourself. They don’t even need to actually see you! They can drop something off or have something delivered to you.
You don’t want them to see you cry. They may not want to see you cry, but they would rather be there for you when you are crying than not. Maybe they would like to cry with you, or for you.
You don’t want them to see you weak, afraid, or alone. They can help pick you up, make you strong, and walk alongside you until you can do it yourself again.
Let people show up how they can show up for you. They will bring themselves, their gifts, talents, time, attention, and love. They will bring you opportunities to be relieved, to rest, and recover. They can give you a distraction if that’s what you need.
How do you know people will show up though? They offer to, all the time, in different ways. They may be obvious about it and say “let me know if there is anything we can do” or be more subtle and say “you’ll be in our prayers.” All you have to do is say okay instead of deflecting or downplaying. You don’t even have to know what you need at that moment but as long as you say okay, that person knows you will give them a chance when the time is right.
It’s a tremendous gift, giving someone the chance to help. One day, you might be the one who gets to show up for someone else, and you’ll understand the filling of your spirit it can give you. It’s a cycle: needing love, being loved, giving love. Ask for love, receive love, give love. Let people show up—repeat the cycle.
If you are someone who wants to be the one to show up, try changing the way you offer. Instead of saying “let me know if I can do anything for you,” say “what can I do for you?” or “what do you need right now?” Give people a chance to let you show up.