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“I’m so sorry to cancel our dinner together this weekend, but my husband is sick and my baby is teething and acting sick too now. But maybe we can catch dinner a different day before you guys leave town.”

I sent the text with a sighI had really been looking forward to that get-togetherthen jumped back into caregiver mode. Teething tablets for the baby, lunch for the sick hubby, another load of baby laundry. 

When I looked back at my phone again, her response brought tears to my eyes. It read something like this, “What can I do to help? Can I pick up groceries for you, run errands, etc.? Also, check your email. I just sent you a Doordash gift card for dinner.”

Here’s what’s extra special. This friend and I had never even met in person. That’s what this upcoming weekend was abouta chance for us all to finally get together face-to-face rather than through Facetime.

But this friend didn’t need to know me “in person” before becoming the hands and feet of Jesus for me. 

She gave me a couple of specific offers of help and a gift card for dinner. The simplicity of it belies the meaningfulness of it. These were all things she could do from her couch or car, yet it felt like she was standing right beside me helping hold some of the weight of that week. 

RELATED: I’ll Walk Beside You When Life is Hard, My Friend

Over the past few years, I have learned that showing up for people is much simpler than I ever thought, yet means far more than I ever knew. Loved ones have shown me how much it means to have someone walk side by side with you through the overwhelming days, whether from afar or nearby. People who I had just met showed me what it looks like to extend genuine compassion and hospitality, even when I was essentially a stranger to them. 

I’ve seen just how possible it is to rally around someone who needs community.

Even when you don’t live near them but especially if you do. Even during the days of social distancing.

When I traveled full-time with my husband for his work, I came face to face with the absolute necessity of community. We are not meant to do this life alone. Half of our community changed every time we moved, yet we learned how worthwhile it is to build a new one wherever we went next. And I was constantly delighted and convicted by how people took us under their wings and showed true hospitality even when they knew we wouldn’t be around for long. And then there was the other half of our community, made up by family and close friends and even new friends we made on the roadall people who put in the work to keep our connection strong.

Through those years and even now while we are finally somewhat settled in one place, I’m reminded again and again how simple but crucial it is to actively share in each other’s lives, in the good and the bad. To offer kindness to those we know well but also those we don’t.

To step into someone else’s pain, grief, or overwhelm is to love like Jesus loves. The kind of love that’s a verb, a concrete action, and not just a passive noun or a phrase that’s easy to say. 

Sometimes it’s big things people do that make us feel seen and loved. But a lot of times it’s the small things.

A surprise card or care package in the mail.

Random FaceTime calls to check in and see how you’re doing.

An invitation to spend the holidays with someone else’s family when you’re away from yours.

Someone asking if they can pray for you right then and there.

A $5 Venmo to “get a coffee on me because I know you’re working so hard.”

Specific offers of help that show they understand what you need and are willing to give it.

A virtual Doordash gift card.

Actually, now that I think about it, “small things” isn’t the right phrase. Maybe I should say simple things. Because to the receiver, they don’t feel small at all. They feel like a lifeline. They feel like hope. They’re reminders that we’re not alone in the mess.

RELATED: Here’s To the Mom Friends Who Show Up

Your act of kindness may feel like it’s too simple, you may assume all of their other friends have already offered these things, or you may think they don’t really need what you’re offering.

But, friend, I cannot stress this enough. Make the offer. Send the text. Do the thing. Show up. 

The act of showing up alone means far more than you know. It won’t matter to them if they don’t need that thing after all. What matters is that you thought of them and intentionally reached out. That they now know, without a doubt, you’re someone they can turn to when they do need help. Through your simple offer, you’re lifting some of the weight of their week, their month, their year off their shoulders and onto yours. Bearing each other’s burdens like the Bible verse Galatians 6:2 tells us to do.

I hope you’ve had someone show up for you in these ways before. But if you haven’t (and especially if you have), challenge yourself to become that person for someone else. Be the kind of friend you wish you had. The joy and fulfillment it brings are unreal. And the greater depth it gives to that friendship lasts forever. 

So just show up for people, no matter how insignificant your way of showing up feels. It might turn their whole day, their whole week, or even their whole life around. 

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Jessica Swanda

Jessica Swanda is a freelance writer who travels the USA full time with her husband. She’s always up for a good book, board game, or a vanilla chai latte. She writes about everything from travel and faith to business and marketing at her site proofisinthewriting.com.

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