by Shayla Asselin
I believe it’s relatively accurate for me to assume that most of us have sent and received the following words via text messaging, a phone call, or even in person - “I’m here for you if you need anything.” Within the last few months I’ve been comforted by those words and I’ve tried to comfort others with those words. But a few months ago, I sent the “I’m here for you text.” and almost instantly felt a little prick.
Nathaniel (my husband) was driving down the road and I was sitting in the passenger seat texting. As soon as I hit the send button, I told Nathaniel, “I just told her I was here for her, but I really feel like I should be there with her.” Because he is the most supportive person I know, he just responded with “Let’s do it.” So we got in the car and made the trip. We didn’t get to stay very long but I just wanted her to know that she didn’t have to come here, because I was willing to go there.
Before I go any further, I want to insert two things.
The first thing is that I know there are times when people who are going through hard times and difficult seasons need their space. I have been there when getting the “I’m here for you.” text was just the encouragement I needed.
The second thing is that I did not share the story above to pat myself on the back. I’ll be the first to admit that more often than not my typical response is “I’m here for you.” and I rarely actually go there to be with them. I shared the story above because God opened my eyes and showed me that being here for people in their difficult seasons is not always enough. Sometimes I have to go there to be with them.
Now this experience has left me with two questions. How do I know when I am supposed to be “here” and when I should go “there”? What does going “there” look like?
To be honest, I don’t really know if I know the answer to either of these questions. I feel like trusting God’s prompting and being aware of the words your friend is using, as well as, their emotional state could be two of the best ways to answer the first question.
Now what does going “there” look like? I certainly know that I don’t have all of the answers to this question, but I have spent some time thinking about how people have been “there” for me.
There was a fresh meal dropped off at my door.
She brought me lunch and held my baby for 30 minutes while I ate lunch and took a shower.
They came to our house while I was in the hospital and had the entire house sparkling when I came home.
She caught my eye during the funeral processional and gave me a quick smile. We didn’t even get a chance to speak that day but knowing she was there meant a lot to me.
They came to our house with a packing list and helped my entire family pack suitcases when we had to make a sudden, difficult trip after my uncle unexpectedly passed away.
She rang the doorbell, gave me a hug, and just sat on the couch in quiet company until I was ready to talk.
They babysat my 3 month old baby while I spent the night in the emergency room.
My prayer from this whole experience has been “God, open my eyes to the opportunities I have to be there for people and give me wisdom to know when I should stay here.”
If you have any testimonials about how someone who was either “here” or “there” for you really ministered to you, I’d love to hear them. It could be that through your testimony, God opens the eyes of our hearts to see more ways to show His love to others.