October has begun, and I’m beginning to see all of the Thanksgiving decorations go up. This is the beginning of my favorite time of year, so it ignites a deep happiness inside of me. Honestly, I can get down-right annoying about it!
As I’m seeing all of the “grateful – thankful – blessed” doormats and wreaths go up, it has me thinking a little bit differently this year. As much as the holiday season can be a time for heart-warming, family fun and food, it can also be a really difficult season for others. Whether it has been a loss of a loved one, an argument that hasn’t been resolved, or anything else that might hinder the “holiday happiness syndrome,” it has me wondering… What are the things we can do to help?
When someone suffers a loss or is going through a difficult time, we are so quick to send the “please let me know what I can do for you” text. Truth is, if we’re being really honest, that is a bit of a cop-out. I know that personally, I will never actually reply saying “hey actually, I need this and this and this.” I know I’m not alone in that. I’d say it’s a combination of a pride issue and a people-pleasing issue. I don’t want anyone to think I “need” help, but I also don’t want to inconvenience anyone.
So, what can we do? Well, that’s just it. We just show up and do. So I’m going to come up with a few ideas of how we can give back to the people in our lives or maybe some of the organizations in the area you live in. Let us be the reason that someone hangs up a “grateful – thankful – blessed” wreath this year.
For the people in your “circle”
- Make a meal or bake a dish! Then drop it off at their house with an encouraging note and the recipe. Everyone loves food and why not “feed” them emotionally with a note of encouragement at the same time.
- If you’re friends with a single parent or a foster family, pick a date/time, and tell them you’re available to babysit so they can go out or even just hide in another room.
- Send them a thoughtful gift or flowers! Doesn’t have to extravagant or expensive… just something thoughtful to remind them they aren’t alone.
- Go to the grocery store and pick up some items for a friend and drop them off. Life can get so crazy busy, that we can even lack the time for simple things like this. Think about how much of a relief that would be to have these things just show up for you!
- Take some post it notes with encouraging bible verses or quotes, and just leave them randomly throughout your day. Sure, it’s possible that it’ll just get thrown out, but maybe someone passing by will really need to hear whatever you wrote down. Imagine how cool that would be! You can leave these on the train, at a restaurant, etc.
- Buy some McDonald’s gift cards and pass them out to any homeless people you walk by.
- Buy some hand warmers, attach a bible verse or encouraging note, and pass them around to homeless people or anyone working outdoors.
- Reach out to a jail or prison in your area and see what types of needs they have. If they are lacking supplies, such as notebooks, toiletries, etc., maybe you reach out to your friends or coworkers to see what you can gather together to donate.
- Purchase a gift card or small gift and attach a bible verse or encouraging note to it and pass it out to police officers, firefighters, and/or paramedics you cross paths with during the holiday. Let them know they are appreciated for sacrificing time with their own families to protect us.
For the organizations in your area:
- Talk with a pastor at your church! The church I attend is always talking about doing “life on mission.” They have a bunch of organizations and groups that they work with and support. I guarantee that you would LOVE To get plugged in!
- Reach out to your local food pantry or Feed My Starving Children to see when and where you can volunteer.
- Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter.
Please feel free to comment any other ideas you can think of! I’m sure there are a lot of other good ones, but at least this can be something to start from. I think that if we can try to do one or two of these, we may find that we receive more than we are giving. That definitely shouldn’t be our intent… but I know, personally, I am most joyful when I’m pouring into others. My problems seem less important and my focus is shifted to things that matter most.
I think it’s important to add that sometimes people are just looking for a friend to simply be there with them, so an act of kindness can be that in itself. So if your friend is sick, go to the doctor appointment with them. If your friend is struggling with depression, show up and be there to listen. If you really aren’t sure what you can do, just be the friend that you needed when you went through your darkest time. Life is hard but it’s all we got! Sometimes we get so stuck in our dark places that a simple kind act can bring the light that we so desperately needed to see. Let’s help be the reason someone goes from feeling stressed to feeling blessed!
Please feel free to comment or reach out to my contact contact page to let me know how I can pray for your during this season.
For some fun – since they say that laughter is best medicine for the soul, I wanted to share something silly. This picture from our trip to Six Flags came to mind when I thought of the title for this entry, and in case you’re wondering, I’m the stressed one in the photo! 🙂