Monday, August 3, 2009

Bread Or Stones

Happily, and I say this with great trepidation, my life seems to be settling down a bit. There’s a hint of fear factor in these words, because every time I settle in for some good old fashioned peace, another challenge comes along to knock me out of the boat and back into the ever choppy waters of life!

I’m going to try to cherish this moment and not just hold my breath while waiting for the other shoe to drop. My prayer has ALWAYS been that my struggles will not have been for nothing and that people might learn from my mistakes. I pray also that I might share some of the wisdom that comes from surviving.

Many times people ask me, “I feel so helpless, but I want to do SOMETHING. What can I do for my friend, when there’s nothing I can do?” Great question. So….let me share some of the things that people did for me that really helped, and some not so helpful things (although completely well-meaning).

Matthew 7:9 asks a question, which among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? In this passage Jesus is saying that when you come to the Father, He will provide you with what you nee

Now, sometimes we ask for one thing, and God gives us something else – because He knows what we NEED. In Psalms 37 we also read that if we delight ourselves in doing God’s will, he will give us the desires of our heart. When dealing with someone in crisis, if you ask them what they NEED at that very moment, they will tell you. Do not try to give them a stone, if what they are asking for is bread. Oh, it might make YOU feel good to know that you were doing SOMETHING, but it may make things harder for the person in pain then you realize.

When my daughter was missing (a drug-addicted teen runaway) we had MANY need.

When people asked what they could do to help, we told them, but for the most part – no one asked. I think they (like us) were overwhelmed with the enormity and gravity of the situation, and most did not know what to say. I get that.

One day a friend called me up and said, “I know that if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t be getting my chores done. So, I’m going to come over and clean your refrigerator. Don’t say no, I’m coming.” I KNEW she wanted to do SOMETHING, so I didn’t say no. However, what do you think I did before she came over? (Everyone) I cleaned my refrigerator! Well, I took out the really gross science project stuff at least. I also vacuumed the rest of my house, because I was embarrassed and didn’t want her to see how badly I was dealing with thing.

I cried the whole time I was cleaning because I felt guilty about the fact that I wasn’t out looking for my daughter. I know my friend wanted to help, but at that moment, I felt that I was being given a stone when what I really needed was bread!

A friend of mine tells the story of having a need being met and I love it. She told me that when her mother-in-law died, she was overwhelmed with all the details – family, funeral, emotions, etc…. A dear friend of hers called and said, “What do you need”. She told her to “be real”. So, my friend was raw and real. “What I need”, she said, “is for my laundry to get done”. The friend told her to leave it on her porch. So my friend loaded all the dirty laundry (underwear and all) into two huge garbage bags and put the bags out on her porch. The next day all the laundry was returned to her porch, clean and folded neatly. My friend didn’t even have to open her door, vacuum her house, or put on make-up. Talk about meeting a need! Awesome story!

The people who provided bread to me in my times of need will never be forgotten.

One day 50 people gathered in the parking lot of the church we attended and were given flyers featuring the face of my beautiful missing child. They spent the morning canvassing the city and putting those flyers on every pole and in every window they could find! I love those people.

On that very morning, I walked out of my house to find that my tire was flat. There was a nail in the tire! My husband put the tiny “donut” spare tire on the car and we went to the meeting place. One of the people who had arrived to distribute flyers offered to take the tire with the nail in it and have it repaired! When we returned home that afternoon, the repaired tire was sitting on our doorstep! I didn’t have to miss a step, or take one moment away from the enormous job at hand and I was so grateful. Bread!

I too find myself wondering what I can do to help. The needs of a family in crisis are HUGE. They need money, food, shelter, counseling, and sometimes a good attorney. Sometimes the only thing I can give is a hug or an ear with which to listen.

So many times people are so confused as to what to say that they ignore the hurting person all together. Don’t do that! I’ve spent hours on the phone with hurting moms whose children are lost in rebellion. I’ve talked women through the jail visitation process. I’ve sent Starbucks gift cards to friends. No pressure – they can use the cards whenever they feel like taking a moment, or they just need a cup of coffee! I’ve sent cards of encouragement, and emails saying, “I’m thinking of you”.

These aren’t big things, but believe me…they help!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT assume that you know what a person in crisis needs. Ask them! Don’t give stones when all they’re asking for is bread. Surely we can find a piece of bread to give a hurting person.