I was told a story recently about one woman saying to another woman, “Let’s get together for coffee sometime!” To which the other woman replied, “Please don’t say that if it’s not actually going to happen. It’s hurtful to me if you say that and then it never happens.”
I was first struck by the boldness of this response. It felt a bit much to me. As if to assume that everyone’s intentions aren’t genuine. But the more I thought about it the more I want to be the woman who speaks with such honesty.
We are a culture of platitudes. We know just the words to say to come across as thoughtful, charming, insightful. I’ll call you. I’ll pray for you. Oh girl, I’m here for you. I just want to support you.
And while I believe that the heart behind these words is right and good – intention doesn’t really get us anywhere! I’ve long told my husband that it is certainly NOT the thought that counts. It is action that counts every time. You may not simply think about my birthday gift – I want the actual gift!
We can talk ourselves up all day long about all the things we will do – we want to do, even. But then, we just don’t. Life gets busy and things happen and those prayers we really meant to pray get forgotten. We all have enough going on in our own lives to worry about the happenings of the family next door, right?
It turns out – talking about something enough actually confuses our brain into producing the chemical response which makes us feel as if we actually did the thing we’re talking about! So talk all day long about how you want to help the poor, and you start to feel like you’re actually helping the poor though you haven’t done a single thing! Strategize all day long about that business you want to start and you have the same great feelings as if you’d have started the business – except you haven’t.
It’s a tricky business, this sort of talk.
In our lives we’ve had tons of people offer their support through various seasons. I’m so grateful for it, for the thought, for the intention even. Except I’m learning that it doesn’t actually do anything to help. I’m starting to think the woman in the initial conversation had it right. To people who say, “We want to support you,” I sort of want to say, “Please don’t say that if it’s not actually going to happen. I know you mean well. I know you want to. But it’s hurtful to me if you say that and then nothing ever happens.”
So how can we actually support the people around us? Show up. That’s it. Just be there, literally though – not just in word.
Be right beside them when they have to trek up to the hospital room. Barge into their home and scrub the bathroom they haven’t been able to clean. Send the text AFTER you pray to tell them what you just did. Leave a bag of green apples and nail polish on the front step. (You know who you are!) Drop off a dinner. (You know who YOU are!) Schedule a coffee and just show up. Make the soup. Drive the kids. (Thanks, Mom!) Pick up the groceries. Lend the book. Give up your half used gift card. (Love you!) Steal them away for a movie out.
I’m endlessly thankful for the people who have simply shown up for us. In a million ways – big and small. It has allowed us to show up for the broadened circle of people in our life. Which in turn has allowed them to show up for their people. It’s a beautiful cycle, really.
I want to be a show’er upper. Talk is cheap, so they say – and I’m thinking whoever ‘they’ are – they’re on to something. I learned from that bold woman that talk is more than cheap, it’s hurtful. Talk can lead people to believe in something that will never occur. Dare I say, this type of talk is just a lie?
I sat with a woman a few days ago who told me evangelism was easy. I looked at her with my head tilted slightly and my facial expression saying something like, “Huh? What now?” Evangelism and easy wouldn’t be two words I would string together.
So easy, she went on. You just show up. You show up and you sit beside. You show up and you listen. You show up and you bring the meal. You show up and you hold the hand. You show up and you just sit – silent. You show up and you let the tears fall. You show up with paint brush in hand. You just show up. Evangelism is just about showing up. Once you’re there, once you’ve done the showing up, Jesus just makes sense to people.
All of the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place.
Don’t just talk – show up.
Evangelism is easy – show up.
What would Jesus do? – show up.
Jesus didn’t send a text to the woman at the well telling her they should grab water sometime. He didn’t mention in passing that he would pray about the storm stopping. He didn’t tell those who were sick that he really wanted to support them and then carry on.
No, he showed up. He showed up and said drink. He showed up and commanded the storm to stop. He showed up and told the lame to walk and the blind to see.
Just. Show. Up.
Not sure where you can show up? Pray! Ask God to show you who needs you, who needs something, who needs your time or your resources or you hand. There are people on every street in town that need someone to show up. Maybe that someone is you.
Let’s be world changers. Just show up.