There is a question I tend to ask people who are hurting. I am starting to believe it might be the worst question to ask them.
When a friend is going through a rough time, I ask this question.
When I see a neighbor and hear their story, this question soon follows.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe you’ve said it before too.
It seems nice.
I am sincere in my asking. But all of my sincerity doesn’t make this question any better.
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
I say this with the best of intentions. I want to help. I want to show love and be Christ. So why is this question so wrong?
Then I thought, lets flip this around. When I am in a tough season and life is busy or hard or I am hurting, and someone asks, “Is there anything I can do for you?” what is my answer?
“Uhh…Not that I can think of right now, but thank you for asking.”
I give the same answer that is almost always given to me.
Why is this question, filled with so many good intentions, not received? Why does this thought not lead to action?
And most importantly, how do we do better?
Because, maybe, like me, you really want to love and support and encourage and be the hands and feet of Christ.
I think the answer is found in Philippians 1:9-10.
I came across this in the Message Version a while back, and there was something in the wording that made me pause. It made me think on HOW I love.
Phil 1:9, Paul is saying his prayer for the church is "that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head...”
Love well. Yes!
But how do I do this? Maybe Jesus is reminding me that He gave me a brain, and its okay to use it. Ha!
But seriously, am I using my head?
The scripture goes on to say “and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent.”
Love well. Appropriately. Use your head. Be intelligent.
Why is “Is there anything I can do for you” such a weak question?
Maybe because we don’t have to use our head. We don’t have to be intelligent. We don’t have to know the person or have a relationship with the person. We can pat ourselves on the back for trying, but trying isn’t loving well.
I have a friend who recently went through surgery and she commented to me about how well she was loved through it. I asked her point blank: “What was the most helpful to you?”
It was the small group friend who called and said “I would like to come pick up your kids for a sleepover on Friday night.” It was the family friend who said, “I’m going to be in town next Thursday. If you leave the backdoor unlocked, I’ll throw your laundry loads in and come back later to fold. It was the friend who text, “Can I come sit with you this afternoon?”
What do these have in common? They are specific. They are thought out. They don’t put the pressure on the other person. They used their brains and then they did that thing.
I recently came across an excellent blog post by Kim at Given Breath, titled “This is How You Do Love.” (Y’all. Read this. It is so good.)
Here is a little snippet of what she wrote:
DON’T ask: “Do you need anything?” or “Is there anything I can do?”
DO ask yourself: “How might I show love in this particular situation?”
And then go do that.
Go and sit; even for a little while. Bring coffee. Bring a pillow or sweater. Send a card. Mow the grass. Take out the Monday trash. Water the plants. Feed the pets. Pick up the kids from school. Bring a smoothie. Bring underwear. You’re doing it! You’re doing love.
Her friend brought her underwear. HA! I love that.
I want to love well. And in order to love well, I must use my head. I need to be sincere and intelligent.
No more, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
But a whole lot more of me asking my brain, “What do I know about this person? How can I best show love?”
And then showing up with that kind of love.
The kind that loves well.