Episode 11: Thoughtfulness and Showing Up for PeopleMar 27, 2023
Welcome back to the Elevate Motherhood Podcast! As always, it’s a privilege that you’re listening to my words and I pray that they are a blessing to you!
So I have to admit I have tried to create this episode so many times. Honestly, it probably needs to become more than this one episode and I’ll expand on it in future episodes. I’ll start by giving you some background on how I make these episodes. Before I started this podcast when I was still wondering if I COULD make this podcast and if God for sure wanted me to make this podcast, I sat down and created a list of episode titles and outlines for some episodes and the list passed 50 episodes and I was like okay I need to do this. And I just add to those outlines as I go and think of things and once the outlines fill up I feel like the episode is ready to record and publish. And for some reason this episode has been at the front of the list for a long time but I keep feeling like it’s unfinished. And I never want to rush what God is doing just for my own timelines or anything so I just keep moving on and coming back to this episode.
And I know why because God keeps adding things to it! Thankfully. Because honestly, I know I have missed the mark a lot when it comes to being a thoughtful friend. I think that’s one of the reasons this episode kept getting pushed to the back, because I am thinking- who am I to talk about this? I am so far from an expert on this subject. But it does matter and I have been learning a lot lately on this subject. Like God does, when he’s teaching us something it just keeps showing up everywhere. Until God’s like- you got it? Are you listening? That’s how I feel about this. So I hope you guys will love this episode and that it will touch your heart like it has mine! I want this podcast to be efficient for you guys and to the point and more informative than conversational because that’s my personal preference for podcasts, but in this episode I am going to open up and do some more talking/explaining than usual! So bare with me and I hope it is still worth your time! I think it will be!
Last weekend, some of my college friends and I met at a lake house we rented for a couple of days. All of us that attended are moms and as some of you know, it’s hard to leave your kids. It’s either emotionally hard or it can also just be hard to coordinate the children’s schedules and childcare and all of that when you’re gone if you are the primary caregiver. But ALL of us were so glad we went. We all felt this overwhelming and comforting feeling of community, being seen, sharing burdens. We were blessed by preparing food for each other. We all felt like- oh yeah, this is how God intended friendship. Being there for each other and serving each other. We all needed the reminder and it was overwhelmingly positive for us. And I know we can’t just like leave our kids all the time. We cant always be physically together all the time. But that weekend reignited an urgency in me and my friends to keep showing up for each other. Even if that is voice texts and group texts or virtual bible studies or whatever. We don’t even all live near each other so that’s what it truly has to be in this season. But we re-confirmed the value of friendship. And it felt so good. So I want to encourage all of you to reach out to those friends you’ve had for a long time that maybe you don’t talk to as much. What can you do to reignite some old friendships that still matter to you? Can you set up some new rhythms that connect you to each other more regularly? Regular group text checkins one a week? Can you get a reunion on the calendar? Can you decide to meet via zoom the first Sunday evening of every month? Start a virtual or in-person bible study?
And… also I have been in a season of making NEW friends. I literally moved like 10 miles away several months ago but it was technically a move to a suburb of the city I had lived in for the previous 10 years. And something about the move just made me feel prompted by God to put myself out there to make more friends out of the strangers that I see day to day. Like I said, a lot of my college and high school friends don’t really live that near to me in proximity anymore. And honestly, it just became easy for me to stay at home more often than I should have. And I lived in a big city so it was kind of easy to just not be known, I didn’t always see the same people at the grocery stores or Target or restaurants or whatever. We did go to our same church but our church is actually in the city we live in now, so even the people at church weren’t people we ran into regularly. But I KNOW God calls us to fellowship. So it's something I have wanted to be better at and lately I have really been trying to put myself out there. Trying to make friends. Showing up to events that it would have been easier to skip. Showing up to things knowing I only really knew 1 or 2 people. Introducing myself to moms on the playground after my kids get out of school. I really felt and sometimes still feel like I’m a school girl myself when I try to meet new friends. It can be awkward sometimes but when you make new friends it feels so good! The more you talk to them the more things you have in common and the easier conversation becomes. So if any of you are listening- THANK YOU for becoming my new friends. I genuinely want to be a good friend to the people I’m around in life. And I’m trying to keep doing even better at it. I feel really just so grateful for some of the friends I have made in the past several months.
And I’ll tell you- what a difference it makes when people make that friend-making process easier, right? When a friend says, hey Courtney! Do you know my friend Ashley? We were just talking about signing our kids up for soccer! And includes me in the conversation. It just is so kind. Some people are just gifted at connecting people. And it is SUCH A GIFT to the people around them. If you are like that naturally or even by choice- thank you! On behalf of everyone around you! It’s so kind. And It’s something I want to be better at myself.
A couple of weeks ago at church, my pastor delivered a message on loneliness and I knew I needed to add some of that message to this episode.
I attend Life.Church and my pastor is Craig Groeschel and his father passed away the previous week. He mentioned that he received like an incredible amount -like thousands of condolences and prayers through messages and comments on social media, he got tons of emails, and something like 6 people sent flowers and 5 people called on the phone. And he had ONE friend besides family show up at his house and ring the doorbell to give him a hug and offer condolences. He said it almost felt weird that someone showed up but then when his friend was still hugging him after they stopped crying, he felt overwhelmingly grateful for that friend.
Gosh that makes me emotional again even remembering it.
But Pastor Craig’s sermon was about how we are actually not created to be lonely, but that a huge number of us feel lonely. He mentioned Acts 2:46-47 that says
"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
He mentioned several verses in the Bible where we are instructed to serve one another, show hospitality to each other, be kind, encourage one another, carry one another’s burdens. He talked about how the ways of our culture now are pretty opposite from that, we all want to be independent, not need anyone’s help, work from home, watch church from home, get groceries delivered, do online banking, online doctor’s appointments, and all of those things CAN be good, but those things can also negatively affect our mental health and rob us from the real joy and lasting fulfillment of being in community with real people who live by us and are around us. It was such a good sermon so I’ll link to it in the show notes for you.
But it's so true. Through our screens, we do have relationships and friends and I love social media for those reasons. It helps me remember things about friends and learn more about what I have in common with friends and lots of good things.
But the value of truly showing up for someone shouldn’t become a lost art.
There’s a quote I heard a long time ago that says “you can pretend to care but you can’t pretend to show up.” And I know our lives are busy and I believe its okay to have lots of friends that we truly don’t have time to see all of them every day or even super regularly. But that sermon made me realize how valuable it is to have friends that really show up in life. And that I need to do better to show up for other people, like really showing up. Even if that just means being a little bit more friendly, referring to them by name, asking one more question, offering to help hold a bag, including someone in a conversation with other people, inviting someone to a playdate even though your house isn’t perfect, those kinds of things. None of those things are even gifts. And all of those are fellowship, community, showing up for people. When I take personality tests, I am always right between introvert and extrovert. So this kind of stuff honestly does not come naturally for me. I really love people and want to be friends with everyone and be an "includer" and I do feel filled-up by being around people, but like the extroversion required is sometimes unnatural for me. So I’m just saying that because this episode is teaching me things too. I’m really going to try to show up for people in different and more thoughtful ways!
I love the phrase/verse “blessed to be a blessing” it’s from Genesis 12 where God tells Abraham is is blessed so that he will be a blessing to all. And that phrase blessed to be a blessing is part of my kids’ affirmations that we say regularly. It’s one of my prayers for my family. That we ARE part of God’s blessings for the people we encounter and spend our lives with.
You guys know I love efficiency, automation, trying to make the things we do day to day as simple as possible. Making space and time for what matters most. Hopefully you heard my Podcast Episode #9 - Let it be Easy- Reducing Decision Fatigue. But there we talk about the idea of automating some things that are either stressful or redundant to save up some brain space for the things that matter most. So today we are applying it here to the idea of thoughtfulness. I don’t want this to come across as impersonal as it relates to the idea of gifts, I still think when the opportunity arises and we think of something more thoughtful or more specific for that person, of course we are going to do that. This is just a baseline like at the bare minimum I’ve already decided this is what I’m going to do when a situation arises. I’ve already decided to show up for a friend in at least this one way without over-thinking it to the point of not doing anything.
I shared the idea for this episode on my Instagram several weeks ago and asked for ideas on how to be more thoughtful as a friend. And I asked what your ideas are for common situations that occur in life when it makes sense to get a gift or do something thoughtful to show up for a friend- situations like- someone gets engaged, your friend has a baby, a friend has a family member pass away, stuff like that. When you want to DO or GIVE something. And I got SO many great responses. Actually way more than I expected So thank you guys for responding! But I just still didn’t feel like the episode was ready to share. I didn’t want anyone to think that giving gifts is like required to be a thoughtful friend. I really don’t believe it takes money or gifts to be a thoughtful friend. And I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought that or cause anyone to believe that for themselves. But I did get so many fun ideas that I wanted to share.
I’ve shared a list of the specific scenarios in this blog post and I’ll share the common responses I got and links to some of the specific items that were recommended. There are a ton of ideas for you to be inspired by and pull from if you’re interested in having a decide once approach to this area of your life.
But quickly, there are some easy ideas that apply to almost every situation.
- An appropriate and thoughtful response to so many parts of life with friends would be a thoughtful note, thoughtful text, a voice text is a good thing to sound a little more personal with your voice but also gives the other person the chance to listen or respond when they have time, you can call and leave a voicemail if they don’t answer.
- Including your kids is fun too, let them draw or put stickers on the handwritten notes, record a little video of them saying congratulations! Or singing happy birthday.
- And when you call them you can ask if you can pray for them right then. Or send a prayer in a text. That means more than just saying “I’m praying for you.”
- I think even being honest and saying to someone- I don’t really know what to say in this situation, but know I’m praying for you and love you and am here for you, is better than not saying something because you don’t know what to say, you know what I mean.
- Sending flowers is almost always appropriate and thoughtful, some people mentioned orchids being especially good to receive because they last longer than other flowers.
- Most people would use and love a gift card to a coffee shop.
- Even using Venmo or apple pay to send $5 with a note that says coffee on me today, sending $20 for the new journal or book or socks or lipstick you’ve been wanting but haven’t purchased yet, $15 for vending machine snacks at the hospital, or buy yourself some flowers next time you’re at the grocery store.
- There are also companies like spoonful of comfort where they can delivery gift baskets for a variety of reasons. Or there are local companies that do things like this too!
- If you have memberships for Instacart or Shipt or a delivery service like that, you can use that service but change the delivery address to your friends address.
Maybe some of these things seem impersonal, but aren’t they more personal than NOT doing something? Sometimes technology and ease can work to our advantage, and that’s okay.
Mealtrain.com is a free website that my friends and I love to use when someone has a baby or even when someone has a family member pass away, or a major surgery, or things like that. One person organizes it and everyone can use the website to sign up for different dates to provide a meal. The organizer can include specific notes like- remember this family is gluten free, or the family prefers porch drop offs at this time, or please remember not to stay longer than 15 minutes to respect their family time, or remember grandma is staying with the family right now so please plan to provide a meal for 3 adults and 2 kids, or anything like that. It takes the burden of communicating some of those things off of the person receiving the help. It also can be a helpful scheduler so not everyone shows up on the same date and the coordinating doesn’t get overwhelming for the person we are trying to bless with meals.
I also buy cards in bulk for the purpose of thoughtfulness. Target has these blank white cards that have a sparkly gold heart on them and I literally use them for EVERYTHING. I keep them in my car. It is so easy to just scribble out a thank you note, or use it as a baby shower card when you forgot to buy one, just anything. And I buy on amazon bulk “thank you” cards and “happy birthday” cards. If you love picking out specific cards for people on those occasions, just keep doing your thing! That’s amazing! But if you frequently forget, or just quickly grab one before each event without feeling personal about it even when they are $6 each … I think I can make this easier for you. Just buy them in bulk, they are so much cheaper, and you will always have one when you need it. What you write inside the card can be more personal and special anyway even if the outside of the card is generic!
So if you want some specific ideas of ways to be thoughtful or specific gifts to “decide once” to be your automation unless you think of something better, CLICK HERE. I got some really great ideas for you guys and I think it will be worth checking out if you’re interested! Some of the scenarios mentioned are:
I hope I have inspired you to really show up for people. With or without gifts. Let people know you care about them, include them, offer a hug, send a meal, send a text, invite someone, include someone, and when you can, let your presence be the best present, as they say. Reach out to someone.
Tell the enemy to cut it out and get beneath your feet with the lies that are so loud in isolation. Proclaim the name of Jesus over your life, act like him, serve like him, be a friend. Pray about it! Ask God to help you find the people who want to be your friend too. I promise they are out there. They are probably praying to find you, too!
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