“It’s only 10:30 AM and I’ve already had a meltdown today.”
That was the text I got from a friend.
I already knew life had been overwhelming for her the last few months due to a variety of life-events, one on top of the other.
I texted back, “I can come over and help you right now.”
She had some appointments to get to, so it was decided to meet up in a few hours.
I pushed a little, knowing her desperate state. “I’m happy to come while you’re gone and get started…”
But she declined, saying… get this…
“I’m a little ashamed and a lot embarrassed. I’m going to have to open up and let you see behind the curtain.”
My next thought was immediate. “I can use the extra time to make dinner for her family.”
I love it when the Holy Spirit speaks to us, giving us specific ideas, leading us this way or that. Ideas that weren’t there until that very moment needed.
I’ve learned to trust that these promptings are from Him and to be obedient to them.
And, quite honestly, it’s really a delight to my soul to do this. I realize He knows the needs, and I love being a part of the process of meeting needs.
When I arrived, we sat for a while, talking and hearing about the pressures at hand. Then we got to work, cleaning and organizing, putting things away. I helped her think through the purpose of each room and how to best organize or display things for each room’s intended functionality.
But, today’s message isn’t about cleaning or organizing…
It’s about friendship.
And the need for women to be vulnerable…
To let each other see behind the curtain.
She and I have a very safe friendship… and with each “secret shared,” landing on safe soil, it grows deeper.
I’d like to use this experience to share with you some thoughts to help you in cultivating intimate friendships:
1) She had to take a risk, to be willing to be vulnerable, to let me see struggles.
2) I needed to be a safe place, accepting her as she is, without judgment, completely realizing I have my own struggles.
3) I needed to respond. As soon as a specific idea comes to mind, I need to GO (and do) rather than say, “Let me know if I can help.” Please get this… Women want help! But if your kind offer requires them being the asker, it ain’t happenin’.
4) I needed to trust that the Lord would fully equip me to do the ideas He put on my heart. This is only accomplished when our mind is off of self and abiding in Him with the focus on the other person. Do these wrong-thoughts sound familiar? “Will I actually be helpful? Will I be in the way? Will I embarrass her? I don’t know how to help.” (me, me, me)
5) She had to receive. She had to let me help, to welcome thoughts, suggestions, or at least allow me to lighten her load without feeling ashamed or apologetic.
6) I needed to be sensitive in recognizing what the situation called for. Productivity or pausing to sit and listen. People over things. Always remember that.
7) I needed to be a safe friend who keeps confidences – with her having no doubts, not wondering if I will go and tell anyone of her insecurities or weaknesses. None of this, “Hey, I just helped X clean her house…” That comes across either as a cut to her or as bragging rights for me. That’s not a trustworthy bond.
The incredible thing is that I LOVED HELPING HER. It was such a blessing to me. I’m glad she let me see behind the curtain and allowed me into her heart.
This friend okayed this blog post. Why?
Because we both want women to experience the freedom and deeper friendships that result from opening the curtain, being vulnerable, and letting in friends.
Does this picture take your breath away? Clutter can do that.
Clutter can bring us to the edge and paralyze us from doing the most mundane of tasks.
Do you let people in? Or do you want to appear to have it all together?
Why not look for a person gifted in the area in which you are weak…a safe person – one whom you know to be non-judgmental, confidential, and whose heart you safely trust. You can begin the process of opening the curtain, letting your wall down, sharing a secret (about you, not about someone else), and in so doing, have the beginning steps towards a beautiful, safe, deep friendship.
I’d love to read your thoughts on a safe friendship you have or a specific example of how you let someone in, opening the curtain to the struggles you have, and allowing someone to help.
Rhonda it’ssofreeingtoNOThavetobegoodateverything ellis
After just sitting down from cleaning & preparing meals & taking care of bills & checking school work & doing some laundry & making lunch & listening to home health nurse’s directions & tending to hubby’s post surgery recooperation needs & running errands-all before sitting down to this article. I feel this way today. Overwhelmed. Its nice to know vulnerability is O.K. @;D
What a blessing to have friends who you can share whatever your needs may be with absolutely no judgement just a heart to help in any way they can!!! And another strong lesson is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and move when He says GO!!!! LOVEIT!!!!
Joann, praying for your husband and his recovery now. Thanks for sharing with us some of the things on the mind and TO DO list of a post-op wife.
THANK YOU so much for this post. I am a widow of almost a year, with 2 small children. I am doing the job of two parents now and I put up a curtain all the time. I don’t want people to know that I feel overwhelmed. Like I can’t handle things. But every once in awhile, it sure is nice to have help and a wonderful friend, to just sit and talk with. And especially not pass judgment.
Becky, thank you for sharing. You give insight to all who read this, allowing us a glimpse into the heart and hurts of widows (and all of us, really). May we all be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and GO… and sit and listen… or help as needed, to breathe encouragement and life into others. And, for those in the majority, like you, who have trouble opening the curtain and being transparent, I pray you will experience more and more, with greater ease, the freedom and joy that comes from being real and receiving help. 🙂 Praying for you now.
My friend, a widow of three years, raising seven children has recently started a blog that will be an encouragement to you and so many (including me!!) http://lisaappelo.com/
Thank you! This is so hard sometimes. I recently fell and injured my wrist and was on the receiving end of the help…and I did ask, because I needed it. So much different when you are the one who gives rides, helps others, etc., and then you can’t do for your family. I really appreciated those who helped us during that week, and my family who has helped with the other things I can’t do with only one hand. Hopefully in another few weeks I’ll be back to normal, but until then, I will accept the help that I receive.
I would love to help. I think is hard to open the courtains but sometimes is necessary. Friends are there to give a hand.
You used the perfect word, paralyze. It is amazing how powerful clutter can be…how it can be so overwhelming. Our society and media has given us this false reality of how our homes should be…impossible to live in, especially with children. You must have been such a blessing to your friend and you continue to be a blessing to others by sharing this post. Thank you for it!
Lyn, it truly is a blessing to help out someone struggling in an area. I’m thankful for those specific times that the Lord prompts our heart to see needs and help. I’ve been on the receiving end of this as well – when someone simply picks up the phone to check on me, writes a sweet note, or brings by a treat just because they were thinking of me… and it seems to always be at a time when it was of great encouragement. 🙂
This is so helpful to see. I love your “tips” on organization and can so relate to feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed!! Keep writing!!
I’ve always said that friends with messes make better friends than those who’s homes are perfect. We all get overwhelmed and need help at time. God put us together for community and gifted us differently to be able to help one another. While one might know English Lit front and back, another might love throwing stuff away. Be a friend. Give of your talents!
Love ya girl