How to help during hard times...
It's been a full year since all of this mess has started.
First, Papa Bear transferred to a new department. This meant a pay cut while training. This also meant that we'd get behind on the house payment. Then, we learn that pay cuts were in order in January. Not just pay cuts-HUGE pay cuts, like almost half of our income. Then out of the blue-he's fired.
A lot of family members stopped coming around.
One month later we had Ollie Bear.
Six months later, I am saying goodbye to the home I spent my wedding night in. The one I've brought four babies home to and three of them learned to walk in. I've had my worst and best days in that house.
Now here we are. Our second Christmas in the midst of this season. It's hard, harder than I'd admit because this season isn't supposed to be about stuff-oh but my head attempts to convince me otherwise.
"You can't afford any gifts!"
"You can't even send Christmas cards!"
"What are people going to say?"
"Oh how embarrassing is Christmas day going to be!"
"What will you tell your kids?"
These are the words that play around in my head. I know it's the enemy-but they're still pretty crappy blows to the pride-I-didn't-know-I-had.
Struggling with this, I confided in my wonderful IG following. I got a few "pep talks" that really helped put things into perspective.
"Your children are going to be strong, resourceful, compassionate and well-rounded because of these trials now. They are well loved, and love always wins!"
"You're a strong woman with an amazing family by your side, this is a bump in the road. It will end and when it does you will have the integrity and experience that many of us could only hope to emulate in similar situations."
"The Word says He who began this work in us will work to complete us until the day of the coming of Christ!"
This pep talk got me thinking of how blessed I have been during all of this. SO MANY have reached out to us during this time from all over the WORLD! It's been a truly humbling experience from all angles. It also got me thinking;
"I wonder how many women know how to respond when someone is going through financial hardships, or any hard times for that matter?"
Cause honestly-I've never known what to do. So here it is, being in the muck and being touched by so many-I'd like to share all of the things that have kept my head about water.
1. Prayer. Sounds SOOO obvious, but I have people who remind me daily that they are praying for me. Just to know that someone is taking time out of their day to talk to the Big Man about our family makes me teary eyed every.single.time. It's a special kind of love.
2. Checking in. Again, it's easy to feel forgotten when you can no longer afford to participate in any activities or meet up with anyone. Checking in and just asking how things are can really brighten things up.
3. Food. This is a big one. We went without being able to get groceries for quite some time, but we had some people cook for us, donate food, and even gift cards. This is a HUGE burden lifted-especially when you have kids.
4. Cards. We got a TON of cards when Geoffrey lost his job and when we had Ollie. I kept every single one and they are taped on my mirror. They constantly remind me that I'm not invisible and I have a bunch of people who love my family, even from afar!
5. Money. Now, this is being flat out honest. We've had a few surprise us and send us money and this has been the toughest to accept. In my heart I know that the Lord will multiply their gift-but again, pride gets in the way and sometimes humiliation can try to take away from the blessing. If you're able to do this and feel led to-do it. Even if the person insists that they're okay-listen to the Holy Spirit. There have been times that we had no idea how to get diapers for the week or gas, then BOOM, a gift card or check would arrive that would cover exactly what we needed.
6. Child care. Going through big changes like this can mentally take a toll. If you can take their kids off for an hour-offer it. As parents, we try to shield our kids from the pain we're feeling and it can get exhausting. Giving a little break can give time to recoup and readjust.
7. Time. If you have the time to stop by and chat-do that too. Face to face is a wondrous thing. Sometimes it means just being a physical shoulder to cry on. Sometimes it means bringing a movie, a bottle of wine, and some good jokes. If you're not in the area-phone calls are just as helpful.
7. Advice. Now, this can be a very thin line, but if they're going through financial hardships and you just happen to be a financial adviser-offer up some tips. Know they're looking for a job and you're in HR? Offer to look at their resume and give pointers. Been through a foreclosure? Offer something positive from your experience. It's so much easier to digest information from someone who has also "been there"
Now, these are all wonderful things that you can think and pray about doing for your friend, but there are some things that I would suggest NOT doing.
1. Ignoring them. Life is already hard. If them going through a rough patch makes you uncomfortable-you might need to examine yourself. Don't ostracize them-it sucks.
2. Fake kindness. It honestly comes off as pity and no one wants that. If you don't know what to say-then say that! Don't fake it-it's easy to tell.
3. Take offense or makes assumptions. Just because someone says, "I'm going through a lot" or "I hate we can't do Christmas this year," doesn't mean they're looking for a handout. I've said it to people honestly just wanting to be honest with them. I've never once used our position to try and get anything! I have chose to be transparent with our situation so we can have a testimony to share as well as others being able to see the Lord pick us up our of the pit (cause He IS going to, y'all!). I want everyone to see where we've been, where we are, and the moment those doors open to get our own place or a new job-I want people to say,
"Man! Look what God has done! I remember when they were..."
Being a blessing. Leave people better than you found them. EVERYONE can be going through a hard time at any given moment. Treat people the way you'd want to be treated!
Do you have any more advice I might have missed?
Ever been through a hardship and someone did something that made a big difference?
Posted by Dominique Burleson at 5:11:00 PM