When Friends are like Family

When Dominic was born four years ago, we had different family members come through and stay with us over the course of the first six weeks of his life. We had meals provided by friends, co-workers and church family for the same amount of time.

When our second child, Charlotte, was born, my mom flew in a week after her birth, and stayed for a week.  The meals seemed to come out of the woodwork yet again.

As we started to prepare for the birth of our third child Devin, we began to realize that no family was lined up to visit after his birth. Thanks to a dear friend we had a few meals in the freezer but that was it.

Then we found out that Devin wasn’t cooperating and that a c-section was looking inevitable. Ironically, all the help and meals we received with the first two was feeling more desperately needed with our third child.

Thankfully we had already figured out where our children would be during our hospital stay, but now, with a c-section on the horizon, that meant an extended stay in the hospital, a more difficult physical recovery, and quite honestly a time of emotional recovery.

We had been given offers here and there to help and I know those offers were sincere but we failed to make those offers into plans.

So a few days before Christmas, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and started reaching out for help.

And just like that we had meals planned, gift cards provided, offers to clean our home, plans for play dates with the older children and fervent prayers being offered up. Through it all, I felt God whispering to me: “I am with you.”

When we made it home after Devin’s birth, we had meals waiting on us. Friends were checking in offering to pick up groceries and we actually took them up on it!  The kids had play dates to give mommy and daddy a break. One friend brought us tons of snacks for the kids! Another dear one, on her day off, brought us food, flowers, dessert and cleaned our house making us feel like royalty. And another dear friend came to my home on my first day by myself with all three children. She brought me coffee and lunch for everyone. She saw me in my sleep deprived stupor, still in my pjs…no shower and she helped me with the kids.

Wow.

The past month, no probably closer to 6-8 weeks has been a beautiful gift to our family and a wonderful lesson learned for me.

I don’t know why but it seems to be easier to help others than to ask for the same help. It’s not so simple to receive the help of others. Even when help is offered pride often gets in the way. Someone says to us, “I’d love to bring you a meal or come watch your kids. Just let me know when I can help”. But we never ask. We never follow up. We fear saying, “You know I really could use your help. Can you {fill in the blank}?”

Why? Why? Why?

In the body of Christ this should NEVER be the case. And yet it is.

We fear asking for help. We don’t want to appear weak.

But the first church wasn’t weak; it was very strong.

Acts 2:44-47 says:

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
46 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,
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

I remember nearly six years ago when Marshall and I first moved to Texas and found our forever home church: Legacy Church. A young couple had recently brought home their baby from the hospital. We didn’t know them. We didnt know much of anyone yet but somehow we ended up on the e-mail distribution list asking us to sign up to bring them a meal. So. We brought them a meal. Twice. Was it obligation? No! I can still remember being so excited thinking: “This is what the body of Christ is all about!!! It’s that Acts verse where we share everything and bear everyone’s burdens”.

Why, six years later,  was it so difficult to ask for help?To let the body of Christ BE the Body of Christ. To allow others the gift of joyous giving.

It was hard to send those emails and texts and have those “I don’t know what I’m going to do” conversations, but we did and the Church shone brightly in our lives. The gift of generosity gleamed ever so brightly in our family.

I don’t know why it is so hard to ask for help but I know God used our cicrumstances to humble us. Perhaps it is the firstborn in both Marshall and myself, or the ” I can take care of myself” self-sustaining culture of America. I know a lot of it is pride. It is probably all of the above.

Whatever the reason, God has brought me to a new place through the birth of our third child. It is NOT easy to ask for help, but now I know I should. I’m not done asking for help. I have three kids ranging in ages from 1 month to four years. I’m gonna need A LOT of help for a very long time!!

As I sit here, my heart is racing thinking about picking up my two older children from school this week. It’s less than a hundred feet from their classroom to the car but I’m gonna need help. For a multiplicity of reasons, I can’t do it on my own.

So on Tuesday afternoon I’ll take a deep breath, walk into the building with Devin in my arms and receive any help offered to get my kids to the car. And if no one offers, I’ll ask for help.

And I’ll keep asking for help.

Each time will require a deep breath and a reminder self-talk that we are all a part of the body of Christ and we need each other.

And when others need help??? Oh, the the renewed joy I will feel in bearing the burdens of a brother or sister in Christ!

I am so thankful that in our time of need, we asked for help, and our friends responded like family.

We are family after all!

 

Galatians 6:2: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Patty Parker

My name is Patty Parker. I write about finding beauty in the every day.

5 thoughts on “When Friends are like Family

  1. I’m so glad you reached out! It is so hard to ask; I still have a hard time doing so. And even when I do, I feel guilty the whole time. But I have to remind myself that if the situation were reversed, I would love to be helping them. So I swallow my pride. 🙂 I love how God provides in so many ways & how he truly can give us family in addition to our blood-family. 🙂 I can’t wait to visit!!

  2. We knew when we moved to Texas we wouldn’t be near family but I don’t think it ever really clicked how hard that would be once kids entered the picture. God has truly blessed us with friends many who feel like family, treat us and our children like family.
    I can’t wait for a Parker/Chowds reunion either : )

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I feel both your conflict in asking for help for myself as well as joy in giving help to others, so your blog truly struck a chord.
    Keep asking, sweet Patty. We’re here for you!

    1. Thank you Patsy! I’m so glad this spoke to you. You do so much for others. I pray I get the opportunity to bless you in some way as you’ve been such a blessing to the Parker’s!

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