Let me know if you need anything.
A classic phrase we toss out like candy to anyone in the midst of hard times. The truth is, if anyone told us how badly they needed our help, a lot of people would happily answer the call. But how often does someone cash in on that offer?
When a person is in the midst of grief, loss, mental illness, or just hard times, they’re busy navigating their situation-not pondering what their friends can do for them. In my opinion, a lot of people are not going to ask for help.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t need it.
Everyone means well, but “Let me know if you need anything” pins the responsibility on the person already trying to navigate life in the midst of hardship.
I’m not hating-I say this too, and I only realized what was happening when I said this to friends of ours, who had just lost their newborn son. And I cringed as I hugged them with those words. They’re strong people, I knew they probably wouldn’t call me on their worst day. I knew there was a good chance they would have days when life felt like too much, days when they didn’t know what they needed and wouldn’t be able to articulate it to someone who so desperately wanted to be there for them. The more I considered this, the more I realized that it’s rare people come running to me with a “Hey, I need your help”(Even though I would literally drop everything to help anybody). Likewise, I’ve rarely asked for help when I could have used it.
So what are we supposed to do?
Just help. Even if you don’t know what someone needs, even if they’re not hurting- just show them some love. With a coffee, with a meal, with an “I’m thinking of you and I care about you” text. Share a funny memory, ASK to visit someone.
It’s easier to say yes to
“Can I come over?”
Than it is to say yes to
“Do you need me to come over?”
Just bring them dinner(someone did this for me recently and I’m still in awe of how God sent her with a meal the exact day I needed a hand).
Give them examples of ways you can help out, and put them one step closer to admitting what could be useful to them. “I know you’re going through a hard time and I’d be happy to bring over a meal, spend some time with you, watch your kids for a bit, help with chores around the house, etc” In verbalizing a specific willingness to assist, you make it easier for someone to say “YES! PLEASE! THANK YOU!”
In most cases, people will survive without you, they probably do not NEEEEED anything. That doesn’t mean showing someone a little love doesn’t prove helpful.
As someone who deals with depression on occasion, I’ve suffered through hard times with little help, because I’m never going to send out a “PLEASE SOMEONE JUST REMIND ME I’M LOVED”
Most of us are not going to beg for any sort of help-especially people who do not want to burden anyone else with their problems.
So, my thoughts…if someone seems like they need to be lifted up, and even if they don’t, just be kind, be thoughtful, give them more to work with than forcing them to make the first move. I think our responsibility as humans and as friends is to recognize when our cups are overflowing, and share with those around us, whether they ask or not. Don’t put the ball in the court of the hurting.
If you’re going to offer up “Let me know if you need anything” follow it up with an action that shows humanity you really do care. The more you do, the more people will know they can count on you-the more they’ll be able to understand you weren’t just handing out an obligatory phrase in the midst of their troubles. If God puts it on your heart to tell someone you’re available to them, you’ve got the ball; use it.