It Doesn’t Take Much

small things

It’s been 15 months since my husband was diagnosed with cancer. As word of his diagnosis spread to others, I’d get calls from friends that generally started with admissions of shock, then sympathy and promises of prayers.  And almost every conversation ended with these words, “Please let me know if there is anything I can do.”  They are words I have said myself so I know they were always offered in love but man, after awhile those words exhausted me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I needed, it’s just that it was really hard for me to ask for help. The truth is that we were not in the “thick of things” treatment-wise at that point so I was still perfectly able to take care of the everyday stuff of life despite the fact that I was a bit overwhelmed emotionally. I could still change the sheets, do the laundry, make meals, and buy Christmas presents (yep, it was Christmastime) but the truth is, I really didn’t WANT to do all those things. Although to be totally honest, other than the gift buying, I never REALLY want to do all those things. My friend told me I should make a list of the top ten things that needed to be done so that when someone offered I could just hand them the list. It was a good idea; I just never did it because the list would change daily and I didn’t have the energy to keep adjusting it.

But, there were a few friends who just did things. They didn’t ask; they just saw what needed to be done and did it. I will never forget the first time it snowed that winter. I was outside shoveling the snow (one thing I loathe doing) and our neighbor, who was also outside, came over and said, “I’ve got this Nancy, you go back inside.” I could barely thank him through the tears. And he didn’t just come once. He came EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. it snowed ALL. WINTER. LONG. And snow it did! We had nearly 70” of snow last winter starting in November and lasting through April. But our neighbor never missed a day. His kindness still overwhelms me.

I had another friend who sent me an email every day with a Bible verse. I’m sure it didn’t take her more than a couple of minutes but still I was blessed each day with a reminder of God’s unfailing love. I have since passed this “gift” onto others and have been told how much it blesses them, too. Such a simple little thing.

Other friends sent cards, brought meals, helped wrap Christmas gifts, or would regularly find us at church so they could pray for us. It really doesn’t take much to bless someone who is going through a hard time.

The other day I brought two single serving pouches of soup to a friend whose husband is in a long-term care facility. It has to be overwhelming to prepare meals for only one person day in and day out. I was making the soup anyway so other than taking the Ziplocs out of the drawer and labeling them, it didn’t really take any extra time at all. But the tears that welled up in her eyes when I showed up at her door told me that my one little gesture made a huge impact on her day.

Maybe you’re not into making soup, or shoveling driveways, but what little thing can you do that would make a difference in someone’s day? How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus to them? Need some ideas? I happen to have a few:

  • Call up your friend and tell her you’re coming over to get her sheets. Take them home, wash them, and put them back on the beds when you return them to your friend’s house.
  • If you’re going to the grocery store or pharmacy, call your friend to see if there is anything she needs and offer to pick it up for her. Don’t worry, she’ll be happy to pay for whatever you purchase.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • If she has kids, offer to take them for a few hours so she can rest or have a few minutes to run errands unhindered.
  • If it’s Christmastime offer to put up her tree, help her decorate the house, or wrap presents. Go back and help her take it all down, too.
  • If your friend is sitting with her spouse in the hospital, call her to see if she can take a break for coffee or lunch. She’ll appreciate the diversion.
  • Basically, think of the things you have to do every day to keep your household running and offer to do that for your friend. It doesn’t have to be big.

Whatever you do, your small gift of kindness will make a HUGE difference in someone’s day. And if we all do small things with great love, the world will be a little bit better.

8 comments on “It Doesn’t Take Much

  1. Gari Ann

    Dear Nancy,
    Thank you for today’s message and every Monday’s message. Each one inspires me to look at life through clearer eyes and to be a more gracious person. Keep writing!
    Gari Ann (Truscott)
    Your Mom’s friend

    1. Nancy Post author

      Thanks for reading, Gari Ann! I’m glad my blogs are inspiring for you. Blessings on your day!

  2. Ceil

    Hi Nancy! Oh my, what a stressful time for you! How is your husband now?
    I am living your situation, only backwards. I fell and broke my leg on New Years, and had surgery 1/7. My poor husband has to do so much for me, because I am non-weight bearing for another month.
    I have friends and family who also say “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Well, I guess I would do that, but that would force me to make the call, impose…it’s just not worth it.
    I had a friend drop over some soup, and let me tell you, I SO appreciated that. Great job on your part! As you said, it might seem small, but it means a TON to the person who is ill/disabled.
    So glad I dropped by from Sharon’s place. It’s nice to meet you!

    1. Nancy Post author

      Oh Ceil, I’m so sorry to hear about your leg. I hope lots of people show up with food! And really, it is okay to ask for help even though it’s hard. If someone says to you, “what can I do?” you should say, “We’d love a meal!” Your circumstances are much different than mine because I was still able to cook and clean. Hope you are better quickly!

  3. Lux Ganzon

    It is so heartwarming to read stories of kindness and paying it forward. :)
    You have been so blessed with such kind souls around you and it’s inspiring that you too share that kindness to those who are in need.

    I sure hope we become more sensitive to other people’s needs and automatically give what we can. You’re right, it does not take much, to show love, to make another person’s day, to help another soul, and eventually make the world a better place. :)

    May we never underestimate the power of random acts of kindness. Blessings!

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