What Can I Do? For Now, This Is My Something

Can I Ask You Something?

We chat outside her front door. It’s a normal Monday afternoon. She smiles and we make small talk until it’s time for me to move on to the next door.

But she asks me to hang back. She wants to ask me something.

I get nervous.

  • What if her ask is bigger than my give?
  • What if she needs something I don’t have?
  • Or if she asks for something I don’t want to give away?

It Turned Physical

We’ve known each other for a few years on a casual basis. Jenna and I stop by once a week to see if she and her husband would like a free meal off our cart. Sometimes we’ll swap a recipe. Or she has a gift she wants to give Jenna’s boy, my grandson.

It’s only been this year that we’ve swapped phone numbers. And she’s shared more of her life’s circumstances.

What now? I ask her what’s going on. She tells me there’s been a disagreement with a neighbor. Last night, it turned physical.

And now, after several years of living in the same apartment with no trouble, she and her husband are being evicted because of the fight with the neighbor.

My emotions go into high alert. I feel . . .

  • sad that my friend will be leaving,
  • angry at the neighbor for pushing her to the ground,
  • and still nervous about what she’s about to ask me next.

Now I Feel…

At last the question comes. She’s only asking if I know a place they can move to. I wish I did. I’d love to provide an answer, a solution. But I don’t have one.

Now I feel…helpless.

We talk a few more minutes. I offer what little encouragement I can. I tell her I believe her side of the story, that I can’t imagine her ever starting a fist fight. I tell her I’ll miss her when they leave.

She says she’ll give me their new address when they find a place. She’ll want updates and photos of my grandson so she can still see him grow up.

And then I walk away, feeling like I’ve done nothing. Sure, I’ll stay aware of housing options I might hear along the way. But that feels so small.

This Is My Something

Jenna and I finish our rounds at the apartment complex. We get back in the car. We haven’t even pulled out of the parking lot when my phone rings. It’s my friend. She says her husband wants to ask me something. I listen.

It’s the same request: do you know of anywhere we can live?

Again, I say I don’t know. I wish I did. I’ll let them know if I do.

And then we drive away.

I did nothing to help. All I did was listen. All I did was let them know I hurt, too. All I did was say I’d keep my ears open.

But maybe, for now, listening to someone’s pain in their own words, being a witness to the ache in their circumstance, is not nothing. It is something.

Just showing up alongside our friends, feeling emotions with them, and giving them our attention does count for something. I know it counts for a lot when someone does it for me.

I still wish I could offer my friend something more, such as an address for a new home to move to. But for now, I’ll just stand beside her once a week in her old home as long as she’s there.

It’s not much.

But for now, this is my something.

What is something I can do?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

revised from the archives

14 thoughts on “What Can I Do? For Now, This Is My Something

  1. Donna

    Lisa, I love this. I know that uncomfortable feeling of helplessness in the face of someone’s pain. Yet while we may not have the answer or solution to the problem of pain before us, we know the One who does.
    Showing up, and gifting someone our compassionate listening to their pain seems empty at times but offers a love few take the time to share.
    Thank you, my friend, for encouraging us to stand in that hard space and love even when we can fix the problem.

  2. Lynn

    Showing up for someone in need is the doing something. I agree with Donna. Thanks for encouraging us “to stand (with another who is) in that hard space.”

  3. CraftAtticResources

    Sometimes you aren’t the person with the solution but you can be open to listening and if possible asking others if they know of resources that you don’t know of in the area that can offer help.

    It is hard but sometimes we are asked to do hard things and sometimes we know we are not the ones called this time and if we push ourselves into a situation we aren’t called to answer we may just add ourselves to the people needing help.

  4. Linda Stoll

    Lisa, you have chosen to do life with the most amazing, fascinating people. My borders are enlarged as I learn from your encounters, conversations, and relationships. You make a difference everywhere you go. Thank you for inviting us along for the sometimes bumpy ride.

  5. Trudy

    Lisa, you have such a compassionate, caring heart. Yes, a person can feel so helpless when you can’t do more, but you do so much by showing up and listening to them and feeling with them. I love your sharing. Thank you. Love and blessings to you!

  6. Barbara Harper

    Thanks for sharing this, Lisa. I feel for your friend, and for you. It’s true, all we can do sometimes is listen and let people know we care. But if that’s all we can do, that’s all God expects. His provision for them will come in another way. But the gift of truly listening and caring helps as well.

  7. Jean Wise

    There is so much power in listening, being a friend and praying. Yet that feeling of helplessness overshadows their importance. You are a good friend.

  8. Lydia C. Lee

    Good for you. Can you put it up on your socials to see if anyone knows of a place? Ask freidns and family if anyone has anything to rent? It may not come to anything but you never know? #Anythinggoes

  9. Olivia

    It’s such a helpless feeling to be privy to such a circumstance and not be able to solve the problem. But listening does help. And being believed is everything.

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