Tough times in life are inescapable. You’ll feel down, or sad, or perpetually confused, or fully heartbroken. You’ll think you’re at the bottom of the shitter, just a single flush away from going down the drain completely. Tears might flow. Shadows might consume you. And the feelings might wash in harder than a breaking wave.
And sometimes, the tough times won’t be yours at all. It’ll be happening to someone you love — a friend, a lover, a colleague, a family member. It’ll be their time of struggle, not yours. You might wish you could absorb it for them. You might wish you could change it. You’ll want to help them leave this painful stage of whatever it is they’re going through.
But you can’t.
You can, however, show up. With your presence, with your attention, and with your thoughtfulness. The gestures may be small, but the significance will be grand.
Show up. It’s so simple and yet can be so hard for us. Because we get consumed in our own worlds. Because we convince ourselves they’re fine. Because time just gets away from us. Because we don’t value the power of our little gestures. We don’t value the power of our presence. Or value our selves.
But we have to. We have to show up for the people that need us, without them telling us to. We have to take a chance in making ourselves vulnerable — with a hug, with a gift, with a phone call, with a message, with our presence that wasn’t requested.
When you do show up… and most especially when you’re with them…see them. Create space for their feelings. I know you’ll want to relate by making it about your experiences, but don’t. Let them talk and process. Listen and nod. Cry with them and be quiet with them. Show up, show up, show up, show up for them.
As my late Granddaddy said, “It’s enough for you to be here.” And so often that’s what the people who need us actually need — to just be here. To be there. In kindness, the little things will feel like big things to someone who desperately needs them.
So give more than you think is needed when the moments are hard. Trust me, it won’t require much.