When you face hard times, the question is inevitable. Friends and family want to do whatever they can to help you through.
But sometimes when you’re in the midst of surviving, the question, “How can I help?” creates more anxiety. The person asking has good intentions, but you may be too overwhelmed to formulate a response.
Having been through medical and caregiving struggles firsthand, I’ve been asked this question dozens of times.
While I haven’t always come up with a brilliant response in the moment, I’ve later thought of practical needs that would be helpful. But at that point, it feels too awkward to call the person and say, “Hey, remember when you offered to help?”
That got me thinking. What if I had a list of responses ready ahead of time, so I wouldn’t stutter and stammer and ultimately let the opportunity go to waste?
Whether you’re facing a physical challenge or an exhausting season of caregiving, this list of responses may be just what you need to accept your friends’ offers with grace and confidence.
What to Say
Start with, “Thanks for asking!” Then…
1. “I’m struggling to get dinner on the table for my family. Would you be willing to coordinate a meal schedule with our friends?”
2. “I’ve had a hard time staying hopeful. I would love your prayers.”
3. “My daughter has practice on Thursday night, but I can’t take her. Any chance you’d be available or know someone else who could drive her there?”
4. “I haven’t had the energy to clean my house lately. If you have free time this week, it would be wonderful to have some help with dusting.”
5. “I’ve been worried about my pets while I’m here at the hospital. Would you have time to check on them this week?”
6. “My husband is so busy helping take care of the kids, he hasn’t been able to keep up with yard work. Would your teenage son be available to pull weeds and mow the lawn?”
7. “It’s been really lonely sitting at the hospital with my son. Any chance you’d be free for a short visit?”
8. “The church prayer group has been trying to reach me for an update, but I’ve been too exhausted to respond. Could you contact the coordinator and let her know how I’m doing?”
9. “Honestly, what I need right now is a hug.”
10. “I ran out of bread, and I don’t have time to get to the store this week. If you’re headed out, would you be willing to get an extra loaf for me?”
11. “I’ve found that I’m really bored while I recover from surgery. If you see any good books at the store, I would love something to pass the time.”
12. “My daughter’s treatments are so expensive, it’s been hard to stay afloat. A friend set up a fundraiser online if you’d like to help that way.”
13. “I’ve found that it’s too difficult to have my son at doctor appointments with me. Are you able to be on call to watch him if I have a conflict?”
14. “My room has been really dreary lately. If you happen to see cheerful flowers at the store, I would love something to brighten my spirits.”
15. “I can’t think of anything right now, but could you check with me in a few days? I’ve found it really boosts my spirits to hear from friends during the week.”
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
It can be awkward to respond when someone offers help, but remember they’re asking because they care.
Always be gracious in your response and consider the context of your relationship with the person. You may feel comfortable asking your best friend to dust your house, but it may not be the right response for your child’s teacher.
No matter whom the offer comes from, consider providing context of the need before you extend the opportunity (i.e., “I’m struggling to get dinner on the table”). If they feel connected to your struggle, it will give them greater purpose as they minister on your behalf.
Most of all, remember that God has placed others in your life as a gift. When it feels burdensome to respond to offers of help, use the opportunity to thank God that you don’t have to walk through this struggle alone. When you feel tongue-tied or overwhelmed, ask Him for wisdom. He promises to give what you need, when you need it most.
Keep on keeping on, my friend.