We don't have family in town. Some of you who have lots of stressful in-town family relationships may be thinking, "Lucky you!" And when I hear of people having to spend all day on Christmas visiting 17 different sets of parents, in-laws, step-in-laws, cousins, and step-neighbors-in-law, I realize that sometimes being separated from family makes things simpler!
But in general, it's really a bummer. I can't tell you how much I wish I could call up my mom and say, "I need a date night with The Engineer. Want to watch the kids?" (Or, "My kids are driving me nuts; can they come over so I can have an afternoon alone?") We are incredibly blessed to have various friends that are willing to watch our kids for us, but we don't want to take advantage of them by asking them all the time.
I'm doing a Bible study at church on Wednesday mornings, and as part of our discussion yesterday, I mentioned how easy it is to be discontent, not having family nearby. Later in the afternoon, I got an email from another of the women.
M. is pretty new to our city, and she and her family moved here to be close to relatives. But she shared with me that, for years, they'd lived far from family, and it was so hard for her. Then after she'd been kind enough to share her experience with me, she took it a step further. She wrote, "If you need a break, or need to run an errand, or you just need to say from one mom to another mom 'its a rough day...can you pray'...I'm here. Plus, I'm home during the day because of homeschooling so you are always more then welcome to drop Chickie or Zoodle off. Or even if you and The Engineer need to just take a break and grab something to eat so you can talk...I'd love to be that help."
With tears in my eyes, I wrote her back, thanking her, and assuring her I'll take her up on her offer.
Her gesture touched me deeply, because she didn't just listen to what I was saying. She didn't just empathize. She listened, empathized, and acted. A listening ear and comforting words are fantastic, but practical help adds unmistakable genuineness to someone's words!
Thank you, M. Since we moved to this city over nine years ago, so many people have acted as surrogate family members to us. I'm happy to be welcomed into your surrogate family too. And I hope next time I hear someone sharing a need, I can remember you, and put actions with my words too.