If one of your friends was in a crisis or having a bad day, you'd want to be there for them. Lend a listening ear, offer some words of encouragement, see if there's anything they need. Right?
Of course, we all want to. But would you? Really?
Now before anyone gets all up-in-arms, let me explain why I've been thinking about this.
The other day, I received an email from a nice lady at my church. It was a "chain" email BUT it clearly designated itself from the very beginning (even the subject line explained what it was). It wasn't a joke or a recipe exchange or even that long chain email about cryptic posts to put on Facebook in honor of breast cancer awareness. No, this was simply and clearly, a bible verse exchange.
It was not long and complicated. There were just two names on the email, the person that sent it to me and one other person. All you had to do was send your favorite bible verse to the first person. Bump the second person up, add your name and forward it on. The point of it being, obviously, to offer some random encouragement to our friends and others that we don't even know. Receiving a bunch of encouraging bible verses in your inbox is a great way to feel better throughout your day or week.
So I immediately typed in one of my favorite verses that's been key this past week for me, hit send and forwarded the email to some friends. I purposely sent it to my Christian gal pals who I thought would be most likely to do it.
That was Thursday. How many bible verses have I received as of this afternoon? ZERO.
Now granted, I will admit there's a possibility of some people not checking their email often. But that is probably only the case for a couple people, if any, because we all know these days everyone is on their email 24/7. More likely, they saw it, glanced over it, decided they didn't have time for it and deleted it.
I understand not wanting to be involved in mass emails, being annoyed by emails with header after header on them because they've been forwarded so many times or emails that request that you do something time-consuming. But this one was clean and simple (no forwards because each person was to start a new email), everyone's email address was bcc'ed so no personal info was shared and it wasn't exactly labor intensive.
The entire thing took me FIVE minutes. The same amount of time you'd stand in line for a coffee at Starbucks. One-sixth of the time you spend watching a mindless sitcom on TV. The same amount of time it takes to play a round of Candy Crush Saga or take your turn on Words with Friends. To say you don't have time is well... not true.
But unfortunately, that's part of the mindset we're all in lately. We all want everything NOW, as fast as possible. We're being bombarded by so much every moment of our days, that we feel our time is precious. Doing one task at a time is a thing of the past. We surf the internet while we watch TV. We watch TV while we eat. We eat while we drive. We drive while we talk on the phone. And we talk on the phone while we... well, pretty much everything these days.
Our brains are on overdrive so we make decisions based on the amount of time and attention it will require. Line too long at the counter? We'll hit the drive-thru instead. Need to ask a friend a question but don't feel like hanging on the phone? We'll shoot a text instead. Internet moving too slow? We'll bang the desk and mumble a few choice words because we JUST CAN'T WAIT!
Sad thing is, when we really stop and think about how we spend our time, we might not be just as "busy" as we think we are. We say we're too busy to find time in our schedule to meet up with a friend or do something beneficial for others (or ourselves), but when we look closer... at least several hours were spent looking at social media, watching television and playing games. What could you do with that extra time in your day if you cut those things out? Hmm.
I've reached out to friends in the past when I was going through really difficult times and had one respond with a three word text (Yea, that's life.) and another tell me they couldn't meet up with me to talk because they wanted to be out and about somewhere instead (and I had to stay in because of money). Both were disappointing obviously, but I don't mention them to condemn them. I've been plenty guilty of it in the past too. Maybe not responding to a text or a call until I felt like I had the necessary energy "built up" to do so. Or said I'd pray for someone about a hardship they were having and then forgot to actually do it. But it's something I am intentionally choosing to be better about lately.
Which is why I didn't hesitate to do the bible verse exchange. It's why I write cards every month to people I don't even know who are battling cancer or have a loved one who is (and the handwritten note I received from one of the ladies who has since passed, saying my cards in her mail always helped to brighten her day, tells me it does make a difference). It's why I felt compelled to write this before I started working on my writing projects that actually provide a paycheck.
It doesn't have to be bible verses or greeting cards. Whatever you can do in your life, with your friends (or even better, people you don't know!). Write a note... pick up the phone... have a coffee... leave an inspirational post-it note... anything that might change someone else's day for the better and make them realize things aren't quite as bad as they thought.
Take the time. I promise, you have it.