What can I do?

I opened up an e-mail this week and read…


I’m gonna ask you a question and if you say “nothing” or a synonym, I will be angry with you.
What can I tangibly do to make you happier? I have no problem whatsoever driving to Indiana to get you drunk or polish your toenails or take you to a butterfly garden or sleep in sleeping bags on the floor while Elf plays in the background. What can I do? When can I come? Don’t say nothing.
Love you.”

What can I do?

Tonight I walked out the door with mango drippings on my shirt, carrying a basket full of enchiladas & cold glass bottles of Jarritos.  Because there is a lovable family twelve minutes up College Avenue that could use a night not having to worry about what to make for dinner.  They have more than enough going on, kids to love, schedules to coordinate, people to tell about Jesus.  … & so the loving-them tonight happened to be drenched in salsa verde.

And on my way home, I thought ‘I hope they feel loved from a simple dinner.’

And then a few minutes later, I wondered if they’d feel more loved if I fed them or if I prayed for them. I was darn sure they’d feel the love if it involved forks & napkins, but not all that sure that they’d know they were being cared for if that meant me talking to God about them.

Which would do more?

I haven’t answered that e-mail yet, that sweet, intentional, inquisitive e-mail… because I WANT someone to do something! I just don’t know how to ask! …I don’t even know if I’d know what to ask for.

I’ve asked for prayers, and I believe that sometimes people do pray.
And I believe that sometimes those sometimes prayers do something.

But I believe the doing does something too.  I just don’t know what needs done.

I could take a hug.  I could take a lot of hugs.  Hugs where I didn’t squirm away & the other arms wouldn’t let me.
I could take a Dark & Stormy in a hammock with someone swaying next to me.
I would happily let someone buy me a ticket to Epcot so I could get lost in a few different countries in one afternoon.

But, I don’t know, asking for prayers just seems easier.  I don’t want to put anyone out.  If I asked them to do something for me, then they’d have to do something for me!
Yikes. That makes me uncomfortable.

I want to do because then I can wrap my hands around a way to share love… but asking for the doing? Nope.

A fat, ugly, scarring weight that keeps us from knowing love.

Pride sits squarely down on our chest and says “Don’t ask.”
And then the enemy pipes up in the other ear with “You’re not worth the doing anyway.  You are not worth the loving.”

So, with both ears full… we keep our mouths shut.
Ears full. Mouth shut. Hands busy.

I have to keep doing to love well.  I have to keep doing because the doing is the secret to busy and busy is the secret to not being sad.
I have to keep doing because who would I be if I wasn’t?
Who would I be if I didn’t say yes to everything?
Who would we be if we watched someone hurting and we didn’t do something?

“DO” comes with a deep ditch on either side.  If we aren’t doing out of a right heart, doing out of love, doing out of the desire to serve… well then we’re either doing all that nothing out of selfishness or we are only doing it for the sake of doing, and then the heart of it all has fallen out of the action.

The expectation I have for what doing does doesn’t just affect my relationships with the neighbors, the church, the friends I never feel I’m doing enough for…The doing, the need for the doing, & all the squirming over the asking… well, I bet you & your tweed Sherlock Holmes cap need less than one guess to figure out the Who I’m thinking of.


As I sat in my car, well after I had turned it off on return from the enchilada run, I thought how much of my prayers revolve around action asking.

“God SAY!” “God PROVIDE!” “God HEAL!” “God MOVE!” “God HELP!” “God ANSWER!” “God COMFORT!” “GOD, DO!”

And how very few of my prayers resembled anything remotely close to “Be still and know that I am God.”


Well then neither one of us is doing much of anything.  I’m still and you’re You, and then what?

Damn it.

So, I hunkered down in my Mazda, squinted out the glare of the streetlights, cranked my seat back, & turned up the words of Jesus Culture & Hillsong & Bethel and pulled my knees up and let the heavy hot tears fall down the sides of my cheeks, letting them awkwardly pool in my ears.
I pushed my hands up against the grey felt of the ceiling and called out in broken sobs.

But I didn’t ask for anything.
I didn’t do much besides sing and sob and I’m-sure terrify any night joggers.

I sang about His holiness and His promises. I asked for safe space to speak to Him and then I lifted up my beloveds and their hearts, then I told him that I was mad for all He seemed to be not doing when it came to my brokenhearted repeat requests.And I begged for eyes that saw with eternity’s importance & I waved my hands against all that clouded.
And then, not asking out of anger and not not-asking out of pride I just asked that He’d answer with adventure.  with healing.  with Himself.

It’s okay to do.  It’s ok to ask for the doing.  It’s ok to do nothing when the doing takes place of the ‘being still & knowing.’

Does that resonate with you at all?
Is there a place you have a need… a need to be loved well?  a need to be heard?  a need to be healed? a need to be still?

What can I do?

One Response

  1. Oh, Kate… This is me you just wrote about… Needing so much help and never able to ask a soul because of the burden it would put on someone else. I feel invisible sometimes… Doesn’t anyone see I need help?? BUT if I were sent the same email, I am 100% sure that I too would be speechless and I would say, ‘I’m fine’. Thanks for sharing… I have some praying and thinking to do.

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