I opened my apartment door and my friend kicked off his shoes and walked straight to the kitchen table, collapsing in the closest chair. I hardly noticed him at first; I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off, shoving frozen fruit into the freezer, organizing protein bars and pasta sauce in their rightful place, sorting through bags of lettuce and kale when I suddenly saw the expression on his face. Something was up. He was quiet, face drawn, and slightly slumped over. Normal me would have made a snarky comment about his poor posture—teasing him like I always did—but something about tonight was different. I could tell there was something (a big something) on his mind.
“Are you okay?” I asked, and like a door opening to a waterfall, everything rushed out at once.
In the span of a week since I’d seen him last, so much had happened in his life—from family, to friends, to work, to purpose—he was overflowing with big questions, doubts, fears, and frustrations. And for the next three hours, while I scrambled around my kitchen making dinner, putting groceries away, cooking rice, prepping a few of the week’s meals, he talked everything through with me.
It was overwhelming.
It was not what I had planned on doing.
It was a lot to handle on a Monday night.
But it was incredibly humbling to know I could be there for him in a super difficult time, to know that I was the person he felt comfortable coming to, to know that I was doing so much just by being there. And he, without a doubt, would do the same for me.
Sometimes we just have to drop everything we’re doing and be there.
And don’t get me wrong, waking up this morning, I was exhausted from not getting to what I needed and little stressed from not checking items off my to-do list…yet I was also completely full. Because I knew I had really been there for him when he needed me.
This was a reminder of the power of human connection—how beautiful it is to both love, and know you’re loved by the people in your life.
Relationships are amazing. Honestly, this is the best part of being human—knowing that we have people we can lean on, learning what it means to support someone when they need us—these connections shape and drive our everyday lives.
And so I’m struck, this morning, by the power of relationships. By how much our lives are enriched when we take a step back from our own selfishness and pour ourselves into someone who is struggling. By how meaningful it is to know someone is there to listen to us, and that we can do the same service to them in their moments of need.
Last night wasn’t planned. My friend and I were going to do work-related stuff; we were going to talk, sure, but not on this deep of level. And yet, this unplanned moment is, and probably will always be, a defining moment in our friendship.
We had the ability to be completely vulnerable with one another and share things that were beating us up, stressing us out, controlling our perspectives—and how freeing is it to just release and let all that go to someone you trust?
In life, we often get wrapped up in what we’re doing. We each have our own problems, drama, busyness that we have to attend do, and we just unconsciously slip into selfishness, never thinking to check in, to reach out, to see how someone else is doing because we’re so overwhelmed in our own shoes.
But the moments we reach out—whether to check in on someone we care about, or to seek help of our own—change who we are as people. Because we’re not meant to go through this alone.
When we connect with other people, we are strengthened. We grow because we willingly choose to let someone else in. We grow because we learn that life is all about give and take; sometimes you have to be the one to listen, and sometimes you are the one who just needs to pour your heart out and have another person stand there and hold you in their arms.
So when people need you—be there. Answer your phone, open your door, give your shoulder, share your heart. And let others do that for you, too.
Featured Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao