For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Better Answer--Part 4, The Power of Practical Presence

Chief Bill Waybourn of Dalworthington Gardens Public Safety Department has a great grasp on grief and healing. In all honesty, he probably has the most solid understanding of grieving of anyone I've met, including counselors.

In one of our meetings, he and I discussed the reality that most folks don't know how to interact with people who have experienced a big loss. We talked about some things people said that were hurtful, some you've-got-to-be-kidding "counsel" folks gave, and just how much damage well-meaning people could do. And he asked me, "What if someone simply said, 'I love you. I'm praying for you'?"

I answered a bit more bluntly than I intended. I said, "I don't care, and I don't want to hear it. You want me to believe you actually care? Get off your Christian butt and show me. If all you can do is tell me you care, you don't really care that much, and your words mean nothing."

He nodded. "So how do you show someone you really do care?"

Excellent question.

Helping people falls into two realms: the mental/emotional realm and the physical or practical realm.

When people think of the mental/emotional realm, they usually think about Part 3's post: encouraging others through words whether they be verbal or written, and as I said, those are precious offerings of help and kindness.

The practical realm is what typically comes to mind when people think of helping a window or a single mom...and hopefully a widower or single dad. This realm includes handyman stuff like mowing the yard, trimming trees, fixing a broken pipe, or helping with computer issues among other things.

A lot of folks simply ask: "What can I do?" And they are sincere. However, it is hard to answer that. Honestly, we don't want to bother people. We feel so utterly needy, and we don't want to wear anyone out because who knows but we'll need something later, and we don't want to use up all our free help tokens on things we can handle.

Let me tell you something most people won't confess: There are things we have the knowledge to do and we even have the tools to do or know how to rent and use the tools to do them. The ability is there. However, after someone dies, we are simply so exhausted due to the constant need to breathe, the requirement of getting out of bed, trying to remember to eat, drats!, have to feed the kids too, and simply continuing to live that we can't think about fixing that leaky pipe or even calling a plumber. Easier to let it leak. We can't put enough thoughts together to get a ladder and a saw, climb on the roof, and cut away the limbs and then have to bundle them! Good heavens! Do you have any idea what kind of focus that takes when you aren't able to sleep, aren't eating well, and are simply trying to get through the day while convincing yourself there will come a day when it won't be this hard?!

The honest fact is sometimes we need someone to take care of us.

We need someone to step in and say, "Let me think this through for you. Let me go to the hardware store. Let me find the phone numbers. Let me set up your computer. Let me...take something off your plate so you can have a break."

I had no idea how exhausting it was to go on living after a spouse died until I was the one left living. Anyone who took anything so I didn't have to deal with it...or deal with it alone...was an angel of God in my eyes.

The list of possible ways to help is infinite, but let me share some things that blessed me deep.

Friends came over and trimmed the trees from my roof, fixed the drywall in the kids' bathroom, and spent time just listening to me talk.

Two different friends have helped me with computers. One researched Wonder Girl's computer, went with me to buy it, and then set it up for her. While we weren't home, he snuck in (with a key) and had it waiting for her when she got home from her birthday lunch. Another friend has worked on our computers, helped copy things over, taught me some basic things that I had never had to do before, and did troubleshooting over the phone to keep me from taking computers to the shop for help.

Friends of ours recently brought us dinner at the hospital while Wonder Girl sat in the ER waiting for the declaration of appendicitus over stomach virus. Another brought me my computer and charger as well as my phone charger, and he drove over again the next afternoon in rush hour traffic because WonderGirl could not get into my tall vehicle after surgery, but she could get in and out of his car just fine.

My cousin took the kids Christmas shopping for me last year.

Someone else replaced my handles in my shower to stop the annoying leak.

We received two full weeks of meals, and on the fourteenth day, the coordinator, brought a freezer full of meals for us to keep for when we needed them.

One of the biggest "small things" we received were gift cards. These still leave me...stunned?...overwhelmed? humbled. We received over $600 in restaurant gift cards. Easily half of that from people we didn't know. Some of the cards came in our mail with notes simply saying, "You are in my prayers." No name. No return address. Just dripping love and concern from people who had heard our story and wanted to do help. And no words will ever convey just how much their kindness did help.

I am sure if I held this post up a couple of days, I would think of even more people, and I mean no disrespect to anyone I did not include. On the contrary, I still thank God in Heaven for every one of those people and how they blessed us.

It is easy to tell someone you love them, that you are praying for them, that you trust God to take care of them. It is a wholly different thing to be God in the be the answer to a prayer.


  1. Thank you, God, for Your love for us and how it flows into Your people and from them to those who need Your real and personal touch in their lives! Yea, God!! xoxox