We’ve all been sick. I mean, so sick you can’t bring yourself to hit pause on your Netflix binge and roll off the couch and into your car to go get medicine. I was there one time. I was sick and asked a “friend,” who seemed very dismissive, if he could bring me some medicine on his way home. I felt bad asking because I knew it would be a pain, but I also knew I would happily do the same if asked. I knew this friend had a busy evening. (Maybe I shouldn’t have asked….?) In the end, he said he was sorry but didn’t have time, that he was too busy. Then, I remembered a time when I was in the exact same boat – too busy getting things done, too busy to be a friend. Too busy rushing to get “important things” done and forgetting to be human.
When I was the Executive Director for our local Chamber of Commerce a couple years ago, the girl working as our Events Coordinator was super busy one day. We had an event coming up, and she had a seemingly-endless list of things to do. However, she wasn’t so busy she couldn’t take homemade chicken soup to a friend who was sick. When I heard her say (amidst her frantic flinging of papers and answering of emails) that she had to “get out of here, so she could take Sam his soup!” it shocked me to stillness. “Who the heck is worried about Sam right now?!” I thought, and then I realized how cruel and selfish I sounded. At that point, I longed for the emotion and ability not to get so swept up in my own life and goals that I couldn’t take time to care for my fellow man. At that moment, I realized I had way too much crap going on and, as a result, had morphed into someone I didn’t want to be.
My co-worker at the time (and long-time good friend), realized no matter how busy her life was, she had a responsibility (and a desire) to take care of friends, family, neighbors, and community members. It was admirable. It was exemplary. It was meritorious. It was not only something I wanted to do, but something I wanted to come naturally. I had become so busy in life that taking care of my fellow man was not a natural, everyday thought. How sad is that? That’s terrible! Of course, I was a caring person and everything I did was for the greater good of my community, but I didn’t stop throughout the course of the day for the little acts of kindness, the ones that might actually matter the most.
Several months later, I have re-evaluated my schedule enough to allow extra time for compassion and thoughtfulness to blossom. Unfortunately, now, in the past several months, I have been the one that is sick…. Here lately, I’ve had a cold I can’t get rid of, a sore throat, and just felt very sluggish. That’s okay because I’ve had several friends and neighbors come to my rescue bringing me tea, food, medicine, and compassion. Honestly, that has combated my sickness just as much as the Nyquil.
Coming off a time in my life where I felt a lot of turned, cold shoulders because of life decisions I had made, these friends and neighbors showed me they were in it with me. That is some of the best soul medicine you can ever have, and to your fellow man, that is some of the best love you can give. It only takes a second to make someone feel loved and important. That is more valuable (to the giver and the recipient) than checking anything off that massive “to do” list.
That’s the good stuff.
As my family, friends, and neighbors watched out for me during that bout of sickness, I couldn’t help but remember the one friend who didn’t have the time to help. It wasn’t his fault. I understood. It was just that moment in his life. I couldn’t be mad at him because I had been there. It wasn’t personal. It was innocent. But I learned from it, and I became a better person for realizing that in myself – realizing I needed to take time to be human. My co-worker at the Chamber shook that alive in me and because of that, I will be forever thankful to her. I hope my too-busy friend was, at some point, shaken like me. Goodness, I’m sure we all need it every now and again.
The other piece of the pie in helping our fellow man is keeping them on track, too. It is a sad thing when we simply get so busy we forget to be human. It is up to our fellow humans to hold us accountable, and visa versa. The next time you see a friend, family member, co-worker, or fellow human acting in a way you know isn’t them just because they’re under stress, call them out on it. It’s not being mean. It’s simply bringing a friend’s attention to the fact they’re not acting in the way they deem appropriate. I mean, who really wants to be a person who is so caught up in themselves or their goals that they don’t have time to think about others? Sometimes people need to be shaken, and I’m pretty sure most of them would be thankful for it, even if they have to let their egos heal a little first.
Nobody is ever too busy to care, and everyone needs to remember (and sometimes be reminded of) that.