Please Make the List

hurricane harveyToday I saw a Facebook post from a friend who shared the idea of having those affected by the hurricane and flood make a gift registry or Amazon wishlist to let people know what they needed. The immediate response from many of those in need was, “I feel selfish making a list of things I want people to buy for me.” I responded on the thread, but it was important enough to me that I wanted to make a separate post to just say this: Please make the list.

Y’all, I’ve been there. I’m a single mom of 5. My ex-husband went to prison when I had a newborn, 1 year old twins, a 2 year old, and an 8 year old, and at the time I was a stay at home mom with no source of income, a mortgage, a car payment, and tons of other bills – all in my name – to pay. I lost everything and had to move back home with my mom. My car wasn’t big enough to fit all of my children inside, so I was basically homebound for the first several months until my stepdad traded in my beloved Ford Edge for a minivan and financed the difference between the two. Please believe me when I say that I know what it feels like to need things and to HATE with every fiber of your being that you cannot provide those things for your family on your own. I learned – and continue to learn – a hard, hard lesson that feels counterintuitive, but is actually true, and that is that interdependence is greater than independence. This is important, y’all. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: interdependence is greater than independence.

Independence is awesome. Being able to provide everything you need for yourself is ideal. But, the truth is, we were never meant to do it all on our own. We’ve always been designed to be social animals, to interact with each other, and to depend upon each other. One of the most beautiful things you can give someone else is your vulnerability. Vulnerability is the glue that binds us to each other and turns acquaintances into friendships. And it takes a lot of vulnerability to put an actual list of things you cannot provide for yourself out there and ask for help.

I’ve had a rough few years. Caring for 5 young children on my own has been the hardest challenge of my life. There have been times when I’ve wondered if I might *actually* die from the stress and physical and emotional exhaustion I experienced. I have a little Facebook group that is filled with my very best friends, and at one point when I was having a particularly difficult time, my friends basically staged an intervention. They stepped in and said, “we need you to make an Amazon wishlist and fill it with things that you need in order to function.” I didn’t want to do it. I balked at it and then felt guilty for putting things on the list that I needed. I didn’t make the list public. But, then my very wise friend put out a call in our little Facebook group asking for everyone to post their Amazon wishlists “just in case,” so that if someone was having a hard time, we could go to the list and easily grab them a little something that we knew they wanted/needed, and send it to let them know we were thinking about them. I knew everyone else was posting their list just so that I wouldn’t feel like the group’s BHON (Black Hole of Need), but their willingness to be vulnerable with me allowed me to feel ok about being vulnerable with them.

I posted the list.

I will be forever grateful that I did, and that my friends answered my unvoiced call for help by asking me to post that list. My friends saved me when I needed them, and if you are one of those who is suffering as a result of Hurricane Harvey, you deserve friends like mine to help you through this. Here in Texas, I’ve realized that there are friends everywhere that maybe you don’t even know. Because here’s the thing: people want to help. They want to help YOU…not just to throw money at the general problem, but to help specific people in tangible, meaningful ways. It feels good to know that your contribution is going TO someone specific and fills a need they actually have. I know how uncomfortable it is to put that list out there in public, knowing that people may judge you for it. BUT, I also know what it feels like to be vulnerable and accept the help that is offered. It was a lesson I needed to learn – that in some seasons of our lives we will be blessed with abundance and will be able to bless the lives of others through giving; in other seasons, it will be our turn to receive gifts and allow others the blessings that come from giving. Don’t deny others the blessing of being the giver just because it’s not your turn. Remember that interdependence is greater than independence. Vulnerability creates connection. You’ll have your chance to pay it forward. But, today, please make the list.