December 2011 I was a part of something amazing. A blogger I love, Martini’s or Diaper Genies? (MODG), had gotten some ugly comments on her blog about how rich she must be. She responded with a very sarcastic post about how amazing she was and then asked for everyone to give their financial stats in the comments. The regular comments came, like, “I must be rich too since I eat ham.” But then a very different comment showed up.
A woman named Catherine commented and gave her actual financial situation. She and her husband were losing their jobs. They didn’t know how they were going to pay the bills let alone have anything under their tree for their young child to open Christmas morning.
And just like that hearts were softened and lives were changed.
MODG and her family helped Catherine, even though she wasn’t actually asking for help. It felt good. It felt right. So MODG came back to her blog and shared it with her readers and a movement happened. She called it WANA (We Are Not Assholes). She asked her readers to be honest and open. If you had a need, share it and let us help you. If you could help someone, comment on their need.
It was amazing. It exploded. So many people needed help and wanted to help that I can’t even share that blog post with you because it crashed the system and is lost forever.
People shared their stories. They shared their illnesses and job losses. They shared their fears of not knowing how they were going to feed their families or even put gas in their cars to get to their jobs that barely paid the bills. They shared their heartbreak that Christmas morning at their house Santa Claus wouldn’t be coming. They shared how their kids were old enough to understand how hard times were or young enough not to know there weren’t any presents where there should have been.
But if you are a mom or dad, you know that it doesn’t matter if your kids won’t know or will understand. You will know. And your heart will break. You will feel like you failed at something big.
Of course, Christmas is about so much more than presents under the tree. But that empty tree, or empty spot in the corner where the tree should have been but you couldn’t even afford one is just a glaring reminder that you failed your family.
It was a truly magically thing to be a part of, and I will never forget that Christmas.
WANA continued for the next two years. You can read MODG’s post for 2012 here.
In February 2014, MODG came to her readers again and told us she had to step back. As a mom, she just couldn’t blog anymore. It was too much. And as a mom, I completely understand where she was coming from. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be criticized for every choice you make for your kids by strangers.
Last week, MODG posted on her Facebook page that she still was unable to get back to the blog but wanted to have a place for WANA to continue. She made a post for it on Facebook. I clicked the button to get notifications whenever anyone posted on it.
And then I waited to see what would happen.
Later that afternoon someone finally posted on it. They had a need but would prefer private messages. And that’s when I realized this wasn’t going to work. When you post on ANYTHING on Facebook it shows up on the timeline of ALL your friends. It is hard enough to ask for help from strangers. How much harder when all your friends and family are going to see you asking for help?
I felt moved. I have this little place on the Internet that I can do whatever I want with. I felt called. I sent MODG an email sharing my thoughts with her and asking if I could run WANA through my blog. It felt so right.
And then I waited.
It’s been a week since she put the post on Facebook and I haven’t heard back from her. The last time I looked there were 15 comments on her post and no signs that anyone was helping fill those needs.
I completely understand that. Someone says they need help but can’t share that need in a public forum with all their personal information attached to it. And if you don’t know what the need is, how do you know if you can help? Do you send them a message and have them tell you their story? What if you can’t help then? “Sorry you just spilled your guts to me, but that’s not a need I can fill.” And then everyone feels bad?
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I have a deep faith. If you’ve been reading recently, you know I’ve been doing things recently that I feel God has called me to do even (or especially) that I don’t understand. This is one of those times. Maybe I can’t help everyone that has a need, but I can share my little piece of the Internet to connect people.
Because I never heard back from MODG, I don’t feel like I can use the term WANA. I’m calling this Hope For the Holidays. Because that’s what we are going to do here.
We all need hope, and when times are tough it’s really hard to find hope.
If times are tough for you and your family, I’m asking that you share your story with us here. Let us give you hope that things will get better and that people do care about you.
If times are good for you and your family, I’m asking that you help give hope to those who need it.
Giving always makes you feel good. And this time of year, more people are in the giving spirit. And there are great charities to give to. (We personally love Salvation Army and will be taking the boys to ring bells for them this year.)
As great as giving to a charity to help random people is, giving to a specific person to fill a specific need is amazing.
This is all going on faith. I have faith that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I have faith that people needing help will find this post. I have faith that people able to give help with find this post and be called to help where they can.
Some tips on making this work:
-When you post a comment, you do not have to use your full name (or even your real name) if you are wanting to remain anonymous.
-If you leave an email address so people can contact you, please leave it as name AT place DOT com so spammers are less likely to find you
-Please leave a real email address in the box for it when you comment. I am the only one who can see it and that way I will be able to contact you if I need to
-And I especially need you guys to share this post on social media. The only way for this to be successful is for people to know about it
Choose hope this holiday season. Let’s share Hope For the Holidays (no matter which ones you celebrate).
I choose hope.
It has been pointed out to me that my instructions may not be clear enough if you weren’t a part of the original movement. So I would like to clarify.
If you have a need:
Please share your story. Share as much as you feel comfortable with. This is important. People want to connect with you. Your story will touch hearts. Give us specific needs we can help with. It is also helpful if you leave your email address in your comment so people have a way to reach you.
If you can fill a need:
Please reply to the comment of the person you are wanting to help so we will know if the need has been met. It is then up to you and the person you are helping to connect so you can help them. If I need to be a go between, I can be, but it will be much simpler if you connect with each other.
When you leave a comment, the is a box to check if you want to get an email when there are new comments. I would suggest clicking this box so you will know when someone replies to you.
The best part of Hope For the Holidays and the only way it works is for us to connect with each other. Real people helping real people.
Thank you to everyone working to make this a hope filled holiday season.