How to care for others (according to The Gilmore Girls)

As it turns out, you watch a lot of TV while breastfeeding (or at least I do). Having always heard people rave about The Gilmore Girls, it's one of the series I've been making my way through during early mornings and late nights with my baby girl.

In Episode 10 of Season 1, Lorelai's dad lands in the hospital. She gets the news while she's at the local diner. Distraught, Lorelai attempts to leave the diner in order to drive to the hospital. Luke, the owner of the diner, stops her. He insists on driving Lorelai to the hospital despite her protests to the contrary.

In the days since I watched this episode, I've continued thinking about this scene and what it teaches us about how to care for people – something that I think is often difficult for us to do in today's fast-paced, largely disconnected society.

Like Luke, it's often easy for us to identify when someone needs help. Unlike Luke, instead of just meeting the needs we see, too often we make the mistake of asking people, “What can I do?” Far too often people's pride makes it difficult for them to admit to needing help.

Trust me, I know. 

Having just had a baby, I've been in desperate need of help. Yet, as a self-sufficient woman who doesn't want to depend on anyone, it's hard for me to admit that. So when people say, “How can I help?” I politely say I'm doing fine.

In contrast, when someone decides instead to just act, I'm always thankful. Not once have I turned down dinner when someone has either shown up at my door with it or texted me saying, “I've got dinner for you. When can I drop it off?” If you ask me if you can do my laundry, of course I'll say NO. But I'll also breathe a deep sigh of relief if I come downstairs to find clean clothes neatly piled on my bed.

Luke's actions in this episode of The Gilmore Girls also teaches us another important principle of helping others: Doing so often requires sacrifice. When Lorelai learns her dad is in the hospital, Luke's diner is full of paying customers. Yet, Luke understands that if he wants to help Lorelai, he can't wait until it's convenient for him. Instead, he's got to stop what he's doing and go. He does so even though the diner is full and leaving with Lorelai means angering his customers, or at least losing the income from their meal that night.

The same is true of us. If we want to help others, we can't wait until our calendar is clear. Instead, we've got to make time to do so immediately. We've got to stop what we're doing and GO – even though doing so might mean sacrificing something else that's important to us.

Of course, as this episode of The Gilmore Girls reminds us, when we stop asking questions and instead start sacrificially helping others, the deeper friendships we gain as a result will far outweigh the cost of any sacrifice we could make.  

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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