Help for my Friend

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Don’t

  • Say, “Call me if you need anything.” Instead, pick something you are willing to do and then ask permission
  • Say, “I know how you feel”, unless you have truly walked in their shoes. Also, remember that every situation is different and don’t try to compare your struggles to theirs
  • Say, “You look great!” Even if they do, it invalidates the pain
  • Visit if you are sick or have symptoms of getting sick
  • Overextend your visit and know when to excuse yourself
  • Reassure someone that God will heal all illnesses if one has enough faith or say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
  • Try to figure out God for them
  • Be negative or overly emotional
  • Make a person into a project
  • Let your fear of not knowing what to say prevent you from reaching out

Do

  • Pray before you visit
  • Call before you visit
  • Respect their need for privacy and personal space
  • Do hold yourself together and be positive
  • Understand the difference between empathy and sympathy
  • Just listen…until it hurts to not say anything…and then listen some more
  • Instead of saying, “I will pray for you”, say, I’d like to pray with you right now if that’s okay.” Ask for specific prayer requests and respect those request
  • Talk about normal everyday things- not just their circumstances
  • Remember that a short-lived crisis usually has more immediate support. A long-lived crisis tends to be forgotten
  • Consider yourself a friend for the journey- not a savior or a doctor

Before speaking, ask yourself:

  • T- is it true?
  • H- is it helpful?
  • I-is it inspiring?
  • N-is it necessary?
  • K-is it kind?

Ideas for being helpful:

  • Run errands
  • Yard work
  • Help with laundry
  • Cleaning
  • Help with child care or provide an activity for the children
  • Prepare a meal
  • Remember breakfast, lunch and snack items that tend to be overlooked
  • Stock the fridge and freezer with meals that are labeled and have easy to follow directions attached
  • Gift certificates to fast food restaurants for a quick meal
  • A quick email or phone call or a card to let them know that you are thinking of them
  • Scripture cards, devotionals
  • Journal with a new pen
  • Volunteer to sit with the patient so the caregiver can go home to shower, grab something to eat, get some rest, etc…
  • Provide a hospital “survival bag” for extended stays- note cards, stamps, quarters, gum, chap stick, Tylenol, lotion, bath soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, magazines, books, books on tape, praise CD, phone cards
  • Soft blankets and/or socks are comforting gifts

Encouraging Scripture:

  • Romans 1:12- “That you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
  • Colossians 4:6- “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
  • Matthew 25: 40- “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
  • 1 Thess. 5:11-“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
  • Eccles. 4:9-10- “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls down and has no one to help him up!”
  • James 2:16- “If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed’, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”
  • Job 2:11-13- “When Job’s three friends heard about all his troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”
  • Proverbs 11:25- “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
  • Galations 6:10- “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
  • 1 John 3:17-18- “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

We are all gulity of feeling like we need to quote scripture to a friend who is hurting. The most powerful verse can be cited carelessly or prematurely.Think of God’s truths like tools. Don’t use a hammer when you need a wrench. And don’t use either when you need to give someone a hug, a blanket, or a meal—or just weep with them.