Cue the song “Lean on Me.” (Yeah, I know it’s an oldie, but some songs never really get old.) We all want that kind of friend, right? And we want to be able to be that friend. Knowing that someone is going to be there for us, no matter what, gives us a little security when things go wrong, doesn’t it?
So what about when we have a friend who’s going through something? Maybe it’s a situation we’ve dealt with, or maybe it’s something we haven’t experienced ourselves. We want to be supportive. But what does that mean? Just saying, “I care what you’re going through” feels hollow. So what can we do?
First, go ahead and say that you care. A lot of times we won’t have an answer, but it always matters to us when a friend is having a hard time. So let’s tell them, because hopefully they know that, but it’s not the same as actually hearing it.
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17:17
That’s the thing about friends – true ones are the ones that are with you, no matter what. It doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you anything you do is okay.
A friend will call you out on your mistakes, but they’ll be standing right there with a hand out to help you up.Tweet
They don’t run away. You know you can count on them to be there. So let’s tell our friends that we care and we aren’t going anywhere.
Sometimes people need space, and that’s okay. If your friend needs it or you sense it, make sure and let them know that you’re going to be there when they’re ready. And then when they are, be there.
Show up for them. If they’re celebrating something, have a little party for them. If they’re grieving something or worried, be there for them. Take a card, a stuffed rabbit, a chocolate bar, a journal. It’s not about the gift. It’s about the fact that you thought about them and took the time to do something. They’ll remember this, trust me.
If they are in pain, don’t advise them not to cry.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15
We can’t, and shouldn’t, stay in our grief forever, but there is a time for it. And if it’s time for it, then don’t tell them not to cry. That’s like invalidating their emotions and response. People react differently to different situations. Some people don’t cry when deeply hurt, and others cry at something that may feel minor to someone else. That reaction isn’t a choice, but it doesn’t make it easier when someone implies you’re doing it wrong.
Go where they are and just sit next to them. Let them know they can tell you anything. Then listen.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Just being able to say out loud what has happened can make something feel less dreadful. If it’s a mistake your friend has made, then having you hear it and not abandon them shows them they can survive it. Describing a situation is sometimes enough to help a friend get a new perspective for themselves and decide what they should do.
So just be there.
There’s no such thing as “All I can do is pray.”
It’s, “There’s this really awesome thing I can do for you that will literally bring Heaven to your problem, and it’s pray.”Tweet
Don’t pray because you feel helpless. Pray because you know where to go for help.
You and I can’t fix every problem our friends will have. That’s the way it’s meant to be.
That’s God’s job.
We aren’t supposed to be God.
Sometimes we can help. Maybe we can give our friend a place to stay for a few days or help them find a counselor. But we can’t take away guilt or shorten grief. God can, though.
It’s not that God isn’t capable of acting without us praying, but sometimes He waits for us to ask Him and in a sense give Him permission to act in our lives. When we pray for ourselves or our friends, Jesus advocates for us.
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus – I Timothy 2:5
Jesus is waiting for us when we pray to go to God on our behalf. He literally pleads our case before God. How much more powerful a solution could we ask for?
If your friend asks for help, then try to do it. Of course, there are limits to what we’ll be able to do – we can’t undo something, take away consequences, or do anything that would cause us to sin, even though it may be tempting.
Advice isn’t always what someone needs, so do be judicious with sharing it. It can come across as judgmental or know-it-all, but sometimes we do have good insight. So if your friend asks or you do have something helpful to contribute, then share it. If there’s something practical you can do to ease what they’re going through, then try to.
Let Yourself Be Leaned On
Everybody’s turn comes. Maybe today your friend needs you, but you’ll need somebody too. So let’s be there for each other.
Be reasonable with yourself and what you’re capable of doing; we aren’t meant to solve all problems, even though a lot of times I wish we could. Know how much you can do, do it, and don’t expect more than that.
Can you think of a time somebody helped you and what made a difference? Or when you’ve been able to help a friend and did something they appreciated? Share your ideas in the comments! And while you’re here, how about subscribing to the newsletter? Click through here and you can get a download of 15 tips to help a friend on the way. Are you subscribed so that you get an update when there’s a new post? If not, you can do that below!
Until next time, blessings,