It's so hard to see friends struggling. Sometimes it's financial problems, sometimes it's troubles with their child, sometimes it's emotional struggles, sometimes it's a combination. It's hard to watch and feel helpless as to what to do.
Knowing what to say and when to say it to someone going through a difficult time is TOUGH! I care about my friends and I want to support them...but I don't want to be pushy either(which is something I've had to learn the hard way!) I cannot solve their problems. I cannot take away all their bad feelings and make it all ok. I cannot take on their problems so much that it affects the way I function and zaps my emotional reserves so that I can't take care of my own family. It's a balance that I really struggled with in the past.
I'm better with it now but sometimes I still have to remind myself that I can only do my part in difficult situations. Figuring out my part can be a challenge!
I find that when I pray about what I should do, things turn out much better. What I think people might need isn't necessarily what they truly need. Sometimes I try to give them what I needed when facing a similar situation, but that never helps them or fills the leftover emptiness in me! Things always run more smoothly when I do my part and let God do His!(Again, a lesson I often learn the hard way!)
That's hard because often that means praying for them and being open for those opportunities to be a comfort and support in God's time, not our time. Sometimes, difficult situations don't have a quick fix. In those times, I really have to remember to think of things as a marathon and not a sprint. Otherwise, your desire and ideas to help are exhausted and you have nothing left to give.
Inspiration might come in the form of calling someone, or sending a card, or making a meal, or making a dessert, or setting up time for a cup of coffee, or giving a compliment...really it's about listening to your heart. It's the greatest feeling in the world when you are blessed with the opportunity to connect with someone on a such a personal level and encourage them and ease the burden they carry in even a small way. It's a blessing to give hope to someone.
On the flip side of giving is receiving. I think it's even harder to receive that help and hope. Our society has bought the lie that we are all supposed to be self-sufficient and capable of doing everything ourselves, all the time, perfectly.....NOT! How many times have you(and I) been feeling really down and really trapped in the negatives of a tough life moment and we get a phone call, or a card, or a kind word out of the blue that gives us that window of hope and reminds us that God is in control, and good feelings still exist, and we will get through the tough moment....a reminder that it's just a speed bump!
How hard is it to accept that help that we desperately need?(VERY!!!) How often do we not ask for the help we need from other people.....ask them to lighten our burden?(not often enough!) How often do feelings grow and fester out of control because we keep them inside instead of working through them?(too often!) I'm talking about myself here....if it resonates with you, too, it's purely coincidental!
Do you recognize any of these thoughts?..... I don't want to burden anyone. I can work through it myself. It's not so bad, I can handle these (sad, angry, hurt, etc.) feelings. Maybe I will call someone tomorrow. "I'm fine" is always the answer to everyone's question, "How are you?" even when I'm not. I don't even know how I'm feeling anymore, so it's just too much work to talk about it. What I feel is just too messy...it will just push people away.
I'm guilty of all of them...and even more. What I have more recently started learning, is that it's easier to be the listener to other people than the one asking people to listen.....BUT....when I keep my messiness inside I do not really share all of who I am. That effects the closeness of my friendships. I'm not saving them from my messiness, I'm creating a fence keeping people away from a part of me. It creates disconnectedness...and hurts my friendships. It hurts me too...makes me feel that I NEED to hide parts of myself. That's not very healthy.
It's hard to be honest with my messiness. But my real, true friends will be ok with who I am on any given day. I'm not perfect. I have strengths and I'm working on my weaknesses. It's humbling to admit that to other people....but it helps me grow. And, realistically, they see it all anyway, whether I tell them directly or not!
Life is messy! It cleans up better and quicker when we work together with the family and friends around us that God has blessed us with.