Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Being A Friend To A Friend In Crisis

This year has almost come and gone and is leaving a trail of heartache, trials, broken hearts and sickness behind.  Hearts are aching all around me, but this time it isn't my own heart.  It is the hearts of many of those close to me.

But just because the circumstances don't directly relate to me and my family, we have felt every one of them.

And through it all I have been stretched and humbled in ways I could not have ever imagined.

I am a work in progress as I learn to walk with friends and family through the valley that the Lord is sifting them through, realizing that I will be sifted, in a different way of course, right along with them.

Here are some things I am learning as I try to be the best friend I can be for my friend(s) going through a crisis.

1 - Learn to be a good listener - these are obviously in no particular order, but listening is always going to be at the top of the list!  If a friend has chosen you to walk with them through something I can guarantee they haven't signed you up to "fix" the problem.  For us "fixers" this step is torture, but will solidify our intentions.  Are we in this with them to try and "fix" the problem or are we in it to pray for them and be a listening board for them as they wade these new, difficult waters and make the tough decisions they have to make.

2 - Speak truth in love - this one is tricky.  There is a time and place to speak truth.  Hard truth.  But you better make sure your heart is right and that your intentions are pure.  And furthermore, that the Holy Spirit is softening their heart to hear what He wants you to say to them.  Have you earned a right to speak this truth?  And if you speak this truth is it because you simply can't keep quiet anymore (in my own case, this typically means there is selfish or prideful intentions in my own heart) or because it is a prodding of the Holy Spirit?

3 - Keep Silent - I am learning that many times the place for me, as a friend, is just BEING with and for your friend, not TALKING TO them.  Not to be passive, but to allow the Holy Spirit to do His thing in your friend's heart.

4 - Hold Their Hand - don't try to carry them through it.  There is a very fine line between walking WITH someone through something and carrying it on your own shoulders.  This is by far the most difficult thing for me.  I feel so deeply for people, so when they hurt I physically hurt with them.  I am learning that this is not a healthy place for me to be.  Not only does is bring unneeded stress to me physically and make me a not-so-fun mama and wife, it diminishes the help I can tangibly be to my friend who has no choice in carrying the burden.

5 - Allow the Holy Spirit to be the Holy Spirit - Okay, so maybe ALL of these are difficult for me, ha!  I told you I'm still learning!  Realizing that ultimately it doesn't matter what I think they should do to get through this season, but releasing my agenda to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to take over, that can be so freeing as a friend.  And this, in turn, will allow for the quiet that needs to occur so the Holy Spirit can be heard, not only in your own heart, but in theirs.

6 - Grace upon grace - This one is for you as the friend walking with a friend AND the friend going through the pain.  Know that each one of you is most likely going to say hurtful things or words that get miscommunicated.  When emotions are raw and hurt is running so deep you can almost expect some rocky roads in your relationship.  You are both new to this and it is going to take some communication on both parts to get your friendship to the other side of this crisis, even when the crisis isn't related directly to the friendship.

7 - Let them make their own choices - a lot of times a friend will make choices that you don't agree with.  I keep thinking that this is going to be how it is when my teenager is old enough to make their own decisions.  It is hard to let go.  It isn't always going to go the way I think it should.  But I have to trust the Lord to take care of it, because no matter how much I want something for someone, THEY have to want it.  THEY are the one making the choice.

8 - Move On - maybe the decision-making is over or the grieving is coming to a close, helping your friend to know that it's okay to move on to the next season is crucial in their healing.  You may still have questions and/or things you want to say, but revert back to numbers 1 and 3.  Now is the time to let them move on.  And having the support from a friend to feel happy again is a huge step in that.

9 - Pray - this is last but certainly not least!  Prayer is your lifeline.  The very act that reaches deep down to the desires of our own heart directly to the one who created us.  He knows every fiber of our being, and every tear being shed.  He knows. Thank God He KNOWS!  So pray that you will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He leads you to keep quiet, and speak truth, and search your own heart, while being sensitive and supportive while holding the hand of your sweet friend who is in a place they never thought they'd be.

10 - Because you can't end a list on a 9!

I realize that I am speaking boldly here, but these are just personal things I've learned, sensed and heard people tell me when walking through a valley.

Please feel free to add to the list.  It isn't easy, no matter what side of the valley you are walking on.
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