I also appreciate reading the sad news from friends. And some of the pics...I have a weak stomach and a vivid imagination. But what I appreciate most is the opportunity to pray for the person.
Of late I've decided to not simply key in "Praying" for someone's post or email. There usually is a long list of very caring friends and relatives who have already done that. The person knows. These treasured friends are praying.
Recently a dear friend said his mother passed. His words demonstrated his love for her, how her life meant so much to him, and how he would deeply miss her. Even more so, he chose to include a special photo. One that showed his mom wearing a lovely dress and smiling. Her eyes twinkled and she looked like such a godly, happy woman.
The long list of "Praying" was already there so that was covered. I figured he needed to see something else. So I wrote what I saw. "She looks like such a godly and happy lady." and a few other words I can't remember.
He replied to my comment and so did a few others who seemed to be family related.
My friend needed to see the "praying" comments, but he also just needed a kind word. Someone else who saw what he knew.
I have a walk through the Bible blo, and am currently telling the story of Job. This has given me the opportunity to dig into this heart wrenching event. I had heard about Job's three friends and their "advice" (yeah, right) but what I hadn't seen was the good they did at first.
Job's three friends met after hearing the news. They talked with each other and decided to go to Job and simply sit with him. When they saw him from a distance, their hearts were broken. They hadn't realized the depth of Job's struggles. So moved, they tore their robes, put ashes on their heads then--and this is key--sat with him. They didn't say a word. They simply sat with him for seven days and seven nights. Ready to listen. Ready to be quiet.
This is the A+friendship. (of course, they blew it after that...but...)
Sometimes it's not so easy being a good friend. I've been on both sides of the fence, the sufferer and the one trying to be a good friend. You probably have, too. What I have learned is:
1. Giving advice to the suffering one is not appreciated.
2. Talking--often is not appreciated by the suffering one.
3. Warm hugs are SO appreciated.
4. Food sometimes is--many times not--because twenty other people already brought the same dish. Also, if food is given, try to remember not everyone likes food the same way. Call and ask, "I don't know what else to do. I love you so much and want to show you my love by bringing you a meal. Do you like...?" Keep the questions to no more than two. The person is overwhelmed.
5. Call to listen if you don't live close. Do not call to chat. If there is silence for ten minutes, then that's okay. Don't try to fill it. When you need to go do something else, simply tell the person. "I'll call back and listen again tomorrow. I'm here for you. Love you."
6. This may sound odd, but do not write Bible verses in cards, letters, emails, etc. for the person, it comes off as preachy. God is helping the individual in many ways and He is bringing the perfect verse to their mind. Best here is to pray that God will bring the best verse to the person's thoughts. Pray this daily, hourly, moment by moment for the person in need. And yes, this goes for the unsaved as well.
7. Last, and most important, help the suffering one to not feel like they have to help you help them. Go ahead and take charge by crying, hugging, etc. Visit them but bring something with you, like a book, a craft. SOMETHING TO SHOW you don't need to be entertained, comforted, helped to help the suffering one.
I highly recommend not being on a cell phone during the visit. Turn it off and put it away. Once I was the suffering one, the visitor pulled out their cell and -- I don't know know-- did stuff for almost the whole visit. He/she was so engaged with their phone, I didn't dare say a word to them even when I wanted to.
Yeah, it's not so easy being the good friend. Sometimes, we just have to sit and listen. Not talk. Not ask. Just be there.
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