I didn’t expect her to begin crying or for me to stand there like a rotting tree stump in her presence, unsure of what to say, feet stupidly rooted to the carpet beneath me.
My brain was screaming for wisdom, my eyes searching her face for clues as to what would provide comfort or calm.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I stammered, reaching out to touch her arm. But what my own ears heard sounded more like Charlie Brown’s teacher than anything resembling a consoling response.
(Wah – wah – wah …)
- Where were the soothing Bible verses in that moment?
- The time-honored quotes?
- The “perfect” word that would part the heavens and make everything okay…at least for a time?
I don’t know where they were, but I can tell you that they were not coming out of my mouth.
How to Encourage When You Don’t Have the Words
I’ve always wished I could be “that friend” — you know the one — she always knows just what to say, making you feel nearly guilty for not paying her an hourly counseling rate.
But since I’m not, I rely heavily on other methods of encouraging my friends and family, especially those coping with cancer, waiting to bring home long-prayed-for adopted children, or those living in chronic pain.
Here are some ideas:
- If you have friends and family going through adoption, download and print THIS PRAYER CALENDAR for 30 ideas that will encourage them. I originally posted this prayer sheet (seen above) on my other blog for intentional parenting, The Unofficial Homeschooler.
- Find the perfect words at Hallmark. For the price of a hot chocolate you can send a meaningful card and a handwritten note. Buy a handful, fill them out and stamp them, and stick them in your calendar so you can mail one a week.
- Take note of special Bible verses as you find them. Jot them on pretty paper or a notecard they can stick on the fridge. Let the promises of God sustain them.
- Grab an extra copy of that great devotional to give as a gift. I’ve recently purchased a few extra copies of Sarah Young’s dynamite book, Jesus Calling for friends and family members who are walking a difficult road. Add a bookmark with a prayer for them.
- Add their photo to a prominent place in your house as a reminder to pray for them. OR — Buy a dollar store photo album and fill it specifically with pictures of people to pray for. Hand it to your kids while you’re making breakfast and teach them to lift up others!
- Invite nearby friends over for a quiet lunch or afternoon drink to chat without interruption. Forget about finding the perfect words to say — just listen.
- Find 30 more ideas in the download pictured above! Please share it with your community!
How do you creatively support and encourage those who are struggling?