Thursday, August 30, 2012

What To Say To A Friend In Need

What do you say when a friend is in need?

     "Well, that just sucks." 

        I think that is a perfect way to start. I have learned a few things over the years. Both, as the one melting down, and as the one searching for the right words to say. I have tried to be a good listener. I have failed miserably. But when I just offer good ol' sympathy, it goes a lot further than some feeble attempt to make sense of their pain. 

     "That would really make me upset too."

     It matters not if they are hurting as a result of a bad choice, or a "self-whooping," as we call it in our house. So what if you have heard this same complaint a hundred times? To your friend, in that
moment, they just need validation. Or understanding. Comfort.

       "There must be a lesson here for you."
       "Everything happens for a reason."
       "God has something better for you."
       "Everything will work out in the end...just wait and see."

       Don't say that. Well, say it if you must, but not right away. In the middle of tears or torment, just listen and try to relate to what your friend is feeling. Empathy can heal a wound faster than sound advice. Kindness will suck out some of the poison that is stinging your friend's heart. Their pain will feel a bit more bearable. There is time later for logic, but in that moment, just say,

     "I hear ya...."

     Don't rush over it, or dismiss it. Let your friend vent, then you nod, then you hug, then you say, "that sucks."  

And repeat if necessary.   

     I love this piece of advice written by noted Scotsman, Ian MacLaren:
      Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”

          It is so true! We are all just traveling along, all on a journey, all tired and happy and mad and sad and glad. Let's try to cut each other a little slack. Most of us are fighting hard battles....

     I have had a couple of friends (and sisters) who have mastered the art of empathy. They know who they are, because they are the ones who get my late night texts, and frantic-freak-out phone calls. Thank you for allowing me to be honest and then telling me how LOUSY it all is. Thank you for crying and laughing with me. Thank you for loving me right through my bad attitude without trying to "fix" me. 

....Because we all know what a mountain of a task THAT is! 

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