My work as a therapist often finds me assisting clients as they navigate through a particular life crisis, acting primarily as objective peer for a difficult situation. It isn’t that my clients don’t have friends or family with whom to pose their life questions. Oftentimes, it is that those people are not responding to them in a way that assists them in making life choices that are beneficial long-term.
In the days before seminary and this career, I used to make time to walk with my neighbor, Susan. We would solve world problems as we hiked our neighborhood trail. I recall a conversation where she recounted either a book she had read or a talk she had heard, where the subject was being a life-giver. There are two kinds of people in your life….those who give breath and those who suck it all out of you….isn’t that the truth? We usually get the clearest picture of which category our people fall into when we are facing difficult times.
Before you write off the human vacuums in your circle, it is important to realize that with some people, a little communication can remedy the crazy dynamic that has become the norm. It is our job, as people journeying together, to communicate the deal breaker behaviors before we escape with our life. Think of it as CPR for a relationship. CPR does not always work, but when it does, the miracle of it is appreciated indefinitely.
The Bible is filled with verses about friendship. There are verses that, if taken to heart, would prevent us from regretting the time and effort spent with those that almost sucked our very last breath away. Here is one that for today, gives a clear picture of who we should invest in and who we ourselves should be:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Some tips for being a life-giver to a friend who has fallen and needs a little help up:
1. Listen to their story: Being heard and understood is one of our greatest needs as humans. It sometimes is all we need to keep going.
2. Fill a need: This could be a home cooked meal for someone who is overwhelmed or watching the kids for a couple struggling in their marriage. It could also be surprising someone with a financial gift or offering verbal affirmation as they pursue a passion. The list is endless.
3. Pray for them: Interceding for people when they are emotionally unable to do it for themselves is a priceless gift.
4. Hear their thankfulness even if they do not say it: Appreciation for another is sometimes most felt long after the crisis, when emotions are in balance. Don’t fault a friend who can’t respond immediately with reciprocity.
Most importantly….when you find a friend who offers the above to you…hang on with two hands…you are operating in relationship as God intended!