Your friend is experiencing a rough season right now, and you want to help. Great! But then you start going through your options:
- Spend extra time with her? You’re too busy with family and work and volunteer commitments.
- Send her a care package? The budget’s pretty tight this month and you don’t have a lot of extra to spend.
- Make her a special gift? Your creative energy is completely depleted, even if you did have a chance to sit down and craft something.
So how do you come alongside your friend when you’re short on time, money, and energy? Well, that’s going to take some prayerful discernment, my friend. Let’s talk through some options.
Create More Time
You might actually need to cut back on something else during this season so you can be fully present with your friend. Is there a volunteer commitment you can take a step back from? Can you ask someone to cover for you in one of your responsibilities, and then in a month or two, you’ll cover for them?
Or maybe it’s a hobby that needs to take a backseat for a little bit. That extra time reading or playing sports is important and fun, but in light of the current situation with your friend, might not be something to hold onto tightly right now.
In general, it’s a good practice to live with a little margin in your life–creating space in your schedule so you have extra pockets of time when you can reach out to a friend in need. If that’s not the way you’re living right now, perhaps you can proactively start making some changes so that, in the future, you won’t have to make such tough decisions in the moment and feel stuck.
Recognize Gifts Don’t Have to Be Expensive
I understand the desire to pack all of your friend’s favorite goodies into a basket and deliver her a pick-me-up kind of present. But gifts don’t have to be costly.
Picking one or two small, but meaningful items shows your friend that you know her and that you care about her. That’s the main point, right? It’s not about the price tag, it’s about your friendship.
- A $5 cup of her favorite coffee
- A book you grabbed on sale that you know she has been waiting to read
- Her favorite chocolate bar
- A small bouquet of flowers
What would make your friend feel special? Known? Loved? Make a list and then pick something that works with your budget. Send it (or give it in person) with hand-written note and a prayer, and your friend will know that you’re there for her.
Refresh Your Energy
If you’re having trouble feeling energetic enough to do much of anything, then, again, you might need to revisit your schedule and routine to ensure you are managing your energy well.
What activities refresh you? What do you do that helps you relax and rest?
Go ahead and make a list. On one side of the paper, list activities or routines that give you energy. On the other side of the paper, list activities or routines that take away your energy.
Note, just because something takes your energy doesn’t make it a bad thing! I love to teach, but after a few hours of teaching, I know I need some time alone to get some of that energy back.
Find ways to incorporate some of these energy-giving activities into your schedule each week so that you aren’t so depleted that you can’t encourage a friend who is hurting.
Perhaps you read through those tips and you don’t feel like any of those fit where you are right now. You simply are maxed out on time, money, and energy. It’s a tough season for you, too.
If, after prayerfully bringing the situation before God, you feel He isn’t calling you to change in any of those things, then I gently invite you to let your friend know you are praying for her (and I do hope you are praying for her!), and let God lead others to walk alongside her in a way that you can’t right now.
I know it’s hard to even think about that. But if we truly have our friend’s best interests in mind, we might have to let others do what we can’t.
However God leads, know that I am praying for you, my friend. Encouraging others and caring for them during difficult times is a high calling. Not one that we take lightly. Let’s make sure we let God lead us and strengthen us every step of the way.
Read my post, Discerning Who to Encourage, for more on deciding how and when to help others.