Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
This is the third day of our Courageous Care Challenge. We are taking an honest look at the obstacles and objections we have to reaching out to those around us who are hurting and in need of care. In other words, we’re looking at what is getting in the way.
On the first day, we talked about how we often don’t help because we’re uncertain. “I don’t know what to say.” “I don’t know what to do.” And because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing. And that is not helpful. I challenged you to just say something, just do something, so that your friend knows you are there for her, that you see her pain, and that you care about her.
Yesterday, we talked about how we sometimes don’t help because we’re unavailable. “I don’t have the time.” And I challenged you to look at your schedule to see if that is really true or not, to see if God might be calling you to let go of one or two things so that you can better care for those around you who are struggling, who are grieving.
What has been your biggest takeaway so far? Or maybe I should ask, what has hit home most with you?
I’ll be honest. Each day of the Courageous Care Challenge is going to get more personal, more honest, more real. As I sat down and looked at the comments people say, at the comments I say, God just opened my eyes to these things, and I have to confess, it’s not easy to admit that some of these things come out of my heart. I don’t like it.
But we have to name it, we have to call it out, we have to repent, so that we can ask God to help us change.
So are you ready for today?
Today’s obstacle is that we are unfamiliar. In other words, “I don’t know anything about what my friend is going through.”
I’ve never had cancer before.
I don’t have any family members with cancer.
I’ve never been divorced.
I’ve never experienced depression.
I’ve never lost a child before.
I’ve never been fired from my job.
I’ve never had to stay in a hospital.
I don’t know what they are going through.
I don’t know what it’s like.
How many of you, if your friend is struggling with depression, you just don’t get it. You’ve never experienced it before, you’ve not had anyone close to you experience it. It’s a mystery to you. You don’t know how it impacts their daily living. You don’t know how it affects their body. You don’t know why they want to sleep all the time or have the lights off. You don’t understand why they don’t just snap out of it and choose to be happy. You just are not familiar with it in any way, shape, or form.
And so, you either feel unqualified to help them or you’re scared by it. It’s something new. It’s different. And we don’t like it.
We like what’s familiar. We’d rather stick with something that is familiar than face something we don’t know or understand.
In fact, “a study published in Psychological Science found that people prefer a familiar option over a non-familiar one, even when they know it’s the worst option” (Citation).
Can you identify with that? For example, you choose to eat at the pizza place you’re familiar with, even though their pizza isn’t very good, rather than try the place that just opened up and everyone says is delicious. Or you take the same route to work every day, so that when your road is blocked and you have to go a different way, it causes some anxiety.
Familiar things are just more comfortable.
Which means unfamiliar things are not. We have too much anxiety, too many questions, when it comes to something new.
So how do we break through this obstacle? We take steps to become more familiar with it.
By just exposing yourself to the situation or learning something about it, you can combat your anxiety and be able to come alongside your friend. You don’t need to know everything about what your friend is going through. You just need to know enough to be there for her.
So instead of being scared or anxious about it, be curious. Ask questions and find out the answers.
You can ask your friend directly, if she’s open to sharing. “What’s it like for you to feel depressed?” “What is a good way for me to help you today?” “What’s one thing you wish people knew about depression?”
Or you can research the issue. Find credible website articles about it, read the memoir of someone who went through a similar situation, or listen to a podcast episode where someone is sharing more about it.
As you become more familiar, you’ll feel more confident in reaching out to your friend. Again, you don’t have to become an expert in the matter. You just need to be aware. And you need to show compassion, whether you understand it all or not.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re not very familiar with hospitals. Maybe they even scare you a little bit. Yet a friend is in the hospital. What can you do to become more familiar?
You can call ahead and talk to the service counter. Ask what room your friend is in, if you don’t already know. Ask when visiting hours are. Ask which entrance you should go in, and how to get to your friend’s room. Ask if you’re allowed to bring anything, like a small gift or book.
When you get there, take your time. Look at the map of the hospital that’s either on the wall or on a pamphlet. Figure out how to get to your friend’s room and back. Walk slowly and just take in your surroundings. Note what you see.
If it’s too much for one trip, plan one visit to the hospital just to look around, and then go back again later that day or the next day to actually visit your friend.
Take small steps to become more familiar with what’s going on. And don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way.
Our Bible verse for this series is Luke 6:36—“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” I’ve already shared a few stories where Jesus demonstrated this for us, and I want to share another one with you today.
It comes from Luke chapter 7, verses 11 through 15 (NLT).
Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Jesus saw a widow, a woman who had already lost her husband, and who had now lost her only son. She had no family left to care for her, or even to live with. When Jesus sees this funeral procession coming out from the village, when He sees the widow herself in her grief and heartbreak, the Bible says, “His heart overflowed with compassion.”
My friends, does your heart overflow with compassion when you see others who are hurting or grieving? Or is it numb? Does their pain even register with you anymore?
“You must be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”
Ask God to give you a heart of compassion. Ask Him to show you what compassion looks like. Ask Him who in your life needs a bit of compassion today.
So obstacle number one, we’re uncertain. “I don’t know what to say.” “I don’t know what to do.”
Obstacle number two, we’re unavailable. “I don’t have the time.”
And obstacle number three, we’re unfamiliar. “I don’t know anything about what she is going through.”
We’re diving deeper and deeper into the heart of why we don’t reach out to help others.
As I mentioned yesterday, I have a Courageous Care Masterclass coming up that will allow us to explore what courageous care looks like. In it, I’ll introduce you to my C.A.R.E. framework. “Care” is an acronym:
C is for Courageously Compassionate. I’ve been sharing part of this module with you throughout the Courageous Care Challenge. It’s about the five obstacles that get in the way of reaching out and what we can do to overcome them.
A is for Authentically Taking Action. We’re going to look at how God has wired you to show His love and compassion to those around you. Because the way you care for others is probably going to look different than the way I do—and that’s okay!
R is for Relying on God. Because we have to be able to sense those nudges from God about when and how to respond. We can’t encourage and care for everybody, and we’ve got to be able to know how to discern God’s leading in this.
And E is for Ever Mindful of the Other Person. Because we all receive encouragement and care in different ways, and we want to help our friend in a way that is truly helpful for her.
If you’re interested in the Courageous Care Masterclass, go ahead and go to lovedoesthat.org/care and sign up for the waitlist. It’s going to be completely free, but it will be extremely limited in size so that we can actually interact with each other and talk through these things in a safe and sacred space.
I hope and pray that God has been using this Challenge to speak to you and invite you to see how you can take action this week to care for those in your neck of the woods. We’ve got two more days to go. I’ll see you back you tomorrow for day four.
- “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:36 NLT)
- “Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. ‘Young man,’ he said, ‘I tell you, get up.’ Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:11-15 NLT)
- Episode 19: [Courageous Care Challenge] Day One: Uncertain
- Episode 20: [Courageous Care Challenge] Day Two: Unavailable