Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Imagine that, after months and months of testing, a friend of yours has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Something completely life-altering. Something she will need close supervision for, lots of doctor appointments, and probably some help around the house. As she hears the news, she is caught up in all the details of how life has changed.
But people keep texting her to check in.
The phone keeps ringing, making it hard to get some much-needed rest.
Her email and social media account are exploding with well-meaning friends expressing their care and asking what they can do to help.
How helpful it would be for someone to manage all of this for her…
Someone she trusts.
Someone who can take charge.
When you have a friend who is in the thick of it, who is feeling overwhelmed by all the things, who is exhausted at the thought of returning all those messages they have received from family members and friends from church… perhaps you can offer to serve as their communication liaison.
A liaison is someone who works to manage the interaction between two people or parties. In this case, as a communication liaison, you would serve as the person who receives information from your hurting friend and then share appropriate information with others who might be asking.
As Proverbs 17:17 (CEV) says, “A friend is there to help, in any situation, and relatives are born to share our troubles.”
We don’t have to go through our difficult seasons alone—and neither do our friends. So today, let’s take a look at how we can help our hurting friend by serving as their communication liaison.
What Makes a Good Liaison?
If you are drawn to serving as a communication liaison to a hurting friend of yours, these are some of the characteristics and skills you want to make sure you are building up in your own life.
First, you need to care. That might go without saying, but caring for your friend is the most important thing you can do. You go first, in a sense, of checking in, of praying for them, of reaching out, of showing them that you are there for them in whatever way they need.
Second, you need to be available. In some cases, it might just mean checking in with your friend once a day, but for others, especially in the first few days following a loss or trauma or health concern, you’ll want to make yourself available when your friend needs you. Check in after doctor’s appointments, be there as they’re making plans for the funeral, stay with them as you are able and as they desire. This ministry of presence will speak volumes to them.
Third, you need to be trustworthy. This comes out in a couple of different ways. For instance, you need to be able to keep a confidence. If your friend shares something with you that is private, that’s not meant to be shared with others, you better be able to keep it private. But being trustworthy also means that you do what you say you’ll do. If you say you’ll send out a text to a group of family members as soon as you leave, then send out the text as soon as you leave. If you say you’ll call Great Aunt Margaret with details because she doesn’t text or use Facebook, then call her in a timely manner.
And fourth, you’ve got to be able to field questions sent to you by others asking about your friend. If someone asks you a question that revolves around one of those private matters, you need to answer in a loving way while still holding that boundary for your friend. This is actually something we talked about back in episode 13, How to Respond When Someone Asks About Your Hurting Friend. I’ll link to that in the show notes if you want to check that out.
But essentially, not even your nonverbal communication should give away the answer to a private matter. Pausing, shifting your weight, an indication with your eyes or face… you really have to be able to control these things in order to protect your friend’s privacy.
So, again, you need to care, you need to be available, you need to be trustworthy, and you need to be able to field questions from others.
Tips for Serving as a Communication Liaison
But what does it look like, practically speaking, to serve as a communication liaison?
I would imagine that, if this is something you feel led toward, in that first day or two when a friend experiences the crisis or loss, you would make yourself available to her. Again, it’s that ministry of presence.
When the time seems right—and the Lord will help you discern that if you let Him—mention that, if it would be helpful to her, you would be willing to serve as a communication liaison for her, serving as a sort of middle man between them and everyone else. And ask her, is that something you would like? And respect her answer.
If she indicates that yes, she’d like you to serve in that role, it’s good to have a conversation with her early on about what that will look like. It doesn’t have to take too long, but cover the basics:
- How often does she want you to check in with her? Daily? A couple of times a day? Or does she want to reach out to you when she has news to share?
- Who does she want you to share information with? Get a list of people and groups she wants to be updated. It might be a list of family members, a prayer list at church, her supervisor or coworkers, or any number of people.
- How does she want you to share this information? Will it be a group text? Will you post to her Caring Bridge page or social media account? Go ahead and get user names and passwords if you will be posting on her behalf, or discuss if you will simply tag her in a post, or what she wants you to do. Or, get the phone numbers of people she wants you to reach out to. Write these down in a safe spot, one you can easily access but that others can’t.
Once you have the basics covered, you can continue to clarify and refine as you start serving as her communication liaison. For example, if she is going through something health-related and she shares an update about her journey, but also includes that she is struggling emotionally with it, you might just want to ask, “Are you okay with me sharing that part with others, or would you rather I stick with just the medical information?”
She can let you know. She might also say, “You can share it with my family members, but not people from work.” In any case, don’t be afraid to ask those questions of her. I’d rather we ask and get that expressed permission to share than to share without such permission and discover she would rather that have stayed private. Error on the side of caution here, because once you say something, you can’t take it back, and you can’t control what others do with it.
Something else you can do as communication liaison is passing along messages and cards from others. It’s good to let your friend know who is asking about her, to share comments left on social media accounts, and to give her a bundle of cards from people at church. By doing this in one of your conversations with her, you are helping her because she’ll know others care, but it also centralizes the communication to her, as well, and gives her the opportunity to respond if and when she is ready.
Part of your role as communication liaison might also be setting up care for your friend. Does she need meals? Does she need childcare for her kids? Does she need rides to and from the hospital? She can communicate her needs to you and you can then take on the task of finding others to help. And in this way, not only are you serving as her communication liaison, you’re also serving as her advocate.
Challenges of Serving as a Communication Liaison
Serving as a communication liaison can be such an encouraging gift to someone who is hurting, but there are a couple of challenges involved.
The biggest one, perhaps, is that others might feel hurt that they don’t get direct access to the person going through the difficult situation. “You mean I can’t talk to her myself?” “What makes you so special to be the one to talk to her?” Those kinds of thoughts and feelings can stir up trouble.
One of the things you can do to try to address this is, as soon as you can, explain why you are serving in this role. Perhaps say something like, “Megan is feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything going on right now, and so I’m trying to help her manage all the messages and updates for her. She wants you to know what’s going on, she just doesn’t have the time or energy to do it herself right now. It won’t be this way forever, but it is helpful to her right now. If you have a message for her, I’m happy to pass it on to her for you.”
Not everyone will accept that, and that’s kind of something they’ll have to talk to the Lord about on their own, but many will understand your friend’s feeling overwhelmed and will want to help by not burdening her with even more.
A second challenge might be getting information from your friend in the first place. And I’m not talking about a “she’s too private and doesn’t want to share anything” type scenario, but more of a “she’s not answering me and I don’t know how to best check in on her.”
We all have those friends we check in on, and for whatever reason, they don’t always answer our call or respond to our text as soon as we would like them to. Try to be patient and gentle here. It could be that she just received some bad news and needs time to process it on her own first. Or it could be that she got caught up somewhere else far longer than she anticipated. Be consistent, but also be patient, and do the best you can.
So, do you think God has designed you to serve someone as a communication liaison? Or do you see a way this might be helpful for someone you know who is hurting?
It can be a big responsibility, but it can also be a big blessing. Continue to depend on the Lord to guide you and give you the strength you need to serve your friend well.
An Invitation to Journal Gently
Now, before we end, don’t forget that registration is open for Journal Gently.
Journal Gently is an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God. It is based on a trauma-sensitive approach from an organization called Write Your Self, but I’ve also incorporated Christian spiritual practices where we can invite God into the process and pay attention to how He is working and moving in our lives.
I actually had someone reach out to me who has signed up for the program, and she expressed how meaningful it is for her to be able to grow in her own skills and knowledge in Christ, but also have someone to support her as she talks to God about it.
And that’s really it right there, my friends. I am here to help you talk to God about the grief and hurt you are carrying with you, and to help you hear His response to you.
It’s not that you can’t do it on your own, because you can. As believers, we have direct access to God, and you don’t need me to serve as a communication liaison for you. You can talk to Him directly about what is going on, where you are struggling, what questions you have.
In fact, Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find the grace to help us when we need it most.” You are able to go directly to the throne of God.
I am here to support you in that process. To represent the body of Christ in your healing process. To provide a structure for your writing journey. To offer writing exercises and spiritual practices that might make it a little easier for you to find the words to say. And not only that, but to find the courage to say them.
Because grief and trauma are hard. And facing them, bringing them to the Lord for healing, can be hard.
But you don’t have to do it alone. I am here for you.
I hope that you will prayerfully consider joining me for Journal Gently. This program will start on August 1 and run through September 23.
You can learn more at lovedoesthat.org/journalgently. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.
RESOURCES + BIBLE VERSES:
- Episode 13 – How to Respond When Someone Asks About Your Hurting Friend
- “A friend is there to help, in any situation, and relatives are born to share our troubles.” (Proverbs 17:17 CEV)
- “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find the grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)
INTERESTED IN WRITTEN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
I’d be honored to walk with you through a difficult season and help you discover God’s presence and work in your life.