Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
I’m sure there are times when a friend of yours is going through a difficult season, and you really want to help. You feel like this is something God has called you to do and you’re eager to show her how much you care.
But then you start going through your options:
Maybe you can spend some extra time with her. But you’re too busy with family and work and volunteer commitments to really offer her much of your time.
Maybe you can send her a care package. But the budget’s pretty tight this month and you don’t have a lot of extra to spend. Even though you want to.
Maybe you can make her a special gift instead. But 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 is going to take some prayerful discernment, my friend. Let’s talk through some options.
Create More Time
First, find a way to create more time.
If you are really sensing that nudge from God to be there, to be present, with your friend in this season… if she is going through an incredibly difficult season and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you want to be there with her… you might actually need to cut back on something else for a while.
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.
And I share this out of experience. Wanting to be there for a friend who is hurting, but not being able to… it’s one of the worst feelings ever. So I encourage you to find a way to create that margin in your schedule. That way, you are able to show up when you want to.
But even if you can’t give your friend a ton of time, you can still give her what time you have. Check out episode 32 about using pockets of time to encourage others for some ideas.
Recognize Gifts Don’t Have to Be Expensive
So first, create some margin in your schedule if you can. This will enable you to be present with her in person and walk with her through this season.
Second, recognize that gifts don’t have to be expensive.
Perhaps one of your friend’s love languages is gifts, and you want to send her something to bless her and lift her up. I completely 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.
So consider gifting something like this:
- A $4 cup of her favorite coffee
- A Kindle book you grabbed on sale that you know she has been waiting to read
- Her favorite chocolate bar
- A small bouquet of flowers—or even ones you pick out of your own yard
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
So you can create more time in your schedule, you can find a gift that works within your budget. And third, for those times when you are feeling wiped out yourself, identify ways you can 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?
Is it reading? Writing? Do you like to bake or cook? Maybe you like to take walks or sit outside. Maybe you find energy by organizing something, or building something, or creating something.
Go ahead and make a list. And then 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.
For me, this means finding time to read each week. Preferably a little bit each day. Now, that doesn’t always happen, but it’s something I try to do.
Now, perhaps you hear me go through those ideas and you don’t feel like any of those fit where you are right now. You are simply maxed out on time, money, and energy.
Maybe it’s a tough season for you, too. Maybe you, too, are grieving. Or depressed. Or anxious. Or going through a major life change. Or any number of things.
If, after prayerfully bringing the situation before God, you feel He isn’t calling you to change in any of those things we’ve talked about, 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.
And prayer… man, it’s such a powerful way to support someone. I wish we realized that more often. To lift our friends up by name to God, to intercede on their behalf… it’s huge.
In Romans 15:30 (NLT), Paul wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.” We literally join them, we partner with them, we walk with them in their hurt, their grief, their brokenness—through prayer. Don’t underestimate the impact of that.
However God leads you, know that I am praying for you, my friends. 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.
That is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
BIBLE VERSES & RESOURCES:
- “Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:30 NLT)
- Episode 2: Discerning Who to Encourage
- Episode 27: The Cost of Caring for Others
- Episode 32: Using Pockets of Time in Your Schedule to Encourage Others
- Article: 92 Ways to Encourage and Support Others
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