Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Last week, I shared a session I gave at the Small Church Women’s Ministries conference about leading as an introvert, and in the middle of that, we talked about some of the relational strengths that introverts can have.
And today, I want to kind of continue that line of thinking by helping you identify some of the ways you bring comfort to others. Because, just like we all bring different characteristics to our relationships, we all also have our own way of comforting others. The way you comfort others may not look like the way I bring comfort to others, and that’s okay.
God designed us each so differently. And we want to use those things to love others well, right?
But what I’ve experienced, and maybe you have, too, is that it is so easy for us to get this idea in our heads that we don’t fit the right mold.
I’m not outgoing.
I don’t know what to say.
I’m not like so-and-so… she always knows what to do.
I don’t really know her that well, so how can I try to comfort her?
What if what I say comes out wrong and hurts her?
People think I’m so detached; how am I supposed to comfort them?
I get so nervous at hospitals or funeral homes.
What is it for you? What thoughts pop into your head when you think about providing comfort and care to others?
What I want to show you today is that you can use the characteristics God gave you to bring comfort to others. You don’t have to try to be someone else. And that really, the big idea of comforting others isn’t so much a personality type as it is the act of being present.
Presence of Care
Let me give you an example. In her book The Art of Comforting, Val Walker shares an experience she had with her friend named Morna:
“Morna offered me something that few professionals or lay people are willing or even able to offer: she allowed me to fall apart in her presence. She didn’t judge me, diagnose me, hire me or fire me, bill me, instruct me, save me, or heal me. She wasn’t trying to be absolutely unconditionally loving or saintly. She wasn’t even trying to make me smile. She just sat with me amid the mess in my kitchen, the mess in my life, and the mess in my heart and allowed me to be in my pain. Unfazed by all this mess, she sat there and held it together with her mere presence.”
Who is that person for you? Who do you go to when you need care and comfort? And what is it about them that draws you to them?
Take a moment and think about it. Really think about it. Maybe even take some time to journal it this week.
Think back through your life. Who did you turn to as a teenager? Who did you go to as a young adult trying to find your way in the world? Who is someone that provides comfort to you now? Do they all share similar characteristics or do they each bring something different to the situation?
Maybe as a teenager, you needed someone accepting and welcoming. When you were having a hard day, you didn’t want to talk about it; you just wanted to belong and know that somebody cared about you.
Maybe as a young adult or a young parent, you needed answers. You had a lot of big questions, and comfort came from being able to talk about it with someone.
Again, take the time to think through these people. What was it about them that comforted you? Be as specific as you can.
Characteristics of Comforters
Now, in an early chapter in her book, The Art of Comforting, Val identifies 20 characteristics of people who are seen as comforting by others. I am going to review just a few of them here, but if you want to learn more about it, I encourage you to check out her book. It has been so incredibly helpful for me.
You can also still take advantage of the sale going on for my Courageous Care Masterclass, where we talk about this a little bit more. Especially in session 2, where we focus on caring for others in a way that is authentic to us. You can get more details on that at lovedoesthat.org/care.
But let me name just a few comforting characteristics Val mentions in her book and see if any of these resonate with you or surprise you.
- RESPECTFUL: this is someone who honors others as human beings
- PATIENT: this is someone who doesn’t rush people but lets them move at their own pace
- RELIABLE: this is someone who does what they say they will do, they are dependable
- CLEAR: this is someone who is realistic in what they can do and keeps boundaries
- HOPEFUL: this is someone who instills hope without being preachy or giving advice
- WISE/EXPERIENCED: this is someone has been through demanding challenges and losses
What do you think? Did you ever think of being clear as a way to comfort others? But for those who are hurting, where there might be a lot of mystery or questions that can’t be answered, knowing exactly how someone can support you is actually quite comforting, isn’t it?
Or what about being reliable and actually showing up to do what you said you’re going to do? How many times do we drop the ball and either forget our commitment to someone or chicken out and not follow through? Or let other tasks take precedence? Having someone you can rely on when you’re hurting? That’s huge!
So go back and think about the way God has designed you. What characteristics has He given to you that might be comforting to someone else? Take time to talk to God about this. Ask Him to show you over the next few days what this looks like for you. Will you do that?
The Source of Comfort
Now, before we end, I want to remind you of a very important truth: we don’t manufacture comfort on our own. God comforts us, and in turn, we can offer that same comfort to our brothers and sisters.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT, it says, “…God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Have you experienced that? Have you gone through a dark valley and yet God brought that peace that passes understanding? Or has He shown His care for you through the hands of others? Or has He reminded you of the promises in His Word? Did He give you the strength to endure a difficult trial?
Let’s take the comfort God has given us in our own times of despair and pass that along to others when they are hurting. Amen?
Okay, my friends, that is all for today. I listed Val’s book in the show notes below. And don’t forget, you can grab that Courageous Care Masterclass on sale through the end of this month. Just go to lovedoesthat.org/care. Until next time, let’s encourage one another.
- Book: The Art of Comforting, Val Walker
- Courageous Care Masterclass: http://lovedoesthat.org/care
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