Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
My family and I were recently on a trip that was a pretty far drive from where we live, and as we traveled, I kept saying to my husband, “So-and-so lives here. So-and-so lives here.” And I’d get out my phone and send a quick DM or email to her and say something like, “Hey, I’m driving through your town and I’m thinking of you!”
And then I’d look around and think about that a bit. I’d think, “You drive here every day. This is your town. This is your neighborhood. This is your neck of the woods. This is where you care for others, where you care for your own soul.” And it was just a kind of sacred moment as we passed through each town.
I wish I knew where more of you lived because, chances are, I might have driven close to you, too. And while we didn’t have time to stop and meet with everyone, it was still a precious gift to be able to send them a message to let them know I was thinking of them.
On this trip, I realized there are plenty of ways to reach out to others even when you’re far away—whether you’re on vacation or with a family member who had to travel for medical treatment, or any number of reasons. Or maybe it’s a loved one who lives too far from you for you to be able to see them in person. And today, I wanted to share some of those long-distance encouragement ideas with you.
Because I know you. And while there definitely times we need to completely unplug from others and find refreshment in the Lord, there are also times when we need to reach out and let others know we care, even when we can’t be there in person.
So this will be kind of a part two to last week. Last week, we talked about how to encourage others when you’re short on time, money, or energy. This week, we’re focusing on how to encourage them when you’re far away.
So what might encouragement on the go look like? Here are some ideas:
Send a Personal Message
One idea is to send a personal message. That’s certainly one thing I did. It can be a text message, a DM, or even a voice message… take a couple of minutes and send your note to your loved one.
The message itself doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple, “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m praying for you,” does just fine! Of course, feel free to add in some details. “I’m praying about _____,” or “I wish I could be there with you and give you a giant hug” or anything like that.
You could also send a postcard or note or even a full-length letter in the mail. I think we all love snail mail, don’t we?
And one of my favorite things to do is to send audio prayers. I do this for my customers when they order something from the shop, sending them a personal audio prayer. Many times, when they order a tear bottle, they send it directly to their friend as a gift, and so I pray for their friend by name, and I pray for them as they care for their friend.
I do this with my clients, too, as God leads. I can email them an audio prayer or send a voice message on Facebook or Instagram, and it just lets them know that I’m thinking of them and praying for them, that I see them, and they matter to me.
So sending a personal message is not only simple, but incredibly meaningful. And there are a lot of ways you could go about it and a lot of little messages you could send.
Get on a Video Call with Them
Depending on the situation, you might also want to jump on a video call with them. I can imagine how powerful this could be if they were in the hospital or nursing home, or if they weren’t able to leave their house. We do this even now with family members—even ones that live in the same town! We love to call and do video chats with them and interact, just inviting them into our everyday life.
Being on vacation or away from them makes this extra special, because it allows you to see each other even when you’re not near. You can literally show them around your location, or they can show you around theirs.
But the most important thing here is really just being able to look one another in the eyes, to communicate your love and care, even if there really are no words to say. Let them see the love in your eyes. Let them see your tears, if that’s what the situation brings out. Blow a kiss, or hug the phone, or do whatever you can to replicate what an in-person interaction would look like.
Read Out Loud to Them
Another option would be to read out loud to them. Children, especially, love to have stories read to them, even if it’s through an audio or video call. If you know you’re going to be away, pack a few of their favorite storybooks and plan a time to call and read to them.
But this isn’t just for kids—it’s for adults, too! If you have a loved one who loves to read, but who can’t because their vision isn’t that great any more or they’re too fatigued or any number of reasons, it would be such a gift to them for you to read one of their books to them. Or to read the Bible to them. Or poetry. Or the newspaper. Whatever it is they like!
Find Ways to Celebrate Even the Little Things with Them
Another idea would be to find ways to celebrate with them. Whatever the difficult season is that your loved one is going through, chances are, there are going to be moments of celebration along the way. Maybe they finished their medical treatment or took their first steps in physical therapy or got a good score on a test.
Take advantage of these little moments to celebrate with them. How do you do that long-distance? Send them a bunch of balloons, or get them on the phone and cheer them on. Maybe you can send them a pizza and order one for yourself and get on a video call to party together.
Recruit Others to Help in Person
Something else to keep in mind is that, many times, our hurting friends need help doing everyday tasks, like getting groceries or cleaning their house. If this is something you would normally do, but you’re too far away to help, consider recruiting others to help instead.
This might be mutual friends or family members who are in the area. You could give them a call and see if they’d be able to step into your place for you. But it might also be using services like Instacart or a housekeeper, others you pay to come in and help by delivering the groceries or doing a deep clean of the house or even prepping meals so that your friend doesn’t have to do all the cooking on her own.
Of course, you want to make sure your friend is comfortable having those individuals in her home, but what a great relief it might be to not have to worry about finding the energy to clean or cook, huh?
Invite Them to Stay in Your Home
Another idea is, when you’re going to be gone for awhile and need someone to help care for your home or your pets, intentionally invite someone who might enjoy actually living at your house and getting that time away.
Maybe it’s a college student struggling through her classes and needing extra time to study. Or someone who just needs to get out of their own place for a little while, time and space to think and pray and reflect. A pastor or ministry leader might enjoy something like this—even if they can’t stay there the entire time, having somewhere to go for an hour or two every day could be quite refreshing. A simple change of scenery can help so much!
I was on the receiving end of this once. A couple from my church was going to be gone for a week and asked me to stay at their house and take care of their dogs for them. I went out one afternoon so the wife could show me around, introduce me to their little dogs, and walk me through what I needed to know. And then I got to stay there instead of going to my own home.
Even though I lived on my own at the time, and it was in the same city where I lived, it was still a good change of pace. I remember taking some photos while I was there and capturing some really beautiful moments with the deer in their backyard and a tree of theirs that was blooming.
What Ideas Do You Have?
So there you have it, six ideas for how you can reach out to others even when you’re far away:
- Send a personal message
- Get on a video call with them
- Read out loud to them
- Find ways to celebrate with them
- Recruit others to help in person, and
- Invite them to stay in your home while you’re gone
But my friends, there are so many other ideas: sending a care package or gift card, having flowers delivered to them, creating a custom gift for them, texting them a favorite photo of you two together, or any number of things.
What other ideas popped into your mind as you’ve listened? Maybe it’s something you’ve done for someone else, or something they did for you. I would love to hear it and add to our list. You can email me at email@example.com, and 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.
- Episode 88: Helping Others When You Have Limited Resources
- Article: 92 Ways to Encourage and Support Others
- Training: Courageous Care Masterclass: Learning how to C.A.R.E. for others
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.