Last night’s “Call to Action” was a beautiful harmony of honesty, vulnerability, and community. The conversation brought us to a discussion about how to meet a friend where they are, while still remaining who you are. Also related to friendship, someone made the important point that those that people naturally turn to for support need people to turn to as well. When thinking about friendship, we often point out the qualities of a good friend. What would be helpful to think about is what it looks like to be a good friend to the person in front of you. How do I best serve this particular person with unique needs?
Being a friend for someone in crisis takes even more care and consideration. Often our response is to want to bring relief and joy as quickly as possible. It’s beautiful to want to take the pain away, but we have to be very in tune with what the person in front of us actually needs. We don’t like to see people suffer, so we may prematurely try to bring them out of their darkness…when most of us typically need to sit there for a bit. We want to wipe tears away, when crying might be exactly what’s needed. Being a friend who brings joy and peace starts with being a friend through sadness and confusion.
One of the most difficult realities to accept is that truly serving means deeply suffering. If I sit with you in your pain, I will inevitably feel it too. If I love you, I will share in whatever experience you are having. This is why our go-to response to tears is to want to take them away. If you feel better, then so will I. What’s necessary though, is to let the person you are seeking to care for take their time. Rushing through the pain may actually diminish the joy. Experiencing and exploring the pain together will likely be a better vehicle for peace, joy, and healing.
Being available to show up for whatever your friend is experiencing is at the heart of being a true servant. Let’s consider some key aspects of being a friend who seeks to serve.
- There’s a fine line between being comfortable and taking advantage. Treat your most reliable friends with the most care and consideration. Be intentional about making sure they can rely on you as well.
- Learn to speak your friend’s language. It’s a great act of love to take time to consider how to meet your friend where they are. Ask yourself who the person in front of you needs you to be.
- Do what you can to avoid giving unnecessary burdens. Each person has enough of their own burdens. Be a burden lifter! Try not to add more.
- Be OK with being inconvenienced for your friend’s sake. And also, don’t say yes to something you are unable to do. A good friend will welcome an interruption. And a good friend will understand if you are unavailable.
- Pay attention. Listen without judgement, interruption, or advice. Give advice when it’s your duty or you are asked. Otherwise, just be there.
- Hold back opinions when it doesn’t matter. Share when it does.
- Knowing yourself is great. Being yourself isn’t always the best. You can seek unconditionally love without wanting unconditional affirmation. Sometimes the person you feel like being isn’t best for the situation or the relationship in general.
The Lord said that He came to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many. One way to seek to follow after Him is by doing the hard work of fully give yourself to the one person in front of you. Let us meet our friends where they are and love each other no matter where we’re going.