A friend loves at all times,

And a brother is born for a time of adversity

{Proverbs 17:17}

A friend of mine has this to say about trouble:

“Trouble is like a monkey, one day it’s on your tree, the next, it’s on mine.”

Hard times will come, and how we choose to show up for our friends will determine the levels of intimacy our friendships can grow to.

Being present, attuned to the needs of our friends, and having empathy when they are hurting is a social skill that we ought to cultivate to grow loving and healthy relationships.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position, paying attention to body language and responding to feelings.

Everyone responds to difficult situations differently and there is a myriad of ways we can support a hurting friend.

Here are some pointers for you to consider:

1. Ask what your friend may need

Asking a hurting friend what they need removes the guessing out of meeting their needs. Once your friend responds, be sure to honour their requests even when they do not seem to align with your way of being present for your friend. For example, you may want to show up at your friend’s door to show love and support, but instead, they request you not to. Instead, they ask you to call or text.

2. Active listening

Listening actively means being able to focus on what your friend is saying using verbal and non-verbal cues to show attunement. For example, maintaining eye contact and avoiding distraction. In that moment of listening, let your friend know that you are fully present and available to them.

3. Use your words wisely

Don’t say things like “Others have it worse than you” or “you’ll get over it” What this does is invalidate your friends’ pain. Statements like “it is well” may sound spiritual and reassuring, but only minimises what your friend is going through. Instead, you can choose to say nothing at all. Sit with them, mourn with them, hold them. Being present for a friend does not mean having answers to a difficult situation.

4. Allow your friend to process

Allow your friend to oscillate to and from the different stages of grief: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, guilt, depression, and acceptance. Do not try to fix the situation or talk them into believing that there is hope at the end of their grief. Allow them to process their emotions at their own pace and in their own way.

5. Pray for and follow up

Commit to praying for your friend and following up with them. In time, seasons change, but what remains is the love and support you offered a friend in a time of need.

I would like to hear from you. How are you showing up for your friends?