Encouragement is Key
Ups and downs in life are pretty common. You may know how you want people to support you if you’re going through a difficult time, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to help a friend or loved one when you’re not the one hurting. When your friend goes through a rough break-up, her grandmother dies or she’s just having a bad week, you want to help her, but you just don’t know how. It’s hard to know the best way to encourage your friend with more than a hug and saying, “I’m praying for you.” For those moments, when you’re at a loss for words or actions, try some of these things to help bring support and care to your hurting friend:
Draw a Picture
When a friend is having a rough time, notes and drawings can speak volumes. It tells her that she’s not only on your mind, but you took the time to design something to cheer her up. If drawing isn’t your greatest talent, that makes the gift even better! The humor of a silly drawing can easily bring a smile to your friend’s face. It’s unique and personalized and makes her feel special. Amazing what a piece of paper can say if it comes from a friend.
Pick Up the Phone
Texts, tweets and Facebook Wall posts are all nice ways to encourage people. But receiving a phone call from a friend who just wants to chat or lend an ear is really special. Skype and Facetime are useful contact options, but a phone call makes you rely solely on your words of encouragement and affirmation. Sending words is nice, but hearing them is exceptional.
Find out what your friend’s favorite baked good is and make it for her. Treats aren’t only sweet tasting, but a sweet sentiment. If your friend doesn’t like sweets, flip through some cookbooks or cooking websites for recipes for a homemade snack. Or, go over to your friend’s house and make her dinner. Don’t forget to do the dishes!
Give Some Time
If you don’t know what issues your friend is passionate about, find out. Then, support her in those passions. You can help out with fundraisers, volunteer at an organization with her, help make connections or spend time talking about the issue. Often people have the impression that no one else cares about his or her passion, so to hear or see that someone else cares is incredibly encouraging.
What does your friend like to do? Debate? Act? Sing? Compete? Simply showing up to her extra-curricular events says that you care about what she does and who she is. Just your presence at an event says that you care. Make sure to spend some time telling your friend your thoughts and pointing out what a great job she did!
Sharing is Caring
If you see something that reminds you of a friend, share it with her! Send a picture, or tell the story of how you thought of her out of the blue. Buying little gifts for your friend that remind you of her also says that you care about her and are thinking of her. Chances are it will bring a smile to her face.
If you suspect or know that your friend is struggling, simply ask if she’s OK. If she says, “yes,” you may want to ask one more time. Your friend may want to talk, but doesn’t know what to say, so showing her that you really want to hear her thoughts may help her feel comfortable and willing to share. If your friend is actually struggling and she decides to open up to you, JUST LISTEN. You don’t have to provide any answers. You don’t need to give advice. Just listen. Give her a hug and let her cry and talk it out. Take her out for coffee, have a sleep-over and let her talk through her issues. Remember that you would want to be heard if you were having a hard time, so she deserves to be heard as well. Sometimes just listening can be the hardest thing, but it’s incredibly encouraging.
Instead of just telling your friend you’ll pray for her, offer to pray for her, right then and there. Often, people use the phrase “I’ll pray for you” as “I’m sorry but I don’t know what to do.” Actually pray for your friend! It’s both surprising and touching when someone offers to pray for you right on the spot.
Think of Me Fondly
Your friend doesn’t have to be going through a rough time to encourage her. Random acts of kindness or encouragement are often the most memorable. Many of these encouraging tips can be effective even when your friend is not going through something difficult. Even if it’s not a matter of concern, it’s always encouraging to know that you have not been forgotten and are actually thought of quite often.