Faith

Offering Silent Support To Hurting Friends

One of the blessings that comes with trials is the empathy and sensitivity you gain toward others who are suffering. I’ve found that when people know you are going through a hard, personal trial, even the most well-meaning friends have a difficult time expressing care and concern without pumping you for the details.

Because of that, I try to be extra sensitive when someone is going through a difficult situation like divorce. Recently I learned that a friend was picking up the pieces after her life fell apart. I spoke to her in private and said, “I don’t need any details and I have no questions for you. I just want you to know that I’m so sorry and that I’m praying for you.”

Relief swept over her face. She told me how hard it was to attend church with (as she called them) the “yackety yaks” needling her for details and information.

It broke my heart to hear her say that! The fellowship of believers should be a safe place, not a dreaded swarm of busy bees.

I’ve learned my no-questions approach both from experience and from the example of a wise friend who is in leadership at our church. Since she’s often in the know about people’s needs, sometimes I’ll ask her about someone who has been out of church for a couple weeks. Her response is often, “Do you have her number? I know she’d love to hear from you.”

Instead of being the one to pass on news and information (don’t we all love that role?!), she encourages others to connect, to care and to serve. She eliminates any chance for gossip or speculation!

I love the contrast in these two verses:

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
    therefore do not associate with a simple babbler (Proverbs 20:19)

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
    and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding (Proverbs 17:27)

The next time you’re inclined to push for information, offer unquestioning love and support. The next time someone comes to you for information, encourage them to love and support your friend without engaging in gossip. You’ll be glad you did. ❤

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16 thoughts on “Offering Silent Support To Hurting Friends

  1. Hi Whitney ,
    What great tips!! Would you have guidance on how to handle the same “gossipy” situation in a work situation? When in meetings it seems that the topics turn togossip, demeaning others. I have been at my work for over 2 years and the Debbie downers of others is super hard. I don’t contribute to conversation but it’s almost that your viewed as “not a team player” or at least the feeling I have. These are not young ladies as you would expect. What advice would you give for sitting in meetings like this which sad to say are many? I value yours and your moms wise words!

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    1. That is a difficult situation, but one that many of us face! I struggle with refraining from the gossip too – and the best thing that I’ve done for my own sinful tendencies is to meditate on the book of Proverbs. I listen to one chapter every day, and the wisdom from God’s Word penetrates my heart – and guards my lips! That’s my best advice – saturate your heart with the wisdom of Proverbs.

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  2. Great post! When I read the title, I thought you were going to suggest a “give space…and say nothing” approach, but as much we don’t need a swarm of bees:) when we are hurting we also don’t want to be avoided or for our hurt/situation to become the white elephant in the room. So sweet of you to simply and compassionately let this girl know you were praying for her. That you cared! Great example to follow.

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  3. This is great, Whitney. I too try not to ask details and to let others know that I’ll pray for them. God knows their needs and I try not to pry. Because I was married at 40 and we want children but have not been able, it’s painful when well meaning folks ask why I don’t have children or what do I do all day as a full-time homemaker. I know that they mean well but it can make my heart ache.

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  4. Very well said. I’ve also found that sometimes sitting quietly with someone just to let them know you are there is very encouraging, especially if they are sick and maybe don’t feel like talking. I recently read a comment that Johnny Carson made years ago on The Tonight Show. He said, Ronald Reagan kept his mouth shut today. Tomorrow he’ll explain what he meant by that. That could be a good lesson for us all.

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