We all know what it’s like to be asked “how are you?” At church, the grocery store, the bank, etc. It’s likely that we have all given this easy, short, and polite answer: “good, and how are you?” There is nothing wrong with being polite. However, I believe that we have all had moments, where when asked “how are you?”, that deep down in our hurting souls, we’ve wished that we could pour out all of how we really are.
I think we are so used to this feeling that we’re supposed to put on some kind of face, a mask, to look better to others than we know we actually are.
Does anyone understand?
As I get to know people a little deeper than just a shallow “how are you”? I see how common broken feelings are, and how rarely we share them. How often we carry these heavy burdens alone, without any encouragement to keep us going.
We go to church, surrounded by other believers, sing some songs, listen intently to the preaching of the Word, have some basic chit chat with some friends, then we go home and wish there was someone out there who knew and understood us.
How could they though? How could they really understand us if we aren’t willing to go any deeper into what we’re dealing with?
We’re so afraid of the ugly in us. So afraid, that we don’t want to admit it to anyone else. We’re so worried about how people will react when we tell them that we yelled at our kids, or that we have been feeling down lately, or that we are struggling with contentment, or a nagging sin that we can’t seem to get rid of, or that we’re feeling lonely, or that we can’t seem to get a grip on life, or that we are stagnant in our faith and our relationship with God. Yeah, it might be difficult to admit these things. But most likely you’ll find that scores of people struggle in the same ways as you. In the hands of the right friend, you’re safe. Find someone who you can trust with what you pour out.
I don’t want you to gossip. I’m not asking you to find someone who will encourage you down the wrong path, and spur you on in your sin. I’m asking you to find a trustworthy friend, who will tell you straight up when you’re being foolish, and will take those moments to encourage you into godly wisdom.
Be willing to be that friend.
It’s lovely to have a good friend, but we should all strive to be that friend. You don’t have to know your Bible cover to cover to encourage someone in the ways of the Lord. Listen to them. Pray with them. Be trustworthy- don’t go sharing everything you’ve been told with others. Share what you know God says about their struggle (or look it up and get back to them later), and in your own personal Bible Study, it’s likely you’ll come across verses that apply to something they’re going through.
But isn’t God enough on His own?
Let me be clear on this. I DO believe that God is more than enough for us. He should be first in your life and priorities. He is the most important part of any relationship, which is why I’m encouraging you to find a friend who knows and loves Jesus, and can encourage you in your walk with Him.
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Ephesians 4:15-16 “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (We are each different parts of Christ’s body-the church. We are to build each other up in love, this is one way we can do that.)
I am not discrediting God’s “more than enough-ness” by saying that it is important that you have trustworthy and encouraging friends. There is just something fantastic about being a mom, and being encouraged by another mom that things will get easier- (or be warned that things will get a little crazier 😜), or as a wife to have someone else sharing how they got through tough stuff in marriage, or a sister in Christ to show you that it is possible to have a lively and consistent walk with God, etc. Do you see what I’m saying?
So what can I take away from this to try this week?
1. Just be a friend. Next time you ask “how are you?” Be intentional in the way you ask. Try asking: “What has blessed you this week?” But also follow up with “What are you battling this week?” Or “How can I be praying for you?”
How to be friendly:
- Call them. See how they are. Check in if you haven’t heard from them for a while. (News Flash: you don’t always have to be the first one to be contacted)
- Send a text. “How are you?” “This verse reminded me of your recent struggle:____ I hope it is encouraging to you.”
- Send a card. Who doesn’t love getting some old school mail??
- Go out of your way to make them feel loved. Take them for coffee, get their fave snack, help them clean their house, watch their kids, get together even when life is crazy, make them a meal, help them move…. You get the idea. Get creative!
2. Refuse to Gossip. Make a commitment right now to not seek gossip. When you ask “what can I pray for?”, you’re using that information for prayer alone. Then, commit to never gossip or share about what someone else has entrusted to you, without their permission. (Unless they’re in danger, obviously)
3. Pray for them. Really. Even if it’s just a few minutes every day. Don’t tell someone you will pray for them when you know it’s not happening. (I’ve been guilty of this!) “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” James 5:16
4. Be real. Enough with this fancy display of who you want others to think you are. It can feel impossible to ever feel comfortable around people who try to portray themselves as nearly flawless. We all have an image of ourselves that we hope to someday be, and hopefully that is that we want to be like Jesus. Yes, be above reproach, please don’t be sinful as you let yourself be real. If you’re following Christ I believe you’re probably at least trying to be like Him, so it’s not fake to put your old ways behind you. But don’t be afraid to let people see that you don’t always do everything right.
Encourage. Love. Extend grace. Have compassion.
& PLEASE BE REAL WITH ME.
I want to know your heart. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in your thoughts. I want you to see that you aren’t the only one feeling sometimes hopeless. I want you to know that there is a God who understands your struggles, more than I ever could. That I’d love to a be a light for Him, and show you the depths of brokenness I’ve been to and how God’s grace has brought me back up, over and over. I will try my best to build you up, and to never tear you down. Pinky promise.