This past year has been a struggle. My husband and I found out we were infertile, I began to struggle with chronic illness, and depression slowly seeped its way into the corners of my life. As the week goes on, I often struggle through the week. Sundays are often the hardest. Walking into the house of the Lord, meeting with the people of God, it’s a constant reminder that all is not as it should be.
I have some friends who have kept their distance and not understood that, despite canceled plans and the frequent answer “no,” I do really value them. I have others who have stood in the gap and warded off the enemy’s attacks through the ministry of meals and open doors.
Everyone has a “me” in their life. Even I have friends who are deeper in the trenches of life than I am. All of us strive to be the hands and feet of Christ. Here are a few practical ways to stand in the gap for your friend.
1) Drop Off Flowers
The day my husband left for his first deployment, I got a text from a friend telling me to look outside. She knew that I was probably feeling low and not wanting to see anyone, but she wanted to lift my spirits. On my porch, I found a small, potted flower. My friend Lisa, that sweet woman, wanted to make me smile. She reminded me of the beauty in the world. I’m pretty sure I promptly killed the flower but to this day, I still smile when I remember her kindness.
2) Host Them In Their Home
This one is hard to accept but during a particularly rough time with my illness, it was hard to leave the house. I had recently met woman at church and when she realized what was going on in my life, said she wanted to host me right where I was. She showed up with a grocery bag in hand, demanded that I stay on the couch and not clean-up, and promptly made me a chai tea latte. We sat for hours talking. Her company, her hospitality in my own home, was the beginning of a deep friendship.
3) Take Them Dinner
It is hard for me to accept dinner but oh, what a help this has been. The best dinners are the ones that reheat well and can be eaten on for a few days. When your going through a hard time, your appetite can fluctuate as much as your mood. Making something that they can eat on when they are up for it can be life-changing. Dropping them a freezer meal or bringing something to church can be equally helpful. Be sure to ask about any dietary restrictions. I am limited by dairy and feel like I’m burdening friends with an additional task if I mention this when they ask to bring me dinner. One friend asked and then smiled and said that it was an easy thing to work a dairy-free meal into the menu. That was a lie but the kindness put me at ease.
4) Keep In Touch
Depression particularly makes it difficult to muster up the energy to connect with friends. This past year has made me feel like such a joy-killer than I don’t want to inflict my presence on others. I’m so grateful for the friends who kept reaching out. Everyone has periods of their life when they can’t reciprocate as they’d wish. Whether it was a text of a funny meme or a note in the mail or an invitation for coffee, even bit of contact reminded me that I was a loved part of the Body of Christ. Medical treatments, new babies, moves – they all impact our lives. None of us are untouched by occasionally becoming the “checked out” friend. So when you’re checked in, remind your friends they are loved. Ask how you can pray for them, then follow-up. Call them just to say hey. Love them.
While these are all lovely ideas, the most important thing is to do something. Be there. Don’t be paralyzed by the fear or doing the wrong thing. Step out in faith and trust that God will use your efforts to do His work.