If you came over from the Encouragement for Today devotion, welcome! I’m so glad you are here. We are in a month-long conversation about rest. Today’s topic is a perfect fit.
What do you do when a friend shares that they are afraid? It might make you afraid because you don’t know what to say. You don’t know how to help.
This month’s conversation is about rest. Today’s topic fits perfectly because we have the ability to sit with a friend and help her find rest when she’s struggling with fear.
This week I asked 300 of my closest #livingfreetogether friends what helps, and what doesn’t. They kept circling around to the same 10 things. Let’s take a look at those together.
10 Ways to Encourage a Friend Who Struggles With Fear
Pray with her
Prayer doesn’t need to be fancy or eloquent. Praying with her, right then, shows her that you care.
I have a friend named Pam. She prays right on the spot, no matter where we are at. If she knows I’m in a battle, she’ll lean in and put her arms around me. The prayer might be, “Jesus, be with my friend,” and suddenly I feel bathed in those praying words.
Words of affirmation are powerful when fear strikes. One friend told me that the most powerful words someone shared with her were, “You are courageous.” This friend shared all the ways that she was brave, and how she tapped into her faith. Until that moment, fear had a stranglehold. Words of affirmation allowed my friend to see herself through a different perspective.
Remind a friend of a time when God was faithful. Fear tends to create memory loss in those areas. As you share with her the times that God walked with her, how he loved her, and how she came out on the other side, fear is balanced with stories of faith and truth.
Sometimes words are inadequate. Touch is powerful. A hand in yours. A hug. Sitting knee to knee as you let her know physically that she’s not alone.
Touch says, “I’m here,” and that’s comforting even when there are no words.
Look her in the eye
Put away the phone completely. Listen to her. Let her know that you are tuned in. One of the quickest ways to let someone know that you aren’t listening is to have your eyes on a phone or TV, rather than looking her in the eye when she’s spilling her soul.
There is no technology greater than the person standing in front of you. #livingfreetogether… Click To Tweet
One woman said, “Share scripture as if I’ve never heard them before.” You can write them down. You can speak them over her. You can whisper them, weaving them into your prayer. There is power in the Word of God!
She may feel fear, but she’s still brave. Validate her strength. Validate the times she’s faced fear and overcome, with God’s help. Validate her honesty in sharing. Be careful not to identify her by her feelings, but rather by her courage in identifying those feelings.
It’s okay to say, “I’m sorry. That’s really hard.” Sometimes we face scary things. It’s okay to acknowledge that. Be truthful in your encouragement. Don’t promise what you can’t give. Don’t tell her it’s going to be okay, if you don’t know that to be true. Back that up with what is true. You will be her friend. God is faithful. She is resilient. She is not alone.
Create a “No Condemnation” zone
When someone shares that they are struggling with fear, it’s not the time to tell them that they shouldn’t be afraid. That they should have more faith. That they should know better. Fear has a way of beating up those who battle it, and we don’t have to join in. Create a no condemnation zone, just like God does for us (Romans 8:1).
Save your stories for later
There are times that are perfect to share your own story of being afraid, but sometimes it can invalidate what they just said. You are telling a bigger story. You were more afraid. You faced big circumstances.
Years ago when I was diagnosed with Stage 2B cancer, I realized the negative power of story. Well-meaning people told me the story of an aunt/cousin/brother/mother who also had cancer and suffered incredibly, and they had faith all the way to the very end. . . That person walked away somehow feeling they had comforted me with a similar story. I was left in the room, stumbling to my knees, begging God to take away the heap of fear they just shoveled over a young mama’s heart.When we top a story with our own, we invalidate the fact that they just opened up to us.… Click To Tweet
I’d love to hear from you. What is one way that you were encouraged when struggling with fear?
We are giving away several fun items all month. When I struggle with fear, I turn on the worship. I raise my hands and I begin to thank God for who he is. Those words draw me closer to him, and distance fear from my thoughts.
I’m giving away a $10 ITune Giftcard! To enter, comment below.
Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (NIV)
- The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, is a healing resource for women, no matter what you are going through.
If you want to take today’s conversation deeper, you might love these posts!