If I’ve learned anything from my struggles this past year it’s that even the smallest encouragement can mean the world when you’re having a rough time. But it isn’t always easy to encourage those who are struggling. We often feel at a loss for what to say and even the words that we do find have a tendency to sound empty or cliché.
Regardless, encouragement is too important to simply avoid, so here are some suggestions to help you out:
1). Write A Note
Even the shortest little “thinking of you, today” can mean so much and brighten a downcast day. This is why I love Facebook, because it’s so simple to stop by someone’s wall/timeline to post a quick word of encouragement and tell them you’re praying for them. But Facebook isn’t the only way! Our world is filled with many forms of communication and – if you have to – you can even get out a stamp and send your words the “old fashioned” way. 😉
Sometimes, you don’t even have to talk to be an encouragement to a friend. Being there to listen to their struggles can mean more than any words you can say.
3). Be Understanding And Patient
People won’t always tell you everything that they’re struggling with. Perhaps they’re fearful of what you’ll think of them or just overall tight-lipped about their situation; they may be struggling with something far greater than they feel comfortable sharing. So be sure that you do your best to be understanding and patient, keeping in mind that there may be aspects to the struggle that you don’t know about. Let them know that you’re there if they need you and allow them to open up in their own timing.
If you’re at a loss for what to do, ask your friend how you can help them in their struggle. If they can’t think of anything specific, think about what kinds of things encourage you and ask if any of those things would be helpful.
5). Figure Out Their “Love Language”
Not everyone’s emotional needs are met in the same way. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains the importance of learn to speak someone’s love language in order to love and encourage them better. While this book is directed towards married couples, the concept applies in other relationships as well (click here to read more about the five love languages).
6). Offer Truth
Whether it be a few encouraging bible verses, an article, a book, or lessons from your own struggles, don’t be afraid to offer truth in their time of need. It is when we are struggling that we begin to ask the most questions and our hearts are more open to receiving answers. God may use you to lovingly step on their toes and get their attention.
7). Pray With Them And For Them
It is such an encouragement for me to know how many people are praying for me as I endure this struggle. Whether they are right there holding my hand or hundreds of miles away as they lift me up in prayer, it means so much and I am grateful for it! Make sure your friend knows that they are in your prayers.
One of the greatest blessings of hardship is being able to encourage others through the lessons you are learning; it just seems to make things that much more worthwhile. Let your friend know the ways that they are encouraging you as they deal with this struggle.
9). Give Them Something To Look Forward To
Arrange a date to get together with them. One of the best ways to fight depression is to get out of the house and do something with somebody that you love, so plan to get together and give them something to look forward to; it will help get their mind off of their struggle and onto something they enjoy.
10). Don’t Be Afraid To Contact Them Often
While you don’t want to smother someone, daily encouragement can be extremely helpful. A quick call or text at the beginning of the day can put a much needed smile on their face. If your friend is struggling with depression, every day can be a fight to stay positive and a friend who is consistently encouraging can make a big difference.
What are some ways that you can encourage others? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? Leave your comment below!
“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” -Sally Koch
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success” -Unknown
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” -2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” -Edward Everett Hale