1 Timothy 4:12 - Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Whether good or bad you’re going to be an example to those around you.
What do you want others to see in you?
Take care with what you do and say. It may be difficult to speak kindly to others sometimes, but doing so reaps a rich relationship where your friends truly feel that you care.
This will be the result:
You may feel afraid to look out for others before yourself. But you may be surprised at how good you feel about your life when it’s centered on someone other than yourself.
Kellyexeter.com.au, in their article, “5 Easy Things We Can All Do to Look Out For Each Other,” says that you may think you don’t have enough time to take care of yourself let alone others, but in fact, you do. The article has some ideas such as give people the benefit of the doubt because you don’t know what’s going on in their lives, and ditch the sarcasm and snark for cheering people up.
Even though the Bible verse above speaks about a young person, the second part talks about the kind of example you set. We are to be an example that God can use to show the world his love, through our speech and deeds. And this is the kind of example that will answer the question to what you want others to see in you in a positive way. Be that example, and others will notice.
Job 12:13 - “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”
You’re in the middle of a conversation when your friend pauses. You wait for them to continue when the empty space becomes longer and longer. The space in the conversation remains unanswered which leads you to fill in the blanks whether they’re true or not.
Then your friend picks up your conversation, except, they now change to a totally different subject. It’s like there was something they were about to say, but decided not to.
But their change in direction leaves you with more unanswered questions, and you wonder if your friend has something to hide or the conversation was nearing a place where they were hurt in the past.
There are several important things to understand about the empty spaces:
Phoenixaustralia.org, in their article, “Helping Others,” lists ways you can help your family member or friend such as showing them that you are there to support them and when they are ready to talk you’ll be there for them understanding that they may get upset and you’ll need to choose a time to talk when they won’t be interrupted, or feel rushed or tired.
Also realize that you won’t be making that difficult conversation alone. God is the God of wisdom, power, counsel and understanding. He will gently guide you, because he knows that you want to help the person you care about. In addition, know that God will also guide the other person know just how deeply to reveal the hurt they are experiencing. Together, you both may be ready to fill in the empty spaces in your conversation, and move on.
Colossians 4:6 - Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
It’s common when having a conversation to start a new thought, and part way in forget what the thought was. Perhaps you and your friend chuckle a little about it, but there’s no chuckling going on when your mind goes blank due to emotional pain.
It’s easy to find your mind drifting away into a safe, hiding place when a conversation begins to head toward the direction of the pain that lies just below the surface.
You want to run away.
You want to be anywhere but with your friend.
You want to talk about anything, but what has just been drug up to the surface.
What do you do? Do you take the risk and explain to your friend that you aren’t able to talk about your pain? Maybe you do. Yet, your mind draws a blank on how to begin.
What if your listener really doesn’t care about your struggle? They just want to enjoy a fun conversation and not get too deeply into a discussion. Is that okay?
It’s really up to you. You might think about testing the waters by talking about a milder memory. Then you can see if your listener is receptive to talking on a more personal level.
Plus, do you really want to constantly talk about serious matters? Maybe not. But the pain is still beneath the surface. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have drawn a blank.
Lifehacker.com has some ideas on broaching difficult conversations in their article, “Four Ways to Make Difficult, Serious Conversations more Productive.” One of their suggestions is to “level and edit your thoughts” by sharing from your perspective and using “I’m feeling,” statements; along with realizing that not everything that comes to mind should be shared. Another is when in doubt, slow down the conversation by turning slightly away from your friend while still continuing to talk.
Drawing a blank when a conversation is headed toward emotional pain that lies just beneath the surface can be difficult to get past. But with the help of the suggestions in the article above, you may find that you can test the waters before plunging in, and find a way to share your feelings without making the conversation only about serious matters.
When making a special dish, it’s important to not forget to add seasonings to the food. Without a little salt, your meal will taste plain. The same is true of conversations. You must show grace to your listener and be patient with yourself if you happen to draw a blank when the discussion hits emotional waters. God can help tell you the right words (seasonings), to add at the right time so that both parties end the conversation with a better understanding of where you each stand.
How Far Do You Go to Help Someone?
You see a friend heading in the wrong direction. If they continue on this course of action they’ll get hurt. But will you risk hurting your relationship with them if you try to stop them?
Each day we all make choices:
Some are good.
Some are bad.
Some make a difference.
Some don’t make much of a difference.
Some make people happy.
Some make them angry.
You get the gist. But what if while we’re walking down our path of life we run into someone who is headed for a cliff? You start walking toward them. They increase their pace. You increase yours. They’re almost to the edge. You shout out, “Stop! You’re going to fall!”
But they ignore you.
And as you run towards them, they jump.
This may be a drastic example, but it can happen. It may be that they’ve been altering figures in the accounting department a friend works in, but no one’s noticed, so they keep doing it. But truthfully, someone has noticed. You. You sit down with them and explain that they may not only lose their job, but they could end up in jail.
But they don’t listen.
Do you risk your friendship, by threatening to tell the boss what you’re friend’s doing? After all, you could be in trouble too because you know what they’ve been doing and haven’t reported it yet.
Your friend may have told you recently that their doctor told them to stop eating fried foods and sugar because their arteries are clogged. They’re heading fast toward a heart attack. You sit down with them after their appointment, and try to help them by showing them some diet and exercise changes that they can make. You tell them you’re with them all the way, and they can count on your help.
But they don’t listen.
Once again, do you risk your friendship by telling their wife how bad it is? Your friend doesn’t want you to, because he knows she’ll be furious with him and make him go on a diet. But isn’t saving their life more important than losing your friendship?
In both of these examples, it’s a matter of how far you are willing to go to help a friend. Cnn.com posts the article, “Self-destructive Friends – What to do?” The article discusses roots of self-destructive behavior, setting boundaries and helping someone for the wrong reasons. They also discuss one way to finding a balance in helping someone is to set expectations, but don’t make demands.
When wanting to stop a friend before they jump off a cliff, it’s important to think about how far you are willing to go to help someone. If they are in mortal danger, by all means help them or get them the help they need. Remember, if you think someone is in such a bad place that they’re talking about killing themselves dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
It’s important to be the kind of friend who will help another when they fall down, but be careful. Your friendship may be at stake, and your life may be affected in a negative way if you go too far when helping a friend. Find some balance, and ask God to give you the wisdom to know what to do.
Isaiah 57:18 - I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him.
It’s one thing to hit a road block.
It’s one thing to get side tracked.
It’s one thing to lose your way.
It’s one thing to say, “This just can’t be happening.”
You see, it’s one thing when it’s our life that has been road blocked, side traced, to have lost your way and to not believe what is happening in your life.
Pain hurts. It burns inside our hearts. We want to give up. Throw in the towel. Cry until there’s nothing left to cry for.
But when it’s someone you care about that’s hurting, there just aren’t words to what you feel.
There are times when someone you care about decides by their own choices to take a wrong path and finds themselves hurting; but when it’s nothing that they’ve done to cause it, it digs deep into our hearts and we find ourselves wanting to take their pain away.
And maybe you can help with that.
Here are some ideas:
When someone else is hurting, it can be difficult to know what to do about it. Here are some additional suggestions on what you can do on huffpost.com in their article, “5 Powerful Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain,” including let the person have their pain. Don’t try to talk them out of their feelings. Also, ask the person what they need. They may want to talk to you, but they also may want to be left alone for now.
As the Bible verse above says, know that God sees the pain your friend or family member is experiencing, and has said that he will heal them. He will guide them to the help they need and restore comfort to them. Be ready to be part of that process, if called upon to do so.
Hebrews 13:2 - Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Close your eyes and remember.
Remember the smells floating from the kitchen.
Remember hearing laughter sailing in from the living room.
Remember the sound of the doorbell.
Touch your face and remember the smile that used to live there.
And parties for just hanging out with friends.
Open your eyes to see the joy in your family’s eyes, but wait. You don’t throw parties anymore. You lost the gift of hospitality and with it the joy washed off your family’s faces.
You used to be good at throwing a party and making the guests laugh as your funny stories went around the table. It was the thing that you did best – making others happy and feeling at home at your place.
But what happened?
Depression crept in and anxiety was hanging on your apron string as well.
At first you thought that you were working too hard and that’s why you felt tired all of the time. The cost of food went up and that’s why you worried about what it would cost to pay for a party. Then the doubts started piling up. Maybe the new recipe you made wasn’t really all that great and the guests were just being kind. After all, no one said how good the food was. Were they ungrateful or had you lost your touch in the kitchen?
So you lost that certain something that used to make you the life of the party. Now, you hardly want to crawl out of bed to make breakfast in the morning.
What do you do when something you used to love became something you dreaded? You started making excuses for canceling dinner invitations. Then you stopped planning parties and marking your calendar. You simply took the calendar off the wall and shoved it in with the pots and pans.
Let’s not forget, also, that hospitality isn’t just about a party at your home. Take a look at the article, “9 Ways to Show Hospitality When Hospitality is Hard,” on IntentionalByGrace.com. The article shows that hospitality goes beyond having people over for dinner to taking your hospitality to their homes. This is especially important to someone new at your job or church. You can do this by inviting them out for lunch, or you could show up at their door with a hot casserole or a fancy cup of coffee. This way you open a door for friendship and it may be that it will also help you have the courage to open up your home to others and find that gift of hospitality once again. And just as the Bible verse above says you never know the person you show hospitality to may be an angel in disguise.
1 Timothy 5:4 - But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
You glance at the clock one more time. It’s six-thirty and you’re still at work. You have a deadline to make. You have to stay late and finish it, right?
But with every choice we make in life, there is always a consequence for that choice. Right now the choice you have is to finish the project at work that you’ve been working on all week regardless of the toll it takes home.
You glance at your calendar. How did the end of the month come so quickly this year? But you had to finish. Your family would understand, right? It may be Friday and you know it’s game night and your family will be upset that you’re missing it, but they’d miss the paycheck wouldn’t they, if you lost your job? But would you lose your family in the end by too many late nights at work?
It’s not fair that no matter what you choose, someone’s going to be disappointed in you. Maybe by now your family would understand, or maybe they would stop caring if you even showed up.
Kids get the brunt of this argument. They know that you’re missing out on their life.
At first they may feel sad inside
Then they may start accepting your excuses
But then they begin to believe that they’re just not that important to them
This then begins to brew a pot of anger
But then something happens –
And they get used to life without any coffee.
They don’t need you anymore. They’ve found friends to hang out with. And even if you finally figured out what you’ve been missing by not being home for your family, it’ll be too late.
You’ve lost your family.
There are a few people who seem to have figured out how to balance work and family, but you haven’t quite figured it out.
Before you took your first job, it would’ve been nice if someone had held a seminar on how to make it in this fast paced world and still have a great home life. So what are some things we can do to balance work and family? Familylives.org.uk,in their article, “How to Keep a Work-life Balance,” has some great ideas such as come in relaxed.Your family will notice when you are stressed and that will affect them. An important idea is to come in and eat with your children even if it’s just a snack after work. Sitting down with your family together will help them know that you may be busy, but you still care about them and their needs. This way you won’t lose your family.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. Though this post isn’t about widows necessarily, it still applies to the topic. We must learn to put what we believe into action by caring for our families first. This doesn’t mean that we should not work hard, but we acknowledge that taking care of our families is pleasing to God. In all we do every day whether it is at home or at our jobs, we need to make sure our priorities are in the right place. Let’s be sure to put things the way they were meant to be. In this way you’ll make sure that you haven’t lost your family.
Psalm 55:12-13 - If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend.
Life is hard.
You see, just as you think life is done hurting you, the most painful thing of them all happens – Your loved one hates you. This pain can be even more deeply felt than when you lose a loved one in death.
That statement is going to make some people angry with me, but when you stand in the face of spoiled fruit ready to turn into rancid words and actions; you’ll know what I mean. And, while all the time you don’t have a clue of what you’ve done to make your loved one hate you.
And though we said that we couldn’t do this anymore, when your loved one crosses your path you still try to reach out to them but to no avail.
Is there anything we can do to stop our loved one from hating us? Aren’t our tears enough? Aren’t our efforts to make amends enough? Where did we go so wrong?
Coolcatteacher.com posts the article, “What to do When Someone Hates You.” It provides good advice, such as realizing that not every criticism is motivated by hate and committing not to hate back the one who is hurting us, because ultimately hating hurts the hater most of all.
The Bible verse above is taken from a time in the life of Israel’s King David when he was fleeing for his life. As he fled a close friend turned on him. If it had been an enemy he could’ve endured it, but not someone he cared about. David was saddened for what appeared to be the loss of his close friend.
We can face the same situation except in our case it is a loved one who decides to turn on us. But we must take the high road and not turn on them and throw insults their way. It is God we can depend on just as King David did. God can be our comfort. He is our ultimate loved one and will never speak unkindly about us or become our enemy. Trust that love and maybe someday, you’ll find your loved one no longer hates you.
James 1:19 - My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Your hands are shaking and sweating, so you stick them in your pockets. The conversation between your friends and you keeps moving forward in all directions at break neck speed.
You’re trying to keep up, but you just can’t. You try to stay connected to the conversation, but you’re mind starts to focus so much on what you may say that you get left behind. For you, it’s a constant battle trying to keep up.
Then, the conversation pauses and everyone is looking at you.
“Oh, no!” you think. “Why are they looking at me? Did they ask me for my opinion?” So what do you do? Instead of calmly asking them to repeat their question, you open your mouth and out come the wrong words.
When battling anxiety and depression, it is often difficult to keep up with conversations and the directions they’re going in. You’re constantly juggling your thoughts and their words.
You face the battle of trying to keep up.
So you have several choices:
But is it such a bad idea to be slow to speak? Do we always have to be ready with a quick word that means nothing in the midst of the conversation? Just speaking constantly is not a good idea either.
How your friends respond to you will tell whether or not you’re going to go down in defeat or catch a break. Take a look at wikihow.com’s article, “How to Continue a Conversation.” The article will show you how to have a meaningful conversation such as taking a look at your surroundings. It can be easy to talk about the weather or a building that’s close by so that you’ll have something real to share. Also, in the article you’ll find out how to be an active listener such as listening as much as you speak.
With the help of the article above, you’ll find yourself better prepared and that it’s easier to stay caught up in a conversation. Then the next time you’re surrounded by those friends looking at you for a response, you’ll have something in your back pocket to pull out and speak about. Before long, you’ll learn as the Bible verse above says, that it is valuable for you to be quick to listen and slow to speak. You’ll find it easier to stay caught up and be able to interject something worthwhile to the conversation.
Psalm 142:1, 2 – I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
You meet someone in the grocery store line.
You see them again the next day at the dentist.
As the days go by, you find yourself running into each other, and with each time you see them you learn a little more about them.
It’s so easy. The relationship grows in a natural course and you wonder if they could be your new best friend.
But then, inevitably you disagree about a subject. You brush it aside feeling that everyone has disagreements. But it doesn’t stop.
You try to see both sides of the situation but no matter what you say; the relationship falls apart.
It’s sad to lose someone who you thought you were close to. You never imagined you’d find someone who liked the things you liked, is funny, and kind. But each of us is capable of picking up an offense and running with it.
So now what? Sometimes the “what” becomes standing aloof and keeping conversations short. Your heart is hurting, so you close the door for anyone to be close to you again.
That’s not how life was meant to be lived. We are social people and naturally crave to be with others. But how do you move beyond lost relationships and open up your heart again? Tinybuddha.com posts the article, “How to Let Go of a Past Relationship: 10 Steps to Move on Peacefully.” They suggest letting yourself feel. Losing a relationship can feel like a mini-death, complete with a grieving process so let yourself grieve.
Losing a relationship may cause you to decide not to let someone into your life again. Instead of avoiding relationships talk to God about them. Pour out your complaint, your troubles to him. God hears your voice and will help you open up your heart and find another friend even if it hurts.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.