Friends show up!

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

As a leader working in churches, I’ve obviously come alongside my share of people who have experienced grief and tragedy and loss. Typically, in a situation where one is hurting and/or grieving, they fall into three different categories:

  1. you know of them,
  2. you know them, but you’re not on “friend” status, or
  3. you’re friends with them (obviously the depth scale of friendship is broad: friend to good friend to great friend to best friends).

I’m sure there are appropriate responses for each of those types of categories when friends are hurting, but I want to share what I’ve learned from (3)…my friends.

When my mom was in the hospital, then on hospice, and then when I had to deal with post-death details, I felt extremely exhausted and lonely.

During those three weeks, I realized that I’ve been an average friend to my friends who have experienced crisis. Here’s what happened in my situation: almost every one of my friends made contact, told me they were praying for me, family, mom, etc., and most said and/or wrote, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” It’s a very sweet and genuine gesture. Actually, it’s EXACTLY the type of gesture that I’ve expressed in the past. Exactly!

But here is what I learned during those three weeks that has changed my response: I’m not just offering up help, I’m showing up. (I’m embarrassed it took so long to learn.)

Everyone offers to help! I’ve done this so many times. But, very few people actually show up. In this particular crisis with my mom, I had a couple buddies who showed up in my life every single day during those three weeks. Everyday they made their presence known via voicemail, text, or they came by to see what I needed…the method changed, but the message was the same—“I’m here for you. What can I do to help you?” Most of the time I didn’t need anything, but their persistence and their presence was powerful, and their persistence was much more meaningful than I would have thought.

These friends taught me so much and exposed the weakness in friendship I’ve displayed for years. Yes, I’ve experienced Bible college, seminary, and 30 years in the church and I’m still learning how to live in community and be more aware of the needs of others.

Showing up is scary. It triggers fears: “I may just be getting in the way.” “They probably want their space.” “They just need to be alone.”

When people are hurting, most don’t want to be alone. They’re waiting for their friends to show up.

Question: What have you learned “being there” for people in their pain? Share here.


[Are you getting Doug’s daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

  • Hector1217

    Many years ago our senior pastor died due to a motorcycle accident. The church was now in the hands of our senior pastor’s wife, myself and my wife(we where the youth pastors at the time). A good friend of mine that lived about 5hrs away showed up to just be there.

    His presence was needed and his support was felt. I told him what had happened and the next day he was there. Never once tole me he was going to be there.

    It was a tough time but looking back now I see the importance of “Showing up”

    Knowing you have a friend backing you helps us get through those tough times.

    I have learned a lesson and will reflect what I’ve seen.

    • dougfields

      wow! that is a good friend!

  • Mays

    I am trying to learn to error on the side of demonstrative love, rather than passive love. “I wonder if I should do something.?” “Do something!”

    • dougfields

      good learning!

  • Pingback: Kind Words & Learnings in a Difficult Time for Saddleback Church | More Than Dodgeball()

  • Susan from Rochester

    It might not seem like a lot but I have found meals for those going through tough times are wonderful. I used to do it for new parents. As I have gotten older, it is more likely because of illness or injury. I have been “repaid” this way when my daughter was seriously injured. People brought meals. Sure I could have made something but it sure did make a difference. Mostly the love that was spread. We are blessed to have a way to share beyond prayers!

    • dougfields

      nice way of saying it… “beyond prayers”… sometimes the tangible is really powerful.

  • Pingback: Friends show up! – | Pastor Leaders()

  • Pingback: Friends show up! – | Church Ministry()

  • Pingback: Trending: Thoughts, viewpoints, and ideas on the incidents in Boston - Your The Man Jesus()