Many of us have gone through tough times in life. It’s hard to escape your teenage years without bullying and insecurity. Most people admit to feeling depressed at some stage of their life. What gets us through these difficult times are usually two things: our friends and family who support us and our faith in a good God.
When a friend opens up and tells you that something is wrong, or when you figure out something is wrong – it’s always difficult to know what to do. What should you say and how should you act? Is there a wrong way or a right way to behave and what if something you say makes everything worse. It’s never easy to know what is or isn’t the right thing to do. However, there are some principles which can help you to make the right decision.
If you see something, say something
People who are struggling with things usually find it difficult to open up or try to hide that they are desperately unhappy. If you start to realise something is wrong, or if your friend says something which makes you concerned then silence is not the right way to deal with it. When something like this comes up you should try to encourage your friend to talk to you about it. Be as kind as you can in the conversation and let them know that they can trust you. Be gentle and reassuring. In times like this it is very important that the person who is struggling has someone to share things with.
Ask questions like, “what has made you feel this way?”
Or “How can I help you?”
Look for opportunities to be kind
It may just be that your friend is going through something at home or is dealing with some internal issues. You don’t know. The best thing is to be very kind. Call your friend in the evenings, or text them to make sure they are okay. Go out of your way to be kind to them. Check that they are not left alone as much as you can. Include them if you are going out in the evenings or buy them coffee when you are at work. These little things can remind them that someone cares and that life is worthwhile.
Try being encouraging and pointing them to a better future.
Someone who is going through something difficult may be very inconsistent. They may not arrive at events they said they would attend. They may seem okay one day and then not the next. Your job as a friend is to be as consistent as you can. Stay calm and try not to let their troubles get you down. Even the smallest change in your mood or attitude could have a big effect on them as they are fragile and hurt.
Remember anything they say to you isn’t a reflection on you, rather it’s a reflection of what they are going through.
Get professional help
You can not counsel someone. If they are dealing with something serious then they need professional help. You need to help them with this. They may not feel like they need this, but your silence could have a huge effect if their issue is real. Most churches have a pastor or someone who is available to help and counsel them with their problem.
Often there are hotlines which you can call if you are genuinely concerned that your friend may be in immediate danger of making a bad decision.
There is power in prayer. When things get difficult and you don’t know what to say then you should always remember that you have access to a power which is greater than you. Praying for your friend is one of the best things you can do in this difficult time. No situation is too big for God, so reach out to Him in your time of need and encourage your friend to reach out too. God’s love is infinite and we can trust with the things we can not carry.