“That was the worst time of my life. I never knew that emotional pain could get physical.” A friend of mine, lets call her Jane says. I don’t know how this conversation started. All I know is that we are here now. Jane’s regular nightmare became reality when her parents separated. The separation greatly affected her. She developed ulcers and her studies took a slide downhill, causing her to be served with an academic leave by the university.”
“I knew my life was over. I contemplated suicide. I didn’t really want to die. I was just tired of the pain.” She says, wiping tears from eyes.
You may not relate to every part of Jane’s story, but there is something we can all relate to, pain. We have all experienced pain in different degrees. It could be from a heartbreak, family separation, health issue, or even something as little as getting home only to find that there’s no food (I know that hurts).
When going through something, we need people who will walk with us and help us out. It hurts when the people we look up to for support face the other way. “I remember opening up to a friend of mine, it took a lot of effort and tears to get the story out. When I was done, she told me that she will pray for me and it will be okay. I appreciated that. I mean, who doesn’t want someone remembering her in prayers? However, that was the last time we talked of the issue. She never wanted to know how I was doing after that.”
How many of us have gone through something of the sort? Or how many times have we given that response?
Praying for someone is a pure expression of love. But prayer needs to be accompanied by action. And if we were to be really honest, we would admit that sometimes we tell people “I’ll pray for you” only as an excuse not do anything else. Or you remember them when praying for breakfast, “Father thank you for something to eat. Amen. Oh, I almost forgot, bless Kelvin. Amen” and when you meet with Kevin, you are very confident to say you prayed for him, even though he is really struggling with something big and he needs more than a five seconds, by the way prayer.
Our reaction is quite understandable; pain makes us uncomfortable. Pain does not come with a manual. Neither does it come with a timeline. And sometimes we just want to run from it. But when our friends are hurting, we can surely do more. Beyond ‘I’ll pray for you’ what else can you do?
Listening is an art. It feels heavenly when someone takes time to listen. Sometimes, that is all we need, someone to listen to us.
Do something that your friend is unable to do at the moment. Help them with assignment, do shopping for them, take them to the doctor if they have an appointment, or just feed their pet.
Giving your time to someone especially when they’re hurting shows that you really care. Try spending time with them whenever possible. You can cook together, watch a movie, or even go out. If it is not possible to meet with them, make video chats or phone calls regularly. This gives them a chance to pour out their hearts and still have a good time with people they care about.
You may not know how to help someone. Some situations can be so complicated for you to handle. Ask them what they need and how you can help and be committed to actually doing it.
I am not trying to downplay the importance of prayer here. Prayer does wonders. So when someone is going through a rough time, pray for them, like seriously. Whenever possible, hug them or hold their hands and just pray with them. There’s such great power in that act.