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Friends and How To Help

This week while some were overwhelmed by the state of origin loss, I was dealing with more weighty questions like: What do you say to someone trying to cope with the death of a partner or a child? How do you encourage someone going through the pain of separation and divorce? What words of support can you give someone who is preparing for deployment whose partner is just coming to grips with the risks involved? What hope can you offer members who have just agreed to go on posting unaccompanied by their partners or those struggling to survive in that arrangement?

All these people are anxious and fearful about what the future will mean for them. They feel lonely and isolated. My job is to help them! Where do I start? I do lots of listening, but what these people really want is some answers to the ultimate ‘why’ questions. There are none, however I try to lead the discussion towards four things:

  • Hope! We all need aims and goals to help us to see out of the pit we feel we are in. What might start as vague dreams should end with an action plan that can be written down, with specific short, medium and long term steps towards healing.
  • Encouragement! What have you got that you can be thankful for? Although everything might look black, there are times for all of us when we need help to see the rays of light that are there. Your words of support might make all the difference.
  • Love! The need to be loved is universal – and at this point you might feel that no-one loves you but I am here to assure you that God loves you and cares about how you feel. Are you prepared to ask for his help to get you back on top? No matter what you have been through he cares, and so do a range of other people.
  • Perseverance! You might not be in control of some of the circumstances that brought you to this point, but it is your choice what you do now. There are no quick easy answers, but if you keep moving forward one step at a time you can make it!

To offer those things you do not need to be a counsellor, you just need to be a friend. In my experience it is not what you say that makes the difference, it is just being there, and showing that you care. What are you doing today, and this week to HELP those who are struggling? Maybe all the blues supporters need this as well.

Chaplain Ian Whitley

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