women supporting each other

One of my favorite things about meeting here AT THE CROSSROADS is the opportunity this platform gives me to share the faith stories of women whom God has placed on my path.

One of my sweetest and dearest friends, Esther Morse, shared her story last year to a group of women.

She called it her journey to thankfulness through breast cancer.

Wow. Pretty amazing, right?

That going through something as physically, emotionally and spiritually difficult and draining would lead one to more gratitude just blows me away.

But that is how God works in our lives if we let Him. She definitely did and now has a story to tell!

One of the most powerful and helpful things she shared was a list of some practical DO’s and DON’T’s of how to act when a friend is going through a rough time.

It could be breast cancer or another serious illness…but it could also be the death of a loved one, depression/anxiety, the loss of a job, a divorce, or a wayward child.

She shared so lovingly and gently that everyone who heard her was convicted and challenged. With her permission, I asked to share her words of wisdom. I think you will appreciate them as much as I did. Thank you, Esther!

HERE ARE SOME DON’T’s when it comes to a friend who is struggling:

- Please DON’T say, “Let me know if you need anything.” That puts the burden on the person who is going through a lot. You will most likely not hear from us. If you think of something to do, just do it.

- Please DON’T keep quiet or avoid saying anything because you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. Don’t feel like you have to have the perfect “Christian” words. We want and need to know that we are loved, cared about, and being prayed for. It is very easy to connect without being uncomfortable: a text, an email, or a note in the mail can be a great encouragement.

- Please DON’T post things on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) unless we initiate it. Some people are way too private for that, while others are okay with it. Either way, ask first, be sensitive, and follow our lead.

- Please DON’T say, “You’re so strong.” This may surprise you, but this puts pressure on us to gather up any strength and energy on our own. Rather, remind us that it’s God who is strong. A verse that meant so much to me, especially when I was feeling weak, was:

“My flesh & my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26.

- If too much time has passed and you haven’t made contact with the person, but you run into them, please DON”T say, “I was a terrible friend.” It puts the struggling friend in the position of making you feel better. Simply offer a hug (if you’re a woman), and say, “I wish I had reached out to you during this time; how are you feeling now?”

HERE ARE SOME DO’s she shared about how her friends came alongside her during this time.

She gives a TOP TEN LIST of the things that meant the most to her:

10. They organized a schedule and brought meals. Some of you are experts at this and so good at it. May I suggest if this is “not your thing,” please be aware that food is still such a loving way to reach out. Gift cards to a restaurant or a grocery store are a great alternative. This also blesses the family members in a huge way!

9. They helped me pull off my son’s high school graduation party. This was no small feat. They helped me organize, shop, cook, decorate, plant flowers, serve, and clean up. If your friend has an event to pull off, this is especially meaningful because they don’t want a family member to miss something because of what they are going through.

8. They sent cards. I would never have thought this would be so meaningful, but I have saved every one. There were times I maybe didn’t feel up to talking, but the Lord knew when I would need encouragement because a card would show up in the mail.

7. They gave me gifts. One friend gave me a small gift after each chemo treatment as way of celebrating the small victories during this painful journey.

6. They showed kindness. The reality of my world seemed harsh, but they were kind. This word has become a special one to me. My friends were kind and it cushioned me with the feeling of safety.

“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” 
Job 6:14

5. They remembered important dates. They knew when my treatments were scheduled. On those dates, they would text or email me scripture and words of encouragement.

4. They showed up in practical ways. They drove me to radiation treatments when I was too tired to drive myself.

3. They kept in contact. They understood that this was a long process. They were physically and emotionally reliable.

2. They would talk with me about things that had nothing to do with cancer. Regular things, funny things, everyday things. I didn’t want my identity to be always wrapped up in cancer and they helped me feel “normal.”

1. They prayed for and over me.

I hope these DO’s and DON’T’s are as helpful to you as they are to me!

I am so grateful for my dear friend and for the privilege it has been to walk alongside of her during this difficult journey. She has encouraged, inspired, challenged and amazed me. I am a better woman because she is in my life.

Please use these practical guidelines and reach out to a friend who may be struggling today.

Now is the time, so don’t wait!

Grab her hand, look into her eyes, and tell her you will walk with her even if the path is rough and rocky ahead…

And if you have more DO’s or DON’T’s to add, please share them in the comments below.

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Originally posted by Carla Gasser on AT THE CROSSROADS