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The Incredible Power of Simply Being Present for a Friend

When someone you care about is struggling, a simple act, no words necessary, can help.

Comforting a friend
Credit: Getty Images

There are times in life when we don’t have the energy or faith to get through our problems. We can’t find the words to pray or the strength to push ahead. That’s when our friends carry us. When we are voiceless, they become our voice. When we are weak, they become our strength. When we are down, they lift us up.

Friends remind us through their actions that we are not alone—they stand with, pray and comfort us. Even when some friends don’t always know how best to help, they want to be there for us.

Author Parker J. Palmer in his book, Let Your Life Speak, shares about the time he was batting depression. He recalls that some people who visited him tried to cheer him up. “It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you go out and soak up some sunshine and look at the flowers?” Although he understood their intention, it made him more depressed. Others reminded him that he was a teacher and writer who had helped so many people. “Try to remember all the good you’ve done and surely you’ll feel better.” That advice, too, left him depressed.

Then there were those who had the courage to stand with him in simple and healing ways. One was a guy named Bill who asked Parker’s permission to drop by his house in the afternoons. Bill would sit Parker in the chair, kneel in front of him, remove his shoes and socks and for a half an hour, massage his feet. Bill had found the only place in Parker’s body where he could still experience feelings and reconnect with the human race. Bill would simply do this and say very little. When he talked, he would not give advice but mirror Parker’s feelings. This simple act of care was what helped Parker get through his dark time.

We are thankful for the friends God sends our way, who sit with us in uncomplicated and healing ways. And we are thankful for the opportunity to be that friend, to offer our presence to those who are hurting, sick, battling depression, grieving and more. May the pathways of love, patience and kindness lead us to friends who are suffering. And once there, even if we are unsure of what to do, we can simply pray. And be present.

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