14 August, 2017

How to Help a Struggling Friend


Once I wrote a list of things I hated – actual hates, not dislikes or pet peeves. I wrote a few things before I saw the theme: I hate feeling powerless. I hate being in a situation where something awful is being done, but I can’t do a thing about it. I hate seeing other people hurt and damaged, and I can’t help. I hate being a viewer behind glass.

But there are times we can reach into people’s lives and hearts. I have a burden for helping those who are struggling. I don’t know how to help, what to say, or what to do. I’m awkward and I struggle too. I used to think I was powerless to help, until I realized: the smallest things can make the biggest difference. I once read of a girl who, because a stranger smiled at her, chose not to end her life. That was enough to let her know someone cared.  A sentence can change someone’s day. A thoughtful gift, or kind act, can. We have so many means in our grasp to be life changers.


Here’s a list of things I’ve found to be helpful in my experience, and I endeavour to be to others. I have much to learn. But it weighs on my heart that people are hurting, and some people don’t care, but some of us (including me) don’t know how to care. It doesn’t have to be hard or big; even the smallest thing can mean the world to someone. And God always has our back in this war. Let’s fight darkness.



Be there. This is the most important thing, and it’s simply showing up. We don’t have to have answers, or know what to do: just say, “Hey, I’m thinking of you. How are you going?” 

Show you’re there. For me, this mostly looks like sending a note by text, email, or on paper in real life. It could include phone calls, gifts, doing something for them, having them over for a meal - small tokens of love and care. 

Listen and let them grieve. We’ve got to understand their perspective, and that means listening. I have a tendency, when someone is talking about all the negative things happening, to drill positivity into them.  Count your blessings! Look on the bright side! It might be true, but it’s not what they need to hear then. These negative things are real in their life and by glossing over them, we’re not showing respect.

Ask genuine questions. Ask how they’re really feeling. Get beyond small-talk. Ask how they feel about themselves. And please, don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve thought of harming themselves or taking their life. Suicide isn’t always expected, and it’s worth the awkwardness: death isn’t something you can regret.

Pray for them and with them. Sometimes prayer is the only thing we can do, but it’s not a small thing. We’re talking about the all-powerful God here, and He has victory over darkness. We can claim His promises on behalf of our friends. And if the person is willing, praying with them is so, so powerful. Someone praying for me in my hearing is one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced.

Don’t break their confidence, but. If they share personal struggles, it shows care and respect to not repeat them to others. We’ll win their confidence and be able to support them better. But if the person’s life is at risk, we need to tell someone and get help. 

Earn the right to give advice. It’s natural for me to think solutions and strategies. There’s a problem? Let’s get to the solution already! But we have to listen and understand where the person is coming from, and remember it is their choice what they do. You can never have too much empathy. As they realize we care and understand, they’ll be more open to advice.

Don’t judge. The other person will feel more comfortable if they sense we’re not judging them. It’s easy to observe and presume things, but we can’t read minds, and understand hearts. 

I want to challenge myself this week to reach out, notice the beautiful people God has put in my life, how I can encourage and support them, and follow through with it. I want to show I’m there, and I care. We can make a difference; let’s believe it.


If you’re actively investing in someone who is struggling, look after yourself as well. Getting burnt out, or emotionally overloaded, doesn’t help us or others. Time with God, good rest, and nutrition, is still a priority, and sharing confidentially with a trusted friend or mentor can help. 

And, friend, if you’re struggling, please know you are not alone. God invested His heart and soul into you, and no one can take that away. You are priceless, of infinite value. I care about you, and if you want to talk – I make no profession of being able to help, but I can listen: blog.applesofgold@gmail.com. No one needs to bear their burden alone.

Thanks for being there for me, guys. Your lovely comments have cheered my blue days, and made me believe in my purpose. I know you’ve reached out to others, and experienced struggles, so what would you add to the list? What has meant the most when you’ve been struggling? Can I count you in on the challenge?

05 August, 2017

Be Fearless in the Pursuit of What Sets Your Soul on Fire



Rachel from Silver Mess, and Grace from Totally Graced recently shared posts where they challenged themselves to share a memory in one hundred words. I thought it was a great idea, and decided to condense what I wanted to share into one hundred words. My posts normally run between five to eight hundred words, so you can imagine I understand the ‘challenge’ part of it. I didn’t quite make it down to one hundred, but anyway, here’s my current inspiration on being passionate. I’m looking forward to hearing what you make of passion, and tell me if you try the one hundred word challenge!




 

My music teacher advised: pursue your passion. If it doesn’t work out, go study law. But if it does, you spend your life doing what you love.


Sara Beth said passion is God given; it’s how we’re created to exist. She quoted La La Land: “People love what other people are passionate about.” 


Ove’s wife says in A Man Called Ove: “We can busy ourselves with living or with dying...” 


Why settle for okay when you could be excited, on fire, spending and being spent, living up, wearing out, but you love it. You’re alive. You’re doing what you’re made for.


I’m re-evaluating:  am I doing it because I’m obliged, because it happened, or because I feel called, I fervently desire, I have excitement, enthusiasm, recklessly brave abandon, not to spend my life on something, but to give my life for something?


The world needs passionate people.

30 July, 2017

A Note On Insecurity


I’m insecure. It’s a tiny sentence, but I haven’t wanted to admit that. Other people have insecurities. I can see them, and I’ve even looked to make sure I wasn’t doing the same thing. But I had an experience which gave me a different perspective. I saw my insecurities: I saw they were changing the way I behaved, the people I talked to, the self-talk I allowed. I noticed a change in my interactions with people in real life, and I gave time to my insecurities about online interactions. Is it worth blogging? Am I offending people? What if no one reads it? Can I even write? I want to share what I feel God’s been teaching me, but what if it’s not really truth?

You may have noticed a gap in my posting (or you may not have, as my insecurities would like to point out). It’s not because of a lack of desire or things to say. I’ve been busy, yes, but I’ve been hesitating. I want to be honest: I have insecurities about blogging. 

They’ve been there all along, but I hear God calling me to do more with blogging – to go deeper, to see it as my ministry, to open up and allow Him to work. It’s a step out of my comfort zone; it requires walking past those insecurities.

It’s made me realize something: insecurity is about fear. Why am I insecure about this? It’s because I’m scared. But God doesn’t dwell in fear. He’s love, and perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) And that’s the answer to my problem, my weakness, my struggle: more love, more God.

 ~

Everyone has insecurities.  They’re a natural part of life in our fallen world. I’m not suggesting to glorify them, but please, don’t be insecure about your insecurities. If you’re struggling with something, feeling alone, feeling less-than, scared about what people will think, about what you’re called to do, about the past or the present or the future: you’re not alone. You’re beautiful, you’re loved, and you have purpose.

“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee… Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee…” Isaiah 43:1-4

Let’s be a little kinder to those around us: we don’t know what they might be struggling with inside. Let’s be a little more open, because we’re all in this, and connection is powerful. And when we find ourselves facing those fears, let’s go to the One who is perfect love, and let His truth set us free. 

Thanks for listening, and I hope to see you more often from now on. In the meantime, what has been on your heart recently? Is insecurity something you struggle with? How do you think we can combat it? Tell me what’s going on for you. I appreciate you all, and you bless me so much. 

Jessica xx