What’s Help? What’s Not?

Hey Siestas! Happy Monday! I saw such ministry in action in your comments to the last post. Thank you so much for your compassionate hearts and authentic walks with Christ. You are a true privilege to serve.

I’ve been meditating on something for the last few days that I thought you might get all wound up in, too. We all know – I pray – that God is the only true Redeemer and wonder worker and that He alone is our Savior but, according to Scripture, He very much wills for His people to minister to one another through the power of His Spirit. Here’s the question I’m pitching on the table today:

When you’re trying to get back on your feet, whether you’ve fallen into sin, discouragement, distraction, pain, betrayal, or anything else that can tumble you to the ground, what do you find really helpful from fellow human beings and what do you find UNhelpful?

Really reflect on the questions before you answer them because I want you to think in terms of what is authentically HELPFUL. Not what your flesh or my flesh craves when we’re down. Not what simply soothes us for the moment but does us no real help in the long run. What really does help? And what doesn’t?? Also make sure that your answers are reasonable. In other words, our mentors may not be able to move us in with them for six weeks and cook for us while the two of us hash all of this through. Grin. No one can make us his or her whole life. Only Jesus is meant to be our lives. (Col. 3:4) Think within the bounds of what people are reasonable capable of doing. Within those lines, all is fair game.

Here are the ground rules: Be genuine. Be kind. Please do not try to get back at someone on here who has disappointed you. Let’s have pure motives here today. You know that I say that in love. It’s just human nature. Lastly, please answer succinctly. Just a few sentences for each question so we can read them all. If you want to participate, start each of the two answers like this:

It really helps me when someone…

It really doesn’t help me when someone…

We’re not looking for right or wrong answers. We’re just reflecting today on what reasonable things we can do for one another to actually help and considering what things simply do not. We are liable to discover that what helps one Siesta doesn’t at all help another. I think this is going to get very interesting.

You are the most wonderful blog community on earth. I am NUTS about you. Go for it, Girls! WHAT HELPS???


600 Responses to “What’s Help? What’s Not?”

If you'd like your own pic by your comment, go to Gravatar.com. Click the first button "Get your gravatar today ->", and it will walk you through a simple process to select a picture.


  1. 1
    Carrie K says:

    It really helps when someone: after listening empathetically, gives a hug accompanied by some Scripture to point me in the right direction. (towards the Lord)

    It really doesn’t help when someone: proffers an empty phrase like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” OR “It’s going to be ok.”

  2. 2
    Warm in Alaska says:

    It really helps when someone just listens. Listens really well. And then affirms whatever the emotions may be that I’m struggling with. It also helps (so much) when a friend can share a timely word from The Word, or from her own walk – a life lesson – even if it’s a snippet – that she’s already lived.

    It really doesn’t help when I can tell someone has already come up with what their pat answer or response is – when I haven’t finished even talking. I’ve found with my friends who tend to do this, that I’m guarded with what I share. I love friends like this dearly, but I just don’t really share much of my heart – what’s really going on.

    I’m excited to hear what others say…

  3. 3
    KMac says:

    I don’t know why I want to hop on this so quickly but:

    It really helps me when someone…
    remembers me. when they let me know they remember my situation in prayer through a text, or voice message, or email it makes me know they have not forgotten me. that means a whole lot to me. after all, we have a lot to pray about in just our immediate families, right?

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…
    casts judgment on my part that i might have played in my current situation, or evaluates what i might have done differently. i surely want to consider this at some point, but not necessarily at the beginning, or at a particularly overwhelming moment.

    • 3.1
      Ashley says:

      I agree that a “follow-up” is so encouraging. I think that can be such sweet reminder that we are not alone in our struggles. There is a great deal of sincerity and love that accompanies listening & continuing to pray for a friend until a need is met or a person is able to find peace or healing. …and what great joy for ALL to see our Mighty Father answer those prayers, heal those hurts, and redeem his children!

    • 3.2
      christina says:

      Absolutely! People remembering to pray for me and telling me so, in any medium, is so very encouraging. Well said!

    • 3.3
      Barb says:

      I agree, KMac! When something tragic happens everyone is there for you…and that is awesome! But it’s later, when the newness wears off and you’re left with yourself and alone ( or feeling alone ) that a text, an email or a call unsolicited makes you feel “known.”

      I agree with your second thought as well! Couldn’t have said it better!

    • 3.4
      Ann says:

      Yes, exactly!

      (we need a “like” button on these to click on when we agree just like facebook.)

  4. 4
    carla says:

    I guess #1 don’t judge the person openly. Sometimes you have to go in the back door to help someone. Pray for the person. Never hit a person when they are down. My mom suffered, our family suffered, because of her mental illness. I had friends and family criticize me for not doing more. A person has to want help and my mother did not want help so for the past 30 + years I prayed for her to be healed. She passed this last week and was never healed. Find a way to help or just pray. Sometimes we should just pray and not try to help. I guess I do not have an answer. I know that you should keep trying, keep supporting people no matter what they do or say, Jesus would.

  5. 5
    Lyli says:

    It really helps me when someone prays with me and points me to Christ by loving on me in a way that is accepting and empathetic.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone seems to think she has the right answers without truly listening. It reminded me of Job’s clueless, judgmental friends.

  6. 6
    Tessa says:

    It really helps me when someone… speaks the truth in love, or simply says, “I understand”.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone… gives me suggestions on what I should do. Like if I say I am struggling being unemployed right now, and someone says, start a Bible study! Do mission work!

  7. 7
    Donna says:

    I find genuine kindness to be the most helpful when I am down and out. It is really helpful to me simply to have somebody give me a phone call to say , “Hey, I was thinking about you, how are you and how can I pray for you?”. Listening and talking are helpful. Simply saying “I am so sorry” is way more helpful to me than advice, solutions, or them saying they know just how I feel.

    • 7.1
      Lynn says:

      I agree with you Donna. Sometimes just saying “I’m sorry” is the best thing to do rather than offer advice.

  8. 8
    Elizabeth says:

    I would say that it really helps when someone listens to what you are saying, then asks to pray with you, and then speaks. It is not helpful when they talk over you and don’t fully listen to what you are saying before offering advice.

  9. 9
    FloridaLizzie says:

    It really helps me when someone reminds me of what God says about a matter that is troubling me. The truth sets us free, especially when someone speaks the truth in love. Praying with me and for me helps.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone accuses me or excuses me when they really don’t know what is going on. God sees and knows, and the best thing a friend can do is keep pointing me back to Him and His Word.

  10. 10
    Sarah M says:

    I know what helps me most is when a close friend (rare to find) can look me in the eye and without saying a word, know that something is up and confront me on it. It’s not always easy for them to do, or easy for me to receive, but it’s seems to be the quickest way for me to get over it and get on with it.

    • 10.1
      deirdre says:

      Amen ! It changes everything when someone just looks at you and knows that something is wrong. It is a quiet demonstration that they actually CARE.

  11. 11
    Sally Denton says:

    I recently had this discussion with a girlfriend of mine lol. It so helped me when I was just able to have my emotions and a friend allowed me to have them with no condemnation or judgement but just sat there with me silently and allowed me to get out the pain. It did not help when other Christians had harbored ill feeling towards me and tried to solve my problems with Scripture (tried to be my Holy Spirit) Meals and pick me up gifts always help when they are given but given as something they sincerely liked themselves or knew me well enough that I loved (even if it was just a diet doctor pepper from my favorite drive-in or some cough drops when I had a cold) When my son was in so much physical pain and the doctors did not know what was wrong, he really fell into doubt and it didn’t help when people would tell him that God was going to heal him and they were praying for Him. He felt like he had done something wrong because God wasn’t answering their prayers. This blog of bible verses REALLY helped as I would read over them over and over and God would use so many of them. So many more but I will stop 🙂

  12. 12
    Dea says:

    It really helps me when those with the gift of encouragement put their arms around me and speak words that heal and hone and I haven’t asked for it. How do they know?

    It really doesn’t help is when others ask me into “real” relationship only when they are in a crisis— in need of prayer—usually requested in a text. Don’t get me wrong, I pray! I want to. God hears, answers. I wonder if it selfish to want more than that? I thinking it might be about me and not them.

    Is that not a beautiful gift—to be asked to go to the God with another’s needs?

    This is hard and thought provoking question, Beth. Thanks for asking.

  13. 13
    Tricia Knapp says:

    It really helps me when someone opens the Word of God and shows me where the answer to my issues are. It really doesn’t help me when someone gives a “pat answer” to something without prayer and searching of the Word of God. After all, the Word of God is our source for the truth, no matter our feelings

  14. 14
    Tracy says:

    It really helps me when someone not only says they’ll pray for me, but offers the prayer right then and there, letting the Holy Spirit guide their words. Almost always, a phrase or word resonates deep within me, and I know God has heard our prayers. It helps me not feel so alone in my struggles.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone tells me what I should be doing instead of what I’m currently doing. If I’m not in sin, and doing what God called me to do, then someone else’s opinion of what I should be doing doesn’t usually help me.

  15. 15
    Emily says:

    It’s so funny you asked about help today because this morning I told my 4 year old to let me help her get her shoes on. She asked, “What does help mean?” I tried to explain it the best I could and she asked, “Jesus helps us too?” Yes! He does! And I need to remember that not only does He help us, but He places others in our lives to help too.

    It really helps me when someone is sensitive to what I am dealing with. I have a very hard time asking for help or sharing my problems and it always blesses me when others are sensitive to the fact that something is up with me. After that, listening is the most important thing to me, just allowing me to talk through whatever I’m dealing with.

    It is not helpful to me when people try to “fix” things for me, especially if it’s a situation they have personally never been in.

  16. 16
    Laura says:

    It really helps me when someone is honest with me about my behavior. I have a best friend who never fails to tell me the truth. I like having that accountability with her and she helps me to realize when I am being unreasonable or overthinking things as I tend to do.

    It doesn’t help me when someone just commiserates or agrees with me and doesn’t offer an honest opinion. I like it when people are honest and don’t just agree with me when I am in need of checking myself. If I am overthinking something or reading too much into a situation or having a moment of self-pity I want to be told that I am so I can recognize it and correct it.

  17. 17
    Cara says:

    It really helps me when someone will just listen without trying to fix the thing, without judgement, and without letting me know how their problems are worse.

    Also, as a military wife it is helpful when others simply offer and follow through with help whenever my husband is gone. I am not going to ask for help so someone simply dropping off a meal, or calling and asking to have the kids over for a play date or asking me out for coffee so that I can have adult conversation is truly a blessing.

    It is not helpful to tell me to let them know if I need anything. Nor is it helpful to tell me how it could always be worse.

    Honesty is always helpful though. Don’t just agree with me. Tell me when I need to put my big girl panties on and get on with things.

  18. 18
    candifer says:

    one of the toughest times in my life thus far was in high school. my dad died very unexpectedly when i was a junior (11th grade), and in the years afterward i realized i’d been leaning on my parents’ faith. my best friend–a strong Christian girl from a strong Christian family–tried to continue being a friend, but i pushed everyone away and instead bottled up everything i was feeling. i was on a downward spiral, bitter at the church and God. when i was at my lowest, i called my friend. she told me i needed help and hung up on me. i was really hurt and really turned-off to Christianity.

    all of this to say, i learned something really valuable: there are times when we or our friends genuinely would benefit from speaking with a Christian counselor, especially when we/they need help beyond a friend’s abilities.

    i’ve found it helpful to suggest: “i am and will continue praying for you, but this is beyond me. how about i go with you to a counselor when you are ready?”

  19. 19
    Becky says:

    It really helps me when someone…is thoughtful and intentional. Just knowing how much they care, means a lot to me. It helps me know I’m not alone in whatever I’m walking through. It helps me know that they are there to build me up, encourage me and help me come out on the other side.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…doesn’t ask me how I am. If somebody knows I’m dealing with something because I’ve trusted them with the information…it’s unhelpful and hurtful to me when they just let it be a one time conversation and don’t make an effort to minister to me. Sounds so needy, but it’s just me being honest. I want to know they really care and it is unhelpful if they don’t act like it. That adds to the pain and hurt.

  20. 20
    Christy says:

    Helpful for me: a call or an invite to just to chat, a card that says they’re thinking of me, an email just to see how i am, showing up at my house just to be with me (even if it means cleaning my house along side of me)

    Unhelpful: someone saying “just call me if you need anything”, hearing from someone else that someone told them that they were thinking of me and asking about me but that same person never calls to ask me directly.

  21. 21
    L.M. says:

    It really helps me when when someone…

    encourages me in “non-electronic” ways. At these times texting, facebooking, etc seem as impersonable as they really are! A phone call, a card in the mail, or a lunch date are so much more meaningful.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…

    minimizes what I’m going through by trying to “one-up” my hardships with troubles of their own.

  22. 22
    Lisa Younce says:

    It really helps me when someone: has been through a similar situation and can show me there is hope and life after this time I’m going through.I know they really understand.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone: gives me their pep talk about pulling myself up and then quotes some scripture that is out of context to my situation.They don’t ever really show caring for me. It feels like they just want my problem to go away, and don’t care about me at all.

  23. 23
    Lu says:

    It really helps when…someone is genuine…they pray, not just say they will…they speak what God has told them to say specifically to you, rather than ignore you & God …they have you on their mind and tell you so…an actual card in the mail…a friendly (not condescending or haughty or plastic) smile…HUGS…they make time for you, to listen or just be beside. (the small gestures add up …one acknowledgment can be the difference in getting through another day)

    It really doesn’t help when someone …tries to minimize my feelings or situation…tries to fix me…lectures me…turns it into something about them

  24. 24
    Nicole says:

    We r going through an difficult financial season right now so this is very fresh to me.

    Helpful: one couple came over brought lunch and prayed over us for 45 min.
    One of our mentors read a Daily Light reading to us over brkfst and shared his personal notes/pain of his own financial crisis years before. Then shared his testimony of God’s faithfulness! Lots of tears…good ones.

    Not helpful: Cliche phrases/ people who are not genuine

  25. 25
    Megdalen says:

    It really helps me when someone prays for me. It does NOT help when you pour out your whole heart (or slide just a smidgen of heart off your plate, whichever) to someone and they say they will pray for you, and then they do NOT. You can totally tell because when they see you again there is a flash of guilt in their eyes, like, oops, I was supposed to pray about her trials but I forgot. I feel like I have been on both sides of that one!

  26. 26
    fuzzytop says:

    Hi Beth!
    This is a great topic – thanks for posting this!

    It really helps me when someone truly seeks to understand what is going on and how I am feeling. When someone gives me meaningful advice, or even constructive criticism, in a kind, encouraging manner. I’m talking about the kind of advice that can really help with my struggle or the situation I’m facing. It also helps when people pray for me and my situation. I can’t describe how I feel when I hear someone praying over me; it is overwhelming – in a good way!

    It really doesn’t help me when someone is judgmental, offers pious platitudes, or vague advice, or lets me wallow in self blame or self pity. It’s also not helpful in the long run to let me off the hook for my responsibility or my fault in the situation. Stating the obvious is also hugely unhelpful – it always makes me think of Job’s statement to his friends that (I’m paraphrasing here) “I am not stupid. I know these things you know!” Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

    Much love,

  27. 27
    Marcy says:

    It really helps me when: The few women that I have asked to hold me accountable in certain areas, DO just that. They check in with me and ask me DIRECTLY how that problem area is in my life.

    It really does NOT help when: The few women that I have asked for accountability ignore any warning signs and never bring up a problem area that I have specifically asked them to question me about periodically.

  28. 28
    Kelly Bollman says:

    What helps me is when dear friends/sisters in Christ, listen to me pour my heart out and they soak it in. They tell me what they are proud of, what was good… my feelings feel validated. Then they pause and prayerfully consider within that phone call or face to face, or sometimes over days, what they feel is the right direction for a believer.

    It helps when they show you grace.

    It does not help, when someone says, “wish I could help.” It does not help when someone says “I’ll be praying for you.” and you’re not sure they will…

    It does not help when they say “it’s time to move on”, when you know God’s called you to stick it out for longer.

    It helps to have two or three specific mature, trustworthy Believers (ladies) to go to when you need to be reminded why it’s worth it.

  29. 29
    Texas in the Mountains says:

    It really doesn’t help me when…someone says “I’ll pray for you”.

    It really helps me when someone says “Let’s pray for that”. and then right then and there we start praying. <3 that!

  30. 30
    Karen says:

    It really helps when I am heard. My friend LISTENS and either HONESTLY validates what I am saying or HONESTLY says I am so sorry you are going through this and then lovingly speaks God’s truth to me in the situation. His Word is so powerful, convicting, healing and life giving! Friends prayers have also been HUGE in my and my family’s lives.

    It does not help when:you have opened up about something and there is no follow-up to hear how life is going.

  31. 31
    Erin says:

    It really helps me when someone just puts their ears to work for me and listens. 🙂 When advice is given, it is honest and said out of love for me and my best interest, even though it may not be well received by me at the time.

  32. 32
    Erin says:

    It really helps me when someone…quotes a scripture to encourage me. I can’t tell you how many times Jeremiah 29:11 or Psalm 139:14 has pulled me out of a dark place. His word is life…

    It really helps me when someone…suggests a song. Music inspires me and refocuses my mind.

  33. 33

    It really helps me when someone sits with me in my pain and gives me permission to grieve a loss.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone is so busy trying to fix me that they rush my pain and try to cut off my grief. A lot of Christians could afford to learn what Paul meant in Romans 12:15 when he encouraged us to weep with those who weep 🙂

  34. 34
    Suzy says:

    It really helps me when someone points me to a specific scripture that God then uses to help me back to my feet. When I’m down (either through sin or discouragement) I tend to think with my emotions – which means “not clearly”. I’ve had people send me a card or email, or even lovingly put their arm around me and give me scripture that helped re-clarify my mind and set my feet back on the right track.

    It is NOT helpful when people say, “I know exactly what you’re going through…” and proceed with a 20 minute personal example of something that happened to them with all the gory details. No one (but Jesus) can know EXACTLY what others are feeling – but even if we’re trying to helpful, we should keep it down to a sentence or two. Maybe, “something similar happened to me once, and this is a scripture that helped me….” If I’m not thinking clearly to begin with, I’m certainly not listening to your 20 minute personal diatribe.

  35. 35
    Michele says:

    It really helps me when someone reminds me (lovingly) of what God says in His word. And sharing their personal experiences/struggles help. Praying with me.

    It doesn’t really help me when people are insincere or unloving.

  36. 36
    Shelly says:

    My mom told me to visualize Jesus sitting in my home, waiting and wanting me to spend my time with Him. Aaacck! I can’t make my Lord wait on ME!
    It always helps me to be reminded of this. He is waiting for me to come to Him. For me to carve out time for Him. For me to empty Me of Me to be filled with HIM.

  37. 37
    Lauralee says:

    It really helps me when my friends prays for me because I may not be able to do it at that time. Then, when they follow up with a Scripture and a sweet note or text letting me know they are thinking and praying for me. Very encouraging.

    It really doesn’t help when they say God is in control because when things seem out of control, the last thing I want to hear is that it is on purpose.

  38. 38
    Joyce Watson says:

    It really helps me when someone is a friend that leads me to God, who speaks the truth in love, who listens, who wants the best for me, who is forgiving, who is encouraging and someone who will pray for me. It is encouraging when a friend shows they care through a card or a gift like a cross or book that is a reminder of God’s love, that is a real blessing. It is important to laugh together and be able to cry together, sometimes that helps my heart to heal.
    It really doesn’t help me when someone gets angry, critical, or judgmental. It doesn’t help when someone thinks they have all the answers and tells me what they would do and think they are better than everyone else.
    … this is so hard to share my true feelings. You don’t know how God has touched my heart so much.

  39. 39
    Melanie says:

    It really helps me when someone takes the time to listen and then responds with kindness, not judgment. It really doesn’t help me when someone says, “I’ll pray for you about that” and then moves on to another topic. Don’t get me wrong; prayer is extremely important. But this type of reply means whoever I’m talking to is uninvolved and uninterested and probably means that no prayers will be offered on my behalf anyway. 🙂

  40. 40
    Maria says:

    It really helps me when someone…starts sharing testimonies of how God helped them through difficulties. Nothing is more encouraging or as inspiring as that. It helps me shift my focus off my problem(s) and keeps me from feeling discouraged. I can then start praising God for his goodness and my faith is increased.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…tries to rationalize the issue or provide solutions. I think that just irritates me because it minimizes the issue or makes it seem simplistic.

    (Now I’m going to read what other people said…) 🙂

  41. 41
    Julie says:

    Helpful: genuine, empathetic prayer. Being remembered, being checked on. Being a good listener.

    Not so helpful: trite words, being too cheerful when your heart is breaking.

  42. 42
    Judy says:

    It really helps when a friend shows compassion and asks: “what can I do to help”. And when a friend offers to pray with/for me.

    It really doesn’t help when someone says: “It could have been much worse”, or “At least no one died”, etc. That makes me feels like what happened to me is being discounted. Almost any “crisis” could be worse but that doesn’t lessen what we’re going through at the moment.

  43. 43

    It’s helpful when someone – speaks truth over me in love. Sometimes I get so caught up in my junk I don’t see what’s really happening around me. I need friends who are REAL and who care enough to speak truth into my life –even when it’s not easy and I’m not receptive.

    it’s not helpful when –someone encourages me in my pit. If I reach out, I’m looking for truth, not platitudes. I don’t need anyone to make it okay that I’m in the pit, it’s not helpful.

  44. 44
    Karen says:

    It really helps me when someone gives me the most valuable thing we have and that is their time. You can not store it, borrow it all we can do is manage it. I love when I am asked not for a meal gathering or a coffee gathering but just time together to pray and seek his word. Transformations take time, patience takes time. Use it wisely.

    It really doesn’t help me when I tell some unbelieving friends about a fellowship with a group of women such as a Deeper Still conference or an LPM event and they see my excitement and they say “we just don’t get it” at that moment I knew it would not be my judgement or my words that were to show them. I had done my part, God makes the seeds grow. I could have walked away feeling condemned, Christ would not allow it. He has drawn me even closer for his glory.

  45. 45
    Andrea says:

    It really helps me when someone…knows that I am in the throws of life, and brings a meal over to simply ease the burden one hour of my day.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…tells me to get over it and move on.

  46. 46
    deirdre says:

    It really helps me when someone reminds me that God loves me and forgave me already.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone tries to help. As odd as that may sound.

  47. 47
    Avayd Ann Lacy says:

    It has really helped in this present season of change that I am in when people have helped in practical ways. Cash, an extra set of pots and pans they had, an extra TV they had sitting in the garage. It has been immense help when people have checked in on me to see how I was doing emotionally.

    It has not been helpful for people, particularly family, to be judgmental without having more facts than they had. And even worse to distance themselves from me rather than being supportive. However, when I prayed about it, God said, “Yes, I know. MY children do that to me all the time”. Ouch!!

  48. 48
    Debbie in Longview says:

    November 1
    1 John 4:19 NIV
    “We love because He first loved us.”

  49. 49
    Sarah says:

    Helpful: A close friend or family member who balances encouragement with sharing Biblical stories that relate in some way.

    Unhelpful: When someone listens and then has absolutely no response like I’d just talked to a wall.

  50. 50
    Katie says:

    It’s really helpful when someone will be my sounding board. I’m talking a good hour of time where I can verbally process what I am feeling. It is also really helpful when my husband will give me time from my three sweet kiddos so I can go verbally process with God and hear from Him. I have really been blessed with a husband who willingly does the former and the latter, Praise God!!!

    It is not really helpful if someone just tries to rush me into composing myself. I feel like that is really only for their benefit. They are uncomfortable with my pain and they need to relieve their own discomfort. Phrases such as, “Okay, well now that you got it off your chest you can move on.” Just typing it makes my skin crawl 🙂

Leave a Reply

To receive a daily digest of comments on this post, enter your email address below: