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?”

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  1. 251
    Lesley Henry says:

    It really helps when someone points me straight back to the word, challenges me to be in the word and keeps me accountable as to what God’s whispering to me through His word. Usually when I stumble, it’s because I’m not walking closely to my Jesus.
    It really doesn’t help when someone makes exceptions for me and “let’s me off”. We need to walk in authentic truth with one another and sometimes love is tough.

  2. 252

    I think what we find helpful or unhelpful depends
    on our love language.

    What’s helpful to me is when I’m really struggling
    in one area how someone shares with me the strengths
    they see in me. Words of affirmation I suppose.
    But it truly makes a difference, because when we are stuck
    in self-pity we don’t recognize how God has used us,
    those who point that out mean the world to me.

    What’s not helpful. When someone decides they know me.
    When you tell someone you know them, it’s like putting them under
    a microscope and picking out specific things.
    Specific things that may not even be true but all from their
    It hurts so much when people place any labels on me
    when I already feel bad enough about myself.

  3. 253
    Lynnette says:

    When going through my divorce,

    HELPFUL: It really helped when someone LISTENED and let me talk, cry, vent, question, whatever, accepting me where I was. One friend would remind me to just “Breathe.” (It was necessary!) I was literally kicked to the curb with almost nothing. It was so helpful when friends showed up to help me move, clean the new apartment, made a quick phone call to check on me, HUGGED me, cried with me, made sure I was able to give my kids a gift that first Christmas, gave used household furnishings, offered specific help instead of saying “If you need anything, you know where I am,” asked specifically how they could pray for me, changed the oil in my car, gave a few groceries, offered to go to court with me, or gave a small gift card. Biggest helpful thing: Just hug the person and tell them you love them. Every time you see them. Let them cry and be okay with it.

    NOT HELPFUL: It didn’t help when told, “Just work hard and forget about it,” or (quite piously/smugly) “God is still on the throne.” (Honestly, I didn’t see God as my friend right then.) And it was incredibly hurtful when I no longer received invitations to people’s homes in case my divorce was contagious!

    Beth, I’m so glad you asked this because WE, the CHURCH, fall woefully short. In fact, a year ago I (anonymously) collaborated on a book about this topic. It’s written by a guy whose church did everything right when he was in crisis with cancer. But he needed other input and a view from the not-quite-right side.

    As a former pastor’s wife, God allowed me an inside view to the pain and suffering of many flock members. He allowed me the privilege (yes, privilege) of sitting with dear ones as they died, sitting with their families, racing to the hospital after a member fell 25′ from a tree (beating Lifeflight to the hospital!), walking with parents through times of their children’s rebellion, and taught me about not letting a new widow sit alone in church, always making our home and telephone available to the lonely and hurting, going to the home (unasked) of parents we barely knew whose two children were killed by a drunk driver, sending out encouragement cards on a regular basis and especially on painful anniversary dates, encouraging survivors to talk about the loved one who died, taking meals or bags of groceries to those who needed them, and–most importantly–that my schedule is HIS and when a need arises, you drop everything and run to do what He calls us to.

  4. 254
    Linda says:

    What really helps me is when the person I confide in keeps my words confidential. It also really helps me when they give me scripture that will help me get my mind on the Lord and His promises. What doesn’t help is when I pour my heart out and they procede to tell me how they went through something that isn’t even closely related.

  5. 255
    Annette says:

    It really helps me when someone just listens. I don’t need someone to fix it, I just need someone to give support by listening and being a sounding board. And giving me the freedom to express myself.

    What really does not help me is when someone feels the need to say something in order to fix it, or make me feel better. And, it is apparent by their body language that they are uncomfortable with just listening.

  6. 256
    Patti says:

    What helps: Giving me freedom to talk it through. Just talk, not fix.
    What does not help: Agreeing that what I’m going through is so horrible (I already know that). Jumping in too quickly to a)fix, b)correct, c)comfort, d)remind me of an attitude of gratitude…that just seems to fuel the already fragile emotional state.

  7. 257
    karen says:

    What really helps me is something that I got from you, Beth. I have a “Thankfulness journal”. I try to write something every day (or at least a couple times a week *grin*) that I am thankful for. But the best part is that I shared with a very close friend about my journal. She keeps me accountable! When I have a particulary bad day, she reminds me to make sure that I write in that journal! I have to admit that there have been times that the only thing that I could write was that I was thankful to the Lord that I was still breathing….. but there have been so many more times that I have been made to realize that I have so much more to be thankful for than not. 🙂

  8. 258
    Maureen says:

    I’m blessed to walk through life with 6 of my closest girlfriends from college. We call ourselves the Land Army and we loved Jesus together for more than 20 years. When I struggle, I call on them because we are committed to these things….

    WHAT IS HELPFUL? : Words that are beautiful balance of GRACE and TRUTH… focus returned to Jesus and for the lies of the evil one to be revealed.

    WHAT IS NOT HELPFUL?: Although I feed off it…too much sympathy is not what I need!

    • 258.1
      Lori C. says:

      I love the GRACE and TRUTH…exactly what works for me!
      I need the love and favor from my unconditional friend
      and I need the Truth of God’s Word and the Truth of my situation…Sometimes the Reflection of Jesus in your friend’s life sitting right in front of you is your only way to overcome your SELF to break down your self-made barriers to really hear from God.

  9. 259
    Lily says:

    It really helps me when a friend listens to me, prays with me, checks on me, and really shows they care.

    It really DOESN’T help me when a friend completely ignores me and seems to think I need space when what I really need is for them to be a friend and come along side me to help.

  10. 260
    Amanda says:

    What is not helpful is when someone just tells me to “give to God and let it go” without telling me how to do that or leading me through it.

    I don’t have a “What is helpful…” from a person because I haven’t experienced that… I’m praying for those Godly women to show up in my life!

  11. 261
    Linda Newberg says:

    It really helps when I am down or discouraged to have my friend pray with me, come alongside and “understand” and encourage me with Scripture or her own life stories.

  12. 262
    maureen ross says:

    I really appreciate when someone is present and a quiet support. It’s not necessarily important to talk. Or to have them pray with you. I don’t appreciate the one who steps up in our three feet of space and makes everything about themselves. My help comes from the Lord, in my ever present time of need, but a friend close by is comforting.

  13. 263
    Dawn says:

    It is most helpful when my friends have gathered around and lifted me up in prayer. And I do mean lifted me up … prayed when I could not and let me pray through the tears when I could. Not just ‘promised to pray’ for the situation (though I know they do that, too), but seized the moment at hand, gathered around, kleenex box in the middle, and just covered the whole situation in prayer.

    It is not helpful when people quickly share ‘pat’ Bible verses in passing.

  14. 264
    Connie Hein says:

    It helps to get an honest objective opinion or insight without judegment from a friend or family member who loves me and promises to pray for me. Love that! Thank you Lord!!

  15. 265
    Tiffany Bell says:

    What I find most helpful is seeing a person’s lifestyle on a day to day basis, reaching out to others, when I am not in need. Seeing their genuine concern puts an impression on my heart that I can rely on them should the opportunity arise for counsel. Even if I do not associate with them on a regular basis, I have peace within that they will speak properly to me when I am in need. I am very relaxed and expecting to hear clear directions on the direction that I should move toward. I am most interested in hearing a “rhema” word that related directly to my situation, with resolution.

    What is not helpful is someone who monopolizes the conversation and turns the it around, making it about themselves. They end up talking about their issues and totally loosing sight that I came to them because I needed a listening ear!

  16. 266
    Em says:

    It’s really helpful when someone:
    – Reminds me and calls me up to who I am and Who Jesus Christ has proven faithful to be.
    – Says, “I love you. And you’re not alone.”
    – Will literally sit down WITH me in prayerto help me get to Jesus and hear His truth speak over me.
    – Helps show me where/when I’ve bitten off on a lie.

    It really isn’t helpful when someone:
    – Tries to distract me from the situation
    – “Tears down” the other person or situation involved in order to build me up (only builds up pride in me that actually hinders me)

  17. 267
    Pamela - Canada says:

    Helpful: On the spot prayers (either in person, phone or email).

    Unhelpful: Cliches, empty promises of help, unsympathetic and judgemental comments

  18. 268
    Debbie says:

    What really helps me is to reflect about all the times Jesus just showed up in people with the words I needed to hear and verses that lifted me up and memories of how He answered my prayers and cards that always came when I needed encouragement. I also like to just count my blessings and that always ends in joy and peace.
    What does not help is when someone says, you just need a little sleep, you’ll be better tomorrow.

  19. 269

    It really helps me when someone… shows me the way through a plan.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…gives suggestions they wouldn’t even do or could do.

  20. 270
    Mary says:

    It really helps me when someone…tries to put themselves in my shoes, yet tenderly, lovingly, drags my sorry butt out of the pit (especially, with a little dark chocolate for incentive).

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…immediately offers unsolicited advice, preaches the gospel like I’m in need of an exorcism, uses the opportunity to share their problems (to make me feel better), or labels me a pessimist.

  21. 271

    It really helps me when someone listens and responds with an even keel. When my boat is rocking, I don’t need a bouncing buoy alongside me. I need a steady person standing on the shore of the truth, listening intently, so I can remember the steadiness of Christ.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone says it’ll all be fine because I am a ministry leader and then changes the topic. Though I appreciate the confidence they have in my faith, it feels like the struggle is being minimized rather than understood.

  22. 272
    marian says:

    -Really listening with grace and humility and without judgment, knowing that you do NOT necessarily know and understand what you think you do about someone else’s life from your view on the outside.
    -Speaking the words, “I love you” (even if it’s awkward!), “I hear you” and “I’m with you.”
    -Showing the words “I love you” , “I hear you” and “I’m with you” with practical help and simple presence, not just lip service to it.
    -Not trying to “fix” the person or complex situation

    Encourage in faith in a humble way that affirms. There is a palpable difference between someone “encouraging in faith” in a judgmental, prideful, sort of condescending or chastising way, and someone encouraging in faith in a way that they know they could just as easily need when in their own valleys, even though actual words spoken may be the same .

    Perhaps as a result of too much name it/claim it teaching, or perhaps just a warped view of who God is and what life really can be like between Eden and when all things will be made new, Christians often beat each other up with accusations that say, essentially, if you’re struggling or there is suffering in your life, then you do not have enough faith. We love the triumphant first part of Hebrews 11, but not so much the reality of those whom God permitted to suffer right up to their last moment on earth… though both were commended for their faith.

  23. 273
    Hope Hardy says:

    It really helps me when people remind me a scripture that fits my situation. It is a comfort to me that people from the Bible have faced every sort of circumstance and to know I’m not the first person to ever go through a situation.

    It is not helpful when people state the obvious or make judgements about things/decisions already made. You can’t go back, so why rehash it?

  24. 274
    Linda says:

    I am really blessed to have a girlfriend that will be real with me. I have spent some time in the pit lately (standing on solid ground now! TWO readings of Get Out of that Pit! Slow learner 🙂 ) my friend loved me through it all but when we sat down and had a heart to heart she knew it was time to leave the sugar coating behind. She really kept me moving forward.
    What doesn’t help is people that tell you how much harder they had it but God had a plan and I just need to have faith and be patient. I realized this came out of a loving place, but at the time I would have rather they had not said anything at all.

  25. 275
    JJ says:

    Being “real” and not throwing around cliches like “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” I’m going through one of the hardest trials I’ve ever had in my life. It’s not helpful when others become politely distant/silent. Though I have to confess this trial has made me aware of how to specificaaly be an encouragement to someone someday who may face similar ” stuff.”

  26. 276
    Rachel in Arizona says:

    It really helps when someone takes time to listen to me and validate how I’m feeling in the moment, but also won’t allow me to make “the thing” bigger than it should be in my life.

    It doesn’t help me when someone tries to minimize my concerns and make me feel like I lack faith or am a weak Christian because of how I’m feeling.

  27. 277
    Tanya says:

    It helps when people are real and take me seriously, and don’t try to minimize my pain, problems or situation with flippant Christianese answers. If you don’t know what to say, just say “I’m sorry” or admit that you don’t know what I’m going through but be willing to listen and be supportive.

  28. 278
    Robin says:

    Helpful – quality time. Really listening to me. Being very present with me. Letting me be real, raw, and honest. Giving me permission to know it’s ok that I don’t have it all together.

    Not Helpful – judgmental. Trying to fix the situation. Not being sincere.

  29. 279
    Kim says:

    It is helpful when I get a phone call or a text message with words of encouragement and an “I love you” never hurts! Holding me accountable and looking in my eyes with love as they listen and pray.

    It is unhelpful when someone talks about me with others or asks questions that on the surface seem helpful but they really just want the dirt. Sarcasm is unhelpful too!

  30. 280
    Sarah Elizabeth says:

    It helps me when people just listen to me and let me get my thoughts out. A lot of times when I’m struggling with someone I just need someone to listen. At the same time, when I’m struggling and I reach out it means I generally do want advice. Unsolicited advice though can make me feel frustrated and unheard.

  31. 281
    Michelle Pelletier says:

    When I’m discouraged I find it UNhelpful when someone gives me un-asked for advice (“You should do this” … “why don’t you do that?”)
    I find it more helpful when someone simply listens to me and lets me know they genuinely care and love me.

  32. 282
    Susan says:

    What helps: Grabbing my hands, sitting knee to knee and praying over me, with me, and for me. It is comforting, compassionate, loving, generous, enlightening, peaceful, and a beautiful act of service.

    What is less helpful: Offering conjecture about WHY God does or allows certain things. Let God be God…all we can do is ask for His mercy and grace to fortify and strengthen us.

  33. 283

    It really helps when a positive strong friend tells me they are sorry I’m having to go through something and agrees that its so hard. Then they offer to go for coffee (or a run, bike ride, or scrapbook) with me and we chat and they help me think up positive strengthening soothing scripture and positive/encouraging advice.

    It does not help when someone try’s to help by negatively bad mouthing the struggle or person or situation, because when I’m in a struggle or negative place I don’t need someone to gripe for me or take up my battle.

  34. 284
    Kimberly says:

    Helpful…when someone lovingly reminds me who I am in Christ, who I am not being at that moment, what I have to gain and what I have to Lose.

    Not helpful…when I’m reminded how many times I’ve failed, again and again and again.

  35. 285
    Andrea says:

    What helps me is when I can share openly with other Christian women without feeling compromised – so that means having women i can trust to share Truth back at me.

    What doesn’t help is when women superficially say “it will be ok” or “you’re such a great woman…” because I’m not looking for affirmations, I’m looking for the nuts and bolts truth from God’s word. I don’t really care what your opinion is if it doesn’t line up with Scripture. (That sounds harsh, I know, but it is how I feel when well intentioned women steer me back into my selfishness or pride.)

  36. 286
    Petra Borchert says:

    I have experienced much tragedy in my life & am all too familiar with emergency rooms. I know they mean well, & we are taught to “try to put ourselves into others’ shoes”, but sometimes we need slippers instead of combat boots. I found in the most recent issue needing to manage others’ fears of “what if”, like I didn’t already have my own set of fears to fret. The best has been the silent hug, the whispered prayer, the unexpected babysitter, and the surprise pan of lasagna.

  37. 287

    It really helps me when someone tells me that they love me and they know it’s hard before they start in telling me what they think I need to do or try. Also, just in general, sharing maybe what worked for them in a similar situatiion, as long as it isn’t assumed that just because it worked for them, it will automatically work for me. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people put other people in a box. We’re not all the same. We sometimes think slightly differently and learn differently.

    It doesn’t help me when someone invalidates my feelings. I really hate it when someone tells me that my life has not been that hard when I am in pain. It just makes me feel like a loser, for feeling so much over something that apparently shouldn’t matter.

  38. 288
    Chelsea Snow says:

    It really helps when someone… Lovingly SHOVES me in Christ’s direction. Because honestly sometimes It doesn’t occur to me to go to Him FIRST.
    It doesn’t really help (at all) when someone… Tries to fix it/me themselves.

  39. 289
    Pam says:

    What helps… Humor- helping me see the funny side of a situation or just some laughter in general. Honesty- helping me see the truth in a kind and loving way. Prayer- for the situation and all involved and to know that God knows it all.

    What doesn’t help… “Fixers”-people who think they can make it all better or tell how I can. “story tellers”- people who just want to share how they have been through the same or so much worse and over came it so easily.

  40. 290
    Charmaine Bailey says:

    it really helps me when someone … genuinely takes and makes the time to listen to the full story, shares some coffee and is genuine with interest, prayer, advice, love and care … the key is genuine for me.

    it really does not help me when someone … gives fickle advice when not understanding or listening to the whole story but more than that the most hurtful thing for me is when someone uses my deepest feelings or emotions as ammunition against me later on.

  41. 291
    Noelle R. says:

    Helpful: A box of chocolate and and encouraging note attached to it. Who doesn’t like chocolate? As well as, I think notes are great because you can reread them. Sometimes in the midst of discouragement or depression, it’s hard to have ears that hear. Ya know? So, a note is helpful to me… it’s a tangible token of God’s kindness to me through others.

    Not helpful: “I am praying for you.” – can sometimes feel like, “I don’t know what to say or do, so I am just going to wrap up this awkward moment with a little promise of prayer.” Taking the hand of friend and praying right there and then for them in their difficulty, if far more powerful and meaningful.

  42. 292
    Nancy Y says:

    What helps me: A listening ear, a comforting hug, and prayer.

    What doesn’t help: Judging my situation and telling me it is not as difficult as I am making it. Then telling me how they “have been there and this is what you need to do or to remember….” There are times I don’t need or want advice, I just want someone to hear me, besides my Lord.

  43. 293
    Fallon says:

    I have dealt with an eating disorder since childhood. I did not realize it or take it for what it was because it was my “normal”. God began dealing with me about it 2 years ago. What helps? spending time with God, family, and friends,treatments via my NP and Christian therapist, Operation Beautiful, writing this: http://proud2bme.org/content/ed-nos-silent-sickness , writing in general, LOTS OF PRAYER, my new church family, coloring, music, my online support group, Joyce Meyer’s books and sermons,Beth Moore’s books and sermons, other books.

    What doesn’t help? diet-related ANYTHING, SCALES, someone telling me their weight, someone forcing me to eat, someone telling me how their fasting/dieting/over eating, someone telling me the calorie amount of a food,
    Me: I have EDNOS.
    Other Person: But you’re not thin. or You don’t “look” like you have an eating disorder.”
    well-meaning people trying to tell me how they think I should “fix it”.

  44. 294
    Pam Orr says:

    Helpful: Sometimes I just need to be taken out of the situation (even for a few moments)…wandering around a bookstore, going out with a friend for dinner, going to a movie…just being “away” from whatever it is allows me to approach the situation refreshed and renewed.

    Not helpful: Please don’t just give me a Bible verse without helping me with the application.

  45. 295
    Tina P says:

    Yes…Listens..really listens from their heart and soul and then just comes along side you and acknowledges your pain…just simply acknowledges it.

    No to superficial or fearful engagement…it only deepens ones feelings of isolation and discouragement.

    I am praying for you Lin…I heard your pain….much love and comfort to you sweet sister…

  46. 296
    shannon rogers says:

    What helps is love and kindness and understanding. Listening to how I feel and not judging me because sometimes I do feel raw and I need to let it out….its cleansing. What doesnt help? Spiritual cliches or non spiritual cliches…not acting like you have all the answers but acknowledging God does…leave off the trite answers and just be there.

  47. 297
    Fallon says:

    Another thing that is unhelpful is someone telling me to “Give it to God.” Yes, I am a Christian. No, I am not discounting God’s ability to work miracles. However, He has shown me that this is something I have to walk through. I have to unlearn these behaviors, and learn how to love myself and rebuild my relationship with food. This isn’t something I can pray away. Something that irritates me is somebody saying I’m “addicted to my ED behaviors”. The unspoken logic in that is: “Once an addict, always an addict.” Where’s the hope in that?

    Something else that does help is not eating alone, and knowing that God has blessed me with incredible friends whose inboxes, phones, Facebook walls, and Tumblr pager are always open. Positive blogs like LPM, Operation Beautiful, Women’s Bible Cafe, and recoveryisbeautiful (Tumblr) help tremendously as well.

  48. 298
    Living4Him says:

    It really helps me when someone just lets me be me and work through a situation as I need to.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone trys to share how/why I should be at a certain place in my life and/or also when they remind me of how I have failed.

  49. 299
    Pam says:

    It really helps me when someone asks me if I’ve been in the Word on a regular basis.

  50. 300
    Kim-mygoodandperfectgifts says:

    It really helps me when someone truely cares. Listens,Prays,Hugs me and just tells me You wouldn’t want anything God doesn’t want for your life. (sensitivley and gentle) After they have prayed and cried with me.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone is cold, matter of fact and tells me all the scriptures they can think of for my situation. Also, hearing that time heals all wounds
    doesn’t really work for me.

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