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. 301
    Michelle says:

    What a great topic- thanks Beth.
    It really helps when someone prays with me – not just tell me you will pray for me – but pray with me in that moment. It helps for someone to listen. But it also helps that someone tell me what I need to hear not what I want to hear. I know who those friends are that will give me good spiritual advice – not judgment but Truth. There is a difference.

    It doesn’t help when people say things like, “Well the Lord is in control, or things like that. I have found that at those times I don’t know what to say, it is best to say nothing. Just be there for someone. We don’t have to wax eloquently with all sorts of Just be there.

  2. 302
    Heather says:

    I did not grow with Christians or knowing the Bible and God saved me from a very dark background–there are things I am still battling because of it even thirty years later. The thing I have found the most destructive has been exclusion. To sit on the fringes and see how ‘good’ people seem to have a lack of love and compassion, and keep their distance is painful. Sometimes I wonder if the body of Christ is in peril of rigormortis setting in.

    BUT,I have been blessed with wonderful friends–sisters and brothers in the body of Christ who are close, who have been there for me in good times and bad, and I for them. These are the things that are most encouraging–just being there; including others, even the least… like me. 🙂

    • 302.1
      Stephanie solomon says:

      Heather, I totally understand how exclusion hurts. God freed me from years of addiction and all the behaviors that come with it. However, my friends abandoned me at times when I really needed them. God is so faithful that He brought wonderful, loving Christian women into my life and now I have new sisters in Christ. Exclusion is difficult but God will fill your life with new like minded Godly women because He loves you so much.

  3. 303
    Hilary says:

    It’s really helpful when someone shows tangible kindness and will just be there with you for awhile.

    One time I had a really bad day at Disneyland, of all places. I was sitting in a cafe terrace bawling my eyes out behind my sunglasses. A woman I did not know, in a wheelchair, brought me a cup of coffee and sat with me for awhile. Just sat with me while I cried. The simple, tangible act of kindness from a stranger was more than I had got from anyone I knew in a long, long time.

    If you want to help the most, just be ther – with coffee, chocolate, a hug, box of kleenex, help with a few chores, a meal, whatever – something – that shows you have time for that person and you care.

  4. 304
    ginger says:

    It really helps when I know someone is listening, asking questions when they dont have a clear understanding. Ask the hard questions… speak truth, whether I want to hear it or not, I prefer the truth. Then pray regarding the situation.

    I really dont mind hearing how others have overcome because maybe just maybe I learn how others have made it past it but when the sharing is shrink the situation rather than edify or bring wisdom, it does hurt….

  5. 305
    Linda says:

    It really helps to have girlfriends I can trust to not gossip about the pain and challenges I am facing. It really helps to have girlfriends who listen and hurt with me It really helps to have girlfriends who will stand by me, praying, sending encouraging emails, sharing helpful books and cds and believing for victory right along with me.

    But most of all it REALLY helps when God’s word speaks directly to me about my situation and gives me comfort, help, and hope.

  6. 306
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    Warmest Greetings to you Beth, I was on the blog early today, and what you posted here does make me think a lot about the Body of Christ, and how we all work together…building itself up in love…

    It really helps me when someone…prays for me, and lets me know that they are praying for me, or prays with me. When they speak scripture to me over my situation, or a word fitly spoken that gladdens my anxious heart (Prov. 12:25, 25:11) When they are willing to let me cry on their shoulder in genuine concern for my welfare with a warm hug. It helps when they remind me to set my mind on things above, and to love the LORD with my whole being. To look to Him for strength, comfort, wholeness, healing, healthiness of soul…

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…is not available, or is too busy to be available to pray or be concerned about anyone else. They may not realize that they are doing it though. But, then they miss out on the blessing of fellowship, and what what the Lord wants to teach both of us through iron sharpening iron.

    I love you Beth. I’m so blessed and grateful to be a siesta. I will be praying for you and LPM.

  7. 307
    Stacey Emmott says:

    It really helps me when others come along side and share their stories, not as in trying to teach me something but as in I feel you. “I’ve messed up in a similar fashion, I’m sorry, I know this is painful.” And then they remind me of the God we serve and how even in this He is able.

    Not helpful, Judgement.

  8. 308
    flip flops says:

    Helps-when someone is really listening to me and praying for me and with me.

    Not helpful-when someone is listening ready with an answer. I don’t always need an answer, just someone to be there listening.

  9. 309
    Evie says:

    Yes I have had one of those “falls”; May 2008 to be exact. I did something terrible that really devestated my family.

    What really helped me was to surround myself with Godly women. I attended one of youur Living Proof Live in San Antonio. I went up during the altar call and received what God had ordained for me that day and have hung on to that when times get difficult.

    What doesn’t help me are friends like Job oops!

    Thanks Beth for your wonderful ministry.

  10. 310
    Martha Helen says:

    It’s really helpful and what I most crave is for others to truly respond to your plea for prayer or help or encouragement, and not to forget. It’s really helpful when they take me to the scriptures, pray with me, take TIME with me, remember me and persist in the long haul of encouragement.

    It’s not helpful when someone immediately tries to “one up” or relate with what you’re going through, saying “I’ve been there too, oh I know exactly what you’re going through.” Honestly, none of us really knows EXACTLY what someone else is going through, none of us have ever been in that exact mix of circumstances, with that exact mix of history, and that exact mix of personality traits, etc. When I’m struggling and sharing my need/struggles, it’s not the best time for someone else to unload/dump their struggles on me or try to make mine look light in comparison to what they have endured. Although this may help at some point further down the road, at the point of intense and overwhelming pain, it isn’t very helpful.

  11. 311
    Laura says:

    When I was going through a bad time the most helpful thing that someone did for me was scheduled a time and place to meet wtih me every week. I think most people tend to isolate during hard times. This regular meeting with a friend kept me connected and helped me heal.

  12. 312
    valerie says:

    Helpful: A friend who listens & one you feel you can be completely honest with, without judgement. A hug & “I love you & I will be praying” (and you know they will). An unexpected, encouraging card or note arriving in the mail.
    Not Helpful: When the friend immediately starts giving advice instead of listening & isn’t very compassionate. Advice may be accepted later, but when a person is hurting initially, just listen & love.

  13. 313
    Melissa says:

    Helpful- letting people know you are praying for them and ask if there is anything they need! JUST LISTENING!

    Not Helpful- when friends avoid you because they don’t know what to say or do about your circumstances. Also, trying to persuade someone what they should do based on how you think you would handle the situation. I’ve found out that you NEVER know how you are going to react until it happens to you so you should not judge how others react to a situation/circumstance.

  14. 314
    Kristen Keeling says:

    It really helps me when someone takes me straight back to His Word! I respond better when it’s God telling me what I’m doing wrong & need to fix rather than the person, you know? Also, what really helps me is that they identify with where I am. It really doesn’t help when someone acts like they have it all together and you’re problem (whether it be emotions, situations, people, etc.) is completely isolated. We’ve all been there! When someone is real and genuine, pointing me back to holiness & righteousness while still loving me and not condemning….that’s how you make disciples.

  15. 315
    Allison C. Lee says:

    It HELPS me when: The person just actually listens and offers to pray right on the spot.

    It’s NOT helpful when: They offer up the first bit of shallow advice that comes to mind…as to just fill silence.

    EVEN WORSE: When someone says “This to shall pass.” I’m thinking…”It might or it just might kill me but please shut up.”

    Love Yall…

  16. 316
    Heather says:

    This year has been a tuff one for me!! I never thought I would be getting divorce! But through all the stress of it what has helped me most is prayer from my family, friends, and church family. And reading scriptures that encourage.
    What hasn’t helped is people ( I’m sure they mean well) who bad mouth my ex! Sure it feels nice to hear someone else say what I may be feeling or thinking. But it gets me no where! And I don’t want to spend time in the negative things. I have been so blessed through this…..what the devil intends for harm, God intends for good!! Praising God through this strom!!

  17. 317
    Cheryl says:

    Cheryl , midlothiian
    It’s helpful : when they let me talk it through the issues and feelings without condemnation as well as help and support a plan to get out of the hurt or as you say pit. Then do regular checkins as many people walk away once the excitement of the immediate crisis is over.
    It’s not helpful to get trite bible psych babble . God brought you to it and will get you thru it . Or condemnation or worse war stories.
    In other words love (action love not just feeling love) me up.

  18. 318
    Joan says:

    not helpful…. comments about why this happened. not letting me be real with the pain of my situation. doing nothing.

    helpful… letting me be real about the situation. BEING THERE!! There is no exact thing to do – that depends on the situation – but you have to be there and available to act, whether it be holding a hand, being silent, or helping with stuff that needs done (food, cleaning, ect.) I have found more people tend to stay away in very painful situations because they don’t want to say something dumb to hurt a person and then hurt a person because they stay away.

  19. 319
    kim says:

    what helps is someone just validates i have feelings and it does not make it a fact

    what does not help is people who point every little detail of how i messed up because i am already aware of them i assure you of that

  20. 320
    Michelle says:

    It really helps me when someone encourages me through love and prayer. To sit with my sisters in Christ have them pray over me and lay their hands on me is priceless.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone tries to solve my problems for me and tells me what they would do if they were me. That really confuses me.

  21. 321
    Brenda Gill says:

    It really helps when someone lets me unload and provides food for thought:
    • Points to a character in the Bible who must’ve felt the same way when…
    • Doesn’t take me at face value and plays devil’s advocate to test my belief (as appropriate of course)
    • Finds the humor in my circumstance – praise God for hilarious, quirky friends!!
    • Shares from their own history a similar circumstance and how God used it
    • Admitting they don’t know why this is happening but reminding me of God’s promises and love
    Not Helpful:
    • Says they’ll pray for me because they don’t know what else to say – I like to write prayers over people, especially those I don’t know as well, so they can feel His power as they read it

  22. 322
    Amanda says:

    I once had a dear friend pray for me. Not for me like most people, but she prayed the words I couldn’t. She started with, “Father, my dear friend is too hurt and angry to speak with You right now, so I’m sharing her heart for her.” It was the kindest guesture and immediately opened my heart. She then proceeded to pour out the hurt that I was experiencing and pleaded for insight, courage, and relief. What a TOTAL blessing! Stop talking ladies and start PRAYING!

  23. 323
    J says:

    I have been most encouraged when people can see beyond my present disappointment to the glory that will be revealed, when they remind me that my pain will be redeemed so that I am able to encourage others.

    (In the moment the person may not find it encouraging, because you don’t care about helping others when you are in this kind of pit. But, somehow in your subconcious, you are reminded that the suffering is not in vain.)

    An example: Several years ago I was ranting and raving on my anger at God and his word, his promises which he doesn’t seem to keep. (At the time I claimed he doesn’t keep them.) A patient friend listened to me for a good while… then out of the blue claimed with certainty, “God is going to use you to encourage others. It might be one on one, or it might be before groups, but he will use you.”

    People want to know that their suffering has purpose, and that God is good to redeem you.

    What doesn’t help – avoiding the person because you don’t know what to say or do. In my opinion, it’s the worst thing you can do.

  24. 324
    Dana says:

    Helpful: SCRIPTURE and prayer, hugs, empathy.

    Not helpful: cliches, not really listening, not checking back with me.

  25. 325

    It really helps me when…people, through the unction of the Holy Spirit, speak Words of Truth to me.

    It is really un-helpful when…people give un-asked for advice (unless it is Truth) when I am struggling and just need to talk.

  26. 326
    NancyS says:

    In the months after I lost my husband in a fishing accident, what helped were those people who prayed for me, invited me to just hang with them–no strings attached–or who loved on me with random acts of kindness. Also listening to me (sometimes over and over) without trying to come up with solutions.

    The least helpful were those who told me how much worse others had it or tried to give me projects to do. I really didn’t have the energy to put together a womens retreat when I could hardly put one foot in front of the other.

  27. 327
    Susan says:

    What helps:
    #1-Prayer. At a distance, without even letting me know. God knows, that’s all that matters.
    #2-Unconditional love. The kind Christ has for us. The kind that I know no matter what I’ve done, I’m loved.
    #3-A LISTENING ear and an open heart. Not advice unless I ask for it.
    What doesn’t help:
    a-Someone telling me, “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” Or several someones telling me. (Once is enough. After that I need God.)
    b-being discussed behind my back.(Even under the guise of a prayer request.)

  28. 328
    joyce bailey says:

    helps: suggestion of a book to read; written out prayers prayed for me; asking permission first to share my need with others; love receiving a card in my mailbox;

    doesn’t help: initial concern followed by: nothing

    (every women’s ministry worker needs to read these posts; thanks for the insight)

  29. 329
    Tasha says:

    It helps when someone lives Christ’s love, is real, on a daily basis and then is trustworthy. They pray, feel for you and come back again and again even if you’ve told them something bad.
    It doesn’t help when people carry themselves as they have no issues, or that they are holier than others cause they pray, read etc more….doesn’t help when people listen and then tell others even for “prayer” purposes. This just makes it hard to trust anyone but God.

  30. 330
    shannon conner says:

    what is helpful: when someone just listens, I’ll figure it out I just need someone to listen

    NOT helpful: a “holier-than-thou” attitude: a person cannot possibly relate because they would never have such a problem because they are so holy. 🙂

  31. 331
    Sue H says:

    It’s helpful when someone encourages, supports and/or prays for (or with) me.
    It’s not helpful when someone doesn’t truly listen and makes it all about him/her.

  32. 332
    Holli says:

    The thing that really bothers me is that people seem to always kick you when you are down. Even if you don’t agree with what’s going on in someone’s life, you can find Something positive to comment on- something uplifting, pleasant. If a person can’t think of something nice to say, they should take the advice of Thumper (from “Bambi”), “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” If you can’t find something nice to say, either keep quiet or stay home.

  33. 333
    Tammy Fell says:

    It really helps me when someone listens, and offers to not only pray for me, but to pray with me.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone tells me she wouldn’t have done it that way, especially when advice given is contrary to God’s word. We all will respond differently to different situations, but the Word is Truth, and shouldn’t be deviated from.

  34. 334
    Cindy says:

    What Helps: The mosst powerful, and wonderful thing has been when a person does not just say, “I will pray for you” but stops and says, “Lets stop and pray RIGHT NOW” and that person puts thier arm around me and cries out to the LORD right then and thier on my behalf. When they show genuine love and concern.

    What does not help: Fake, surface Christianity. Lip service. Sugar Coating. Badgering. Acting like they know what I am going through, when they dont even have a clue.

  35. 335
    Dora says:

    What helps? When someone takes that one extra step – no matter how small – to show they truly care for me. Ex, friend prayed for me during cancer scare and after surgery when I announced everything ok – what blew me away is – she immediately got in her car and drove to church to stand in front of Jesus to give thanks. To her that is just what she does, but she made me feel so special that she would do that for ME.

    What doesn’t help? When someone gives me unsolicited advice – especially when they have never been in the situation I am in.

  36. 336
    Patti says:

    It is very helpful to me when someone listens well. As I’ve been on an emotional healing journey, and as God has been teaching me and healing my emotions, not only has He taught me to have fellowship with Him, but He has taught me how to communicate with others, and more specifically, how to listen. As I’ve learned to listen to Him, He has taught me to listen to others, especially my loved ones.

    I do not find Christian catch phrases and pat answers helpful at all. If you don’t know what to say, tell me you don’t know what to say, and offer a hug instead.

  37. 337
    Tamara says:

    What helps when I’m going through a hard situation is someone who will listen and talk to me usually a friend at church or someone close to me who can be both understanding and also give me advice on my situation.
    What’s not helpful is people who judge or spread gossip and rumors or make their own assumptions about things without having a clue about all the issues.

  38. 338
    Sandra says:

    It really helps me when someone says:

    I don’t know what to say or do, please know I will love you through it.

    Also, my bff tenderly asked me (when my husband of 30 years had left me), “What is it you want?” It helped me clarify what I was seeking and what to pray for.

    It is least helpful when someone says….

    You know, lots of women have been through this and they survived just fine (this translates to me, suck it up and get over yourself!).

  39. 339
    Lynda Fink says:

    It really helps when someone is genuinely concerned, hugs and simply I love you and care what’s going on in your life.

    It really doesn’t help when someone who leads women’s ministries at church begins a blog by making comments about their cozy and comfortable life.

  40. 340
    Jennifer T says:

    I am reading these and AMEN-ing my head off!
    Momma Beth, you mentioned “falling into sin” as one reason we tumble, so I’ve been reflecting on that.
    I find it helpful when someone confronts me in LOVE and reminds me of the truth of my identity in Christ. That what I am doing/saying grieves the Holy Spirit.. putting my very inards at odds. No wonder I tumble in that place. The BEST friends are brave enough to pull me aside and talk/listen/pray and then… this is huge… put arms on it. Hold me accoutable or set up simple reminders/tools so the sin cycle gets interrupted and Truth can interject (?) each subsequent temptation. Satan hates that kind of practical stuff.
    I find it unhelpful when someone condones my selfishness. “You deserve (fill in the blank)!” or “Jennifer, you’re such a strong Christian, don’t be hard on yourself over this.” Meanwhile I’m really struggling in my flesh and gross brokenness.

  41. 341
    Sharon McGee says:

    I was diagnosed with cancer on April 28th this year and it has been difficult. It really helps me when someone just shows love through a meal or a note. I have received over 200 cards since my diagnosis and one seems to come just when I need a lift. To be remembered that way is so comforting. And I had a surprise sign hung from a tree in my yard just last week saying Be still and know that I am God. I have no idea who did it but what a blessing it is to see that sign each day.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone asks how things are going and proceeds to tell me of someone they know who died from cancer in the same sentence. That does not inspire hope in someone in this fight.

  42. 342
    Karen says:

    I have found that what really helps me is someone who genuinely listens to me and undrstands what I am feeeling but, who is not afraid to get real with me and “slap” me back into reality. Someone who loves me enough not to let me waller in self-pity but, who reminds me who I am in Christ an the HE knows and is bigger than what I am going through.
    What does not work with me (even though my “pitiful self”) wants it, is someone who hears me whine and whines with me. This just seems to keep me in the pit.

  43. 343
    Beverly Hudson says:

    It really helps me when someone listens, really listens. And when they do respond, they do so in faith, based on what God’s Word says, or if they don’t know what to say, they simply say so, but with a sincere promise to pray until God releases them from it. That means more than anything because I know someone is battling it with me.

    It really does not help when someone starts in with their opinion or feelings based on their belief system that is generally faith-less or negative. I just want to say “ok, see ya later, thanks anyway.”

  44. 344
    Anonymous says:

    Enduring a devastating life tragedy, friends in Christ did the typical calls, cards and emails of love and encouragement. I was at a place where I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone- didn’t answer the phone or reply to emails. BUT – every contact was meaningful – letting me know that people cared and were praying. My word to others (and myself now) is: keep sending those cards and emails even if there is no reply.
    What was UNhelpful was when people would tell me they’d been thru the same thing. No they hadn’t! Similar maybe- and it is somewhat helpful to know others have experienced something similar. But every situation has its own unique nuances and pain. And DON’T just come over to my house uninvited to talk to me. Leaving a note or flowers was good, but I just couldn’t do the ‘talking in person thing’.

  45. 345
    Lauren says:

    Helpful: just love me where I am. Sit with me, cry with me, just love me. Let Jesus do the fixing because only He can.

    UNhelpful: don’t try to fix me. don’t judge me with how you would do it better.

  46. 346
    Rebekah says:

    It really helps me when someone takes the time to pray with me, just not tell me they are praying. That time of prayer fellowship means a lot.

    It really helps me when someone sends a small card or just a brief phone call letting me know that they have been thinking of me and praying for me – even dropping a line on Facebook – just something that lets me know I’m not in this alone, but that God cares enough for me to put me on the mind of someone. Sharing a Scripture verse etc.

    It really does not help me when someone pats my arm and says, “Sweetie, let me share with you what happened to me” and shares something that just doesn’t compare with what I”m feeling or going through. It’s a kind gesture on their part, but some times I just need to know that what I’m going through sucks and that someone cares enough to stop for a moment and prayer with me/for me.

  47. 347
    Jana says:

    It really helps me when someone LISTENS truly listens with out judgement. Especially when I say something that a good Christian woman shouldn’t say, but I’m trying to put out there what is going on in my head.
    It really doesn’t help me when someone gives pat answers or becomes judgmental or tries to solve all my problems. I know that they are trying to be helpful, but it doesn’t work and it actually turns me off from sharing more. (I must confess that I am guilty of doing this also)

  48. 348
    Crystal says:

    What helps? A listening ear, honest feedback, calling to check on me and your prayers.

    What doesn’t help? Comments like, God won’t give you more than you can handle or this trial is for your good, etc. OK, while that may be true, I’m not feeling that at the moment.

  49. 349
    Amie says:

    It really helps me when someone…I have two friends that I can call and tell them the issue. They will listen, yet cut me short out of my pity party, usually have a verse on hand that fits the situation and pray over the phone with me then and there. Their truth and belief in God is what really works for me.

    It really doesn’t help me when someone…is not really listening wholeheartedly, but instead has their mind on how they are going to tell me how to fix the problem.

  50. 350
    Tammy G says:

    It really helps when someone is honest, when they tell me what I don’t necessarily want to hear. It really helps to have a friend who hears God’s voice over mine.

    It doesn’t help when someone sits down with me in the mud and gets dirty than I already am.

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