Encourage Friends: Tip # 4-Help, Tip # 5-Life

helping hands

Tip # 4 – Occasional Household Help

When a friend is overwhelmed and working hard to heal, you can provide help with the normal daily routine which could reduce the guilty feelings they may experience for not getting things done. But keep in mind, you are not taking over these tasks indefinitely. Your friend will need to move toward meeting their own responsibilities as they work toward emotional health.

Practical Suggestions

People are less likely to ask for help with a messy house than to reach out with other needs. A chaotic home is one of the more difficult things we want to share with people. But you don’t have to wait for a friend to ask for help. Call to check on this friend and casually offer your assistance with household needs. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Ask if you can pick up some items at the store, or volunteer to get their whole list. Make sure they understand they’ll be paying for the groceries unless you want to consider this a financial gift, too.
  2. Offer to help with laundry. This can also count as spending one-on-one time with your friend while you’re spending time in their home. Make this a fun time to interact and get to know each other better as you fold clean laundry.
  3. Ask if they need a little help with housework. For good boundary setting, let them know how much time you have to work and ask for their priority cleaning projects. Plan to bring your own cleaning supplies that you’re comfortable using. If you will be vacuuming, make sure they have a working vacuum you can use.
  4. Volunteer to do yard work. If they are well enough, work together. If they are unable to help, set boundaries on the amount of time you spend and the tasks you will do. Remember, helping does not mean you are taking over or doing major long-term projects.

Personal Example

Many years ago, I suffered from a deep depression that included overwhelming feelings of sadness and despair. I regularly put myself down for not taking care of my house and my family. Many days were spent in my room. My desire to stay in bed led to household tasks being left undone, and my husband struggled to balance taking care of our kids and the many things that I neglected. When I entered a short outpatient program at a psychiatric hospital, we found it even more difficult to keep up with everyday responsibilities.

A friend at church knew my situation and observed that I needed some emotional support. Leading up to my hospital admission, she had noticed I cried often during and after the service. Many times I missed attending worship altogether. After being admitted, this friend offered to come and clean my house. I said yes, with no hesitation. She brought her own cleaning supplies and spent a little time in every room doing a light dusting and vacuuming. I gratefully watched as she cleaned and swept the kitchen. She even brought flowers for our table. They had a beautiful calming effect and were a reminder of God’s beauty even among brokenness. I stayed out of her way for the most part but couldn’t help approaching her in tears on several occasions to express my gratitude. I have always remembered that gift of her time and energy.

Keeping Our Own House in Order

Men and women both have a responsibility to care for their homes as a gift from the Lord. It is important to help others, but it is equally important to be attentive to our household needs. There is a beautiful passage in Scripture that represents the productiveness and strong work of a wife, although all men and women can benefit from this example. I’m including excerpts from the passage here and invite you to think of ways you can apply your observations from this passage into your own life.

A Wife of Noble Character – Proverbs 31:10-27 (excerpts)  

13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.

14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

Tip # 5 – Encourage Participation in Life

People living with mental illness or brokenness of any kind tend to isolate from the world. During the coronavirus pandemic, isolation has being a challenge for many people since we are told to stay home and observe social distancing when out and about. Some of the suggestions below may not be possible until some of the health guidelines are reduced.

Practical Suggestions

To draw your friend out of hiding and begin to rejoin group activities, you could invite them to:

  1. Participate in a worship service or Bible study
  2. Join an exercise class with you
  3. Attend a movie night
  4. Go bowling, miniature golfing, or other recreational activity
  5. Attend a game night with friends
  6. Come to a casual brunch or dinner at your home

Scripture Lessons

When we enjoy life in a group setting, we begin to recognize individuals who can become friends and provide support in our lives. Many places in the Bible demonstrate the importance of meeting together in different settings and for a variety of reasons.

Worship

The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings. (1 Corinthians 16:19)

Fellowship and Support

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. (Acts 2:42-44)

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (John 12:1-2)

Comfort

When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone. (Luke 6:17-19)