My friend was struggling with depression and I wasn’t sure how to help. For several months, life circumstances had sent her mental health into a tailspin. With no foreseeable end in sight. They were justified emotions, all of them.
As I prayed for her one morning, asking God to please meet her where she was and comfort her, I couldn’t help but wonder if my prayers were even making a difference. How can I be a better friend? I thought.
I sent her a text before starting my day, just to let her know that I was thinking of her and her family. She didn’t text back. It wasn’t the first time she hadn’t responded, and I wondered if I’d said or done something wrong, but I didn’t push or even ask.
I waited for a few days and then—after talking to a mutual friend who encouraged me again to reach out—I decided to just give her a call.
When she picked up after several rings, I simply asked her if she was okay. Immediately she burst into tears. The past several weeks of sorrow spilled out as I listened. My own tears ran unchecked, landing in drops on my sweatshirt. As she poured out her heart about family members and illness, stress and uncertainty, I listened to the burdens she was carrying, and I grieved with her. We prayed together and then I invited her and her girls over later that week. She agreed.
I hung up, thinking how foolish it was of me to think her nonresponse had something to do with me. And although I was grateful that I had finally called her, I regretted not reaching out sooner.
A few days later as she and her girls came to our house, the kids played in our yard while we drank tea on the patio. We again talked about all that she was going through and how hard the past several months had been. I told her that I loved her; I was here for her whenever she needed me. She nodded in understanding. We embraced before she left, and I told her I’d check in with her again.
Since then, I have continued to reach out to my friend. Sometimes she doesn’t respond, at least not right away. But this experience has taught me that sometimes it’s important to keep pursuing our friends, to keep loving and encouraging them, even when they do not respond. We all go through hard seasons, and some last longer than others. Sometimes life is exhausting. We need friends who will stick with us and be there for us, even when we aren’t reciprocating.
I’m determined to be that kind of friend. I don’t want to let my own insecurities keep me from loving the people around me well. Because even though I may be the one being intentional to love my friend during her hard season, down the road, I may need her to be the one there for me. As I pray once again for my friend, I open my Bible and read 1 Corinthians 13:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
I Corinthians 13:4-7, The Message
As friends, let’s love without keeping score. Let’s pray without reservation. Let’s show up with no strings attached. Just love.