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Why you have to follow up after someone shares his or her struggles

By: lindsay frist

The last few years of my life have been nothing short of a rollercoaster. I wrote an in-depth story about my life, which my therapist summarized as a time of “severe depression” and “anxiety disorder.” Great.

As you can imagine, that put quite a strain on my relationships. Some people embraced my season of depression and anxiety, and there were those I wished would have realized how much their kindness and acceptance could have helped me through. That began my voyage of learning about loving others: where they are, how they are, quirks, crazy, and all — because I am quite quirky, crazy, and all.

One of the most essential things I discovered was the importance of following up and how it demonstrates care for people.

How Follow Up Makes a Difference

I have at many times said I would pray for someone and I haven’t. I’ve felt the sting of pouring my heart out to someone, but they never followed up to ask how I was doing. They both hurt for different reasons, but the crux of the matter is the same. We have to be a people who love each other so much that we follow through. (If the Gavin DeGraw song is running through your mind now, you’re welcome.)

I played baseball and softball for 16 years. When players are up to bat, coaches tell them to follow through. The concept is simple: if you stop your swing after you make contact with the ball, it doesn’t go very far. But when you swing the bat and continue the movement of swinging that bat after you make contact, the ball goes further with more accuracy than it would without the follow through. See where I’m going here?

Support in an emotional and trying time is a source of healing for those who receive it.

When you follow up with care, support, and prayer, you can help someone through a hard time. They will go further than they would have on their own. Support in an emotional and trying time is a source of healing for those who receive it. Following up is not about fixing someone or having the right answers or perfect advice, but continuing a conversation that helps that person find healing from God and support from people.

Scripture is full of verses that tell us that we need other people (Hebrews 10:24-25). You can’t do life alone is one of our core values at NewSpring. Sometimes that means being vulnerable in sharing your struggles and pain, and sometimes it requires you to be vulnerable by listening to someone else.

It’s no small matter to help those in hard seasons. You may not know what to say when they talk about their struggles, so here are a few things I wish people knew during my time of hardship.

What I Wish Others Knew When I Was Most Desperate for Help

  • You don’t need to have all the answers, nor do I want an answer for anything right now.

I need to know you care enough to listen, that you care enough not to judge me in my weaknesses. I know you care when you watch me cry, and when I display all my emotions and you’re not scared of it. Just listen. Just be there. Hug me when I cry. Sit while I talk. Be present.

  • It takes a lot out of me to be honest.

It requires mental and emotional energy to share with you all the things that consume my thoughts. It takes all the bravery I can muster to even say these things out loud. Know it’s not easy to share, but because you honor me by listening, you are playing a part in my healing.

  • I need you to follow up with me.

I feel bad when I share from my heart, but you never ask me later how I’m feeling, or say you’re praying for me. No follow up after our conversation makes me feel that I shouldn’t share my struggles. It delays my healing. Your presence, follow up, and prayers help me get to a place of healing because I see Jesus in how you react to me.

  • I need to know that no matter what, you’ve got my back.

When you cheer me on and want the best for me, even though you don’t know what to say, you are helping so much by being there for me. Support and acceptance matter — big time! It means the world knowing you’re in my corner.

Jesus wanted us to have each other, to lean on each other (Romans 1:12). He modeled for us how He cared by inviting people to Him with all their pain (Matthew 11:28-30). You may not have the perfect answer for someone, but Jesus is the perfect answer for them. He loved, He cared, He met them where they were, and He offers healing for everyone.

That same Jesus lives in us. In Jesus, we have the power of offering healing for others. Love people, care for them, invest in them, and follow up. As their healing happens, you are a part of that story (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of that movement with Jesus — where lives are changed, healing takes place, and people are loved along the way.

Find more on relationships, care, and healing. Let us know if you need someone to follow up with you.

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