By Adam Weber
I never cease to be amazed by how many Facebook friends we can have and yet many of us feel like we don’t have one friend we can call when we’re struggling. Not one person we can sit with when we’re hurting. Not one person to keep us on the right path when we’re being tempted.
Not one person who stays when we make a mistake.
We’re so “connected,” yet we don’t have one other person who will show up when we need someone to be there the most? One person to show up when no one else does?
There are few greater blessings in this life than having dear friends. The people who answer the phone and just listen. The people who come over when they say they’re coming over. The people who help you out when you need someone. The people who are just there. You don’t need to impress them. You can just be with them.
Do you have anyone in your life like this? People who will show up? Sometimes we don’t realize our deep need until we’re faced with frustrating circumstances, a huge crowd, an unexpected trial, an extremely hard season. Until we’re face-to-face with the unimaginable. We all need people like this, but we also need to be people like this.
Do you have people like that? Are you that person to others?
If you don’t have people like this right now, don’t get discouraged, or think this lesson doesn’t apply to you. Be the kind of person who has a love that stays despite the circumstances. Ever heard the phrase “you have to be a friend to have a friend?” It might sound cheesy but it’s so true in this case. Just because you don’t have people in your life like this yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be that person in someone else’s life. Taking the initiative to stay instead of leave is a sure way to build that kind of community around you, trust me.
When others leave, love stays.
It stays with people when it is uncomfortable.
It’s easy to love others when life is easy. But it’s much more difficult when you don’t know what to say or how to help another person through their situation. Staying can look different in each relationship, but I’ve found that a love that stays requires a few things from us:
- Staying with people means having the hard conversations. We typically run from anything that’s difficult. But staying with someone and loving them in a difficult season will require a lot of difficult conversations. Ask the hard questions. Have the awkward conversations. And don’t leave!
- Pray. Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do for someone, particularly in a hard season. All you can do is pray and get through it. Pray for the person regularly. Pray for them in person. Pray for them when they come to mind. Pray, pray, and pray some more. Stand with them. Privately and publicly. Stick your neck out for them.
- Encourage. One of the greatest gifts we can offer another person is encouragement. Help the person see beyond today. Today might suck but it will get better. When others have no hope, give them hope. Side note: with Jesus, we always have hope! Look to him. Point others to him. There is always hope with Jesus. Tomorrow, the sun will come up!
- Finally, if at all possible, help the other person take their next step. We might not be able to solve everything, but we can help someone take the next step. Show up and help them through that difficult season, see what the next step is, and help them take it!
These aren’t easy things to do (far from it!), but each is a key ingredient to practicing a love that stays with people no matter what they’re going through. Staying is hard. Leaving is way easier, and we all know it. But speaking from experience, there’s nothing like having people in your life who stay, who love with that kind of love. And really, there’s nothing like loving other people like that, too.
I personally walked through a really tough season a few summers ago. It was a time of pruning, and honestly, it was really painful. But one of the biggest things I learned was that you can make it through anything if you have a few good friends around you. When you’re hurting, when you’re scared, when you can’t make it to Jesus, people who will pick you up and get you there—right where you needed to be all along—are who you need to surround yourself with.
Real love is just there. It doesn’t back away when things get hard. In fact, it works harder, doing whatever it takes, dragging us no matter how thick the crowd, how hard the decision.
Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a multi-site church based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Author of Talking With God and Love Has A Name, he also hosts a podcast called The Conversation.