Encouraging a Friend Who’s Waiting

We spend 4% of our lives waiting. If you’re not waiting for something today, someone you love is.

  • Someone like my friend, who’s email shared “We’re done with our adoptive home study. And now we begin the wait for our child.” (Having been there, I know that can be a LONG wait!) 
  • Or another friend who’s waiting for her newborn son to sleep more than a few hours in a row so she can think straight again. 
  • Or another, who’s waiting to hear about a job she really wants.

How can we support friends and family who are waiting for things that seem to linger just out of reach? 

Listen to their story.
Let them tell their story, share their ups and downs, and process with you. Listen with your eyes, your heart, your presence. They won’t talk about it every time you see them. (And you can take breaks for a few days if they do!) This open listening helped me tremendously when we were waiting to adopt our older girls, and even now as we wait to see what happens with our daughter in the residential facility.

Listening like this gives them permission to feel whatever they need to feel, and to live life in the now.

Be present with them.
Hang out together. Take walks. Bring them a meal. Send that text when they come to mind. Be around, both as a support and, as you and your life enters theirs each time, as a refreshing reminder that there is more to life than the wait. That this too, shall pass. And that God’s still at work even when He seems quiet in their own life for a season.

Encourage them in helpful ways.
Not with a battery of “cheer ups” and scriptures meant to end your own suffering in their wait. But encouraging like God does with us – through a word at a right moment, a gentle nudge at another. Yes, pray with and for them. Yes, share scripture. And yes, do it with discernment. The key to helpful encouragement is this: ask yourself each time whether it’s for them or for you that you want to say or share or do what’s on your mind. And listen for your honest answer.

Get support for your own wait.
Sometimes the wait a friend faces seems too long for us to handle too! It’s hard to hear about the same struggles, the same lessons being learned, the seeming lack of progress. And so we have to do the work of caring for ourselves in our part in the waiting. Keep a journal, get some exercise, or use these other tools to manage your feelings as you wait with your friend for resolution and answers.

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” ~ Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety is the hardest part about waiting. Worry over what we can’t control, about the “what ifs,” puts us flat on our faces (which is the meaning of the word depression in this verse).

When we come alongside our waiting friend to listen, be present, and give encouragement, we become a door for joy to enter their lives, even in the wait.  

Who today needs your friendship in the wait? What could you do today to support them?

~ Laurie

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