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Even when I'm not going through major changes, there may be someone in my friendship circle that is. Supporting and encouraging each other through the many shifts and transitions of life is one of the many benefits of belonging to a caring network of like-minded people. A loving church family. An encouraging fellowship or friendship group.
In fact, that's part of the mission of the church - for believers to encourage one another! Yes, we get together to hear the Word preached, to worship corporately, and to learn from each other and encourage each other.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~Hebrews 10:24-25
We should offer and receive this support, not just in church fellowship, but other friendships and relationships too. Whatever upheaval in my life I'm dealing with, someone else in my group has dealt with something similar enough that they can understand. It's never exactly the same, of course, but it's enough for them to extend caring and compassion, and maybe even a word of advice. There's also someone that can benefit from the caring and counsel I can offer because I've navigated a similar season of change in the past.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ~II Corinthians 1:3-4
Your experience might be similar, but it's not exactly the same, so don't assume "I know exactly how you feel." Especially in a grief situation. Listen and acknowledge the emotional roller coaster that times of change can bring.
Encouragement Over Advice
Encouraging a friend or loved one through a tough time usually turns out better than giving them a checklist of what you think they should do. Depending on the situation! When a friend is moving, maybe she does need your organizational skills and appreciates you telling her what to pack first or how to get jobs done; but when she's just stressed about the whole thing or anxious about being far away from everything she's familiar with, she probably doesn't need a how-to talk nearly as much as she needs you to remind her that she will do great and that you will be praying for her and cheering her on.
If you can lend a hand in a very practical way, do it. Bring a meal, offer to watch the kids or give rides, or whatever tangible help might relieve the stress. It doesn't always sound as practical, but it often turns out to be - help a stressed out friend take a break from the chaos by taking them out for a cup of coffee, having them just sit and relax for a bit.
Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis, a good hot cup of coffee. ~Alexander King
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~I Thessalonians 5:11
How can your experience help someone else?
See my related posts:
It's tempting now for those of us who remember those days to be discouraged, and wonder why our group's membership is static (or maybe even shrinking) even while the homeschooling movement is growing dramatically. Tempting to wonder what we should be doing differently in order to get our members to attend the activities we do have, or to participate in planning activities. Don't get me wrong - I think we should be doing our best to grow our support groups and to encourage involvement from all our members. And we may need to adjust our expectations or how we operate in order to better serve the changing homeschool community, because the homeschool community and some of its needs are changing.However, I also believe that one important need of homeschool families - and moms in particular - remains the same. We need the friendship of other homeschool moms. We need the understanding and support of moms who are or who have been walking a very similar road. I also believe that the support is best found in real life. Not that online message boards, Facebook groups, and blogging communities aren't valuable sources of information and encouragement - of course they are, or I wouldn't be involved in them! - but I don't think virtual "interaction" should completely replace real world interactions.
For the Write 28 Days Blogging Challenge, I've decided to explore the theme of living well and with purpose during times of change. A few years ago, as I neared the end of my years as a homeschool mom, I realized my world would change when my youngest graduated. My roles in the homeschool community and in my social circles were affected. Things changed in the workplace. Things are ever changing at church. And as my children grew up and the nest has begun to empty, family dynamics are changing. To our surprise, my husband's job ended at the very beginning of 2022, and that has brought another round of changes to consider! I know very well that writing about coping with change is not the same as having all the answers. I'll do my best to share what I'm learning and experiencing, and I'd love to hear from others in the comments.
This post is part of the Write 28 Days Blogging Challenge hosted by Anita Ojeda. Find all my posts for the 2022 challenge here: 28 Days of Coping With Change
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