I recently read a resource that I thought was insightful about helping members of your small group who are in crisis and struggling with depression. Given my family circumstances over the past week and how much support we have received, I felt that this was a good week to share it.
For those of you who don’t know, my wife’s grandfather passed away last Wednesday. He was a giant in our family. We received a call the weekend before and were notified that he was really beginning to struggle. After a good but difficult visit we began our trip home, only to hear that he had passed away shortly after we left. We returned a couple of days later for his funeral and burial.
We got home this past Monday evening. On Tuesday morning I woke up to the news that my dad was in the hospital and needed emergency surgery to install a pacemaker. My parents live an hour away, so I immediately went to be with them. I am thankful to say that the surgery went very well and the pacemaker is doing it’s job. He is recovering well at home. It was a long 48 hours from the time I learned of his situation to when I took him home from the hospital.
Over the course of these couple of weeks, we have received numerous sympathy cards and text messages of support. It meant the world to hear from you all. We were away from home, and missing work, not to mention missing our church family. Your efforts to reach out and express care and concern reminded us that we are loved and that you supported us.
Everyone goes through those difficult seasons of life. Everyone needs to be reminded that they are loved; that their absence has been noticed, and that they are missed. Everyone needs to know that they have the support of their church family and friends when they are walking through dark times.
Is there someone in your small group that is struggling right now? Has your group responded to encourage them? Does your group have a plan to care for one another when someone faces a crisis?
Sunday School that WORKS is Organized to Serve, and Keeps People Connected. We mobilize when someone needs ministry. We don’t let each other walk down difficult paths alone. We live out the gospel in one another’s lives. We rescue those who need to be rescued.
Here are some ideas that I hope will be helpful:
When a person is experiencing depression, it’s difficult to know how to be present with him or her in the darkness. You want to let your friend know that you are caring and supportive, but you may feel drained by the heaviness and pessimism when you are with the person. Here are some tips to help you serve your friend:
Actively listen. Encouraging your friend to talk about his or her sadness will foster understanding, which can help the person feel a sense of control over his or her emotions instead of feeling controlled by them. Although the feelings may frighten you, don’t be afraid; just listen as you would to any friend.
Spend time with your friend. When a person is depressed, the natural tendency is to hide from others and try to recover on one’s own, but that’s exactly the opposite of what is needed. A depressed person needs other people! Your presence will help shoulder the burden of depression, allow for rest, stave off loneliness, guard against thoughts of suicide, and provide strength.
Suggest enjoyable activities. Share your joy! Suggest activities that your depressed friend once enjoyed or those that you enjoy. Even if your friend seems resistant, there is a part of him or her that longs to do enjoyable things—it’s simply buried under depression. Be persistent!
Exercise. You will be helping your friend immensely by committing to regularly exercise with him or her. Do it once a week, twice a week, even daily—any little bit will help! Play a sport, take an exercise class, or walk together after dinner.
Prepare meals. When a friend is depressed, he or she may lose the motivation to cook and the desire to eat. Offer to prepare meals for your friend or to cook together. The food and the fellowship will be invaluable!
Be nonjudgmental. Depressed people judge themselves every day, so the last thing they need is a friend who judges them, too. Communicate patience and grace. By doing this, you may help your friend become more patient and gracious toward him or herself.
I love and appreciate every one of you. Remember to be busy building up momentum for November 4th. Spread the word that the Fall Festival is next Wednesday night, and it will be a truly spectacular event. Help us get the word out to friends and neighbors to bring their families and share in the fun!
As always, I appreciate your thoughts in the comment fields below or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dwalker96sc