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Why Your Strong Friends Aren’t Okay Right Now. (And How To Help Us)

Why Your Strong Friends Aren’t Okay Right Now. (And How To Help Us)

You know that meme “Check on your strong friend”? Well, they may not be okay. As we move deeper into the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been struggling. And afraid to say it. But I need to say something. So today I’m writing to tell you why your strong friends aren’t okay right now. (And how to help us). Really, how to help ANY friend.

So this is part confessional, part devotional. Is that a thing?

Many times (not always), I am that “strong friend.” The happy one. The worker bee. The “sure I’ll do that” one. 

But the truth is. I am not okay. Months before anybody heard the word “coronavirus,” I’d felt myself crumbling.

I tried. In my own way, I tried to “ask for help.” I’d tell people I was “feeling a little tired, but going to catch up this weekend on rest.” Or, I’d post about a great devotional I’d read, and secretly hope people would ask “why that one?” 

I tried to rally. I took naps. I read extra Bible pages. I thumbed through devotional books. I let hubby take care of a few some many household chores. I gave up my exercise time to catch up on work. I burned the midnight oil. Because this is what the strong friend does. It’s part of our identity. This being dependable. We even feel it as our calling, perhaps. Or maybe we fear if we fall apart, nobody will be there to catch us.

What it’s like for a strong friend: 

These past few weeks I have struggled. I have struggled to bring my thoughts into captivity. I’ve tried to agree with people saying “don’t believe the hype.” Then on the way home, I’d stop for twelve cans of tuna fish. I’d chuckle at coronavirus memes (they are funny!). Then order extra bottles of Vitamin D. Or C. And some B too, because gotta have energy, right?

I have let my fiction-wired mind invent a thousand plot points.

I have panic-bought (random items like four packs of Q-tips and a pile of strawberry-flavored natural licorice. Evidence my brain is short-circuiting!). 

I have lain awake. Or woken up from dead sleep. 

I have had pains in my chest (not lungs! chest). 

I’m embarrassed to admit all this. But it’s important for people to see this not-okay side of me.

People don’t see I CREATE because I’m constantly anticipating problems and creating solutions. Sometimes these problems are imagined. And sometimes, I come up with a really good idea I like to share with you all and THAT is all you see.

I ORGANIZE because preparation is my happy place, where I feel good about myself. I said to hubby the other day, “If I don’t prepare now, and find out I need something in two weeks. I will despise my today-self in hindsight.”

I DO projects and activities because action = success. Inaction = failure. 

Whatever their/your reasons. I’m telling you — it’s very likely right now–during this outbreak–your strong friends (or you!) are not okay. 

Why your strong friends aren’t okay right now:

We rely on our wits. We analyze. We assess risk. We circumnavigate a problem and use creative problem-solving skills to get around it. We ask questions, get info, and make plans. We aren’t afraid to revise those plans either. 

We rely on our preparations. We are list makers. Excel gurus. There’s no spreadsheet we don’t like. We have plan A, B, C, through Z. We have backups to the backups. We have extra extras. We store, stash, and save for rainy days. We write posts about rainy days to help other people through. Because we have analyzed (see above), we’ve curated everything necessary for the job. 

We rely on taking action. We love to get into the thick of it. Sign us up. We’ll make you a meal. Clean your house. Drive your kids. We want to set up, tear down, and bake the brownies too. We have plates on plates spinning, and we relish seeing them all in action. (and if one falls, see above, we’ve got a plan for that, too). We make printables to help kids know when to wash your hands (go get yours!)

Most of the above descriptions fall under the giftings of administration. We LOVE to bless and serve others with these gifts of foresight, organization, and action. This is NOT us showing off. This is us living inside our giftings. 

But here’s the problem. 

A virus? Sweeping the world. Knocking out countries one by one. Leaders making (or not making) decisions in a timely manner. Realizing that toilet paper and extra bread doesn’t protect us (like it surely will during a snowstorm!). This virus is not something we can control.

Oh yes, there I said it. Control. Some of you probably already guessed. Your strong friends very likely struggle with control. We are the consummate managers of our own lives!

A caveat. It is NOT that we don’t have faith. We love God. We know He wants what is best for us. We understand ultimately He’s in control and in charge.

The thing is, we aren’t TRYING to “do it alone.” It’s just that sometimes our giftings of administration come on so strongly, it’s easy for us to just START doing it alone before we’re aware that we’ve taken the wheel. 

But a virus is not something we can administrate. Because when you can’t see what’s coming at you, when the facts (and fakes) change daily, when your plans and everyone else’s get cancelled – how can you administrate THAT?

Strong Friends Do

How to help your strong friend (or yourself!)

I wrote these truths down to get my thoughts back on God! Remind your strong friends of these truths (because there is nothing we love more than the facts!). 

The Answer is Christ.

Our minds crave answers. God gave us amazing administrative minds. Don’t use them to let thoughts run a hamster wheel of fear, but to give answers of hope! 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
II Timothy 1:17

Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: I Peter 3:15

Help us bring “every thought into captivity,” and trust God has a purpose for us, even in this. His spirit of power, the love he bestows on us, the sound mind He renews, allows us to best serve the Lord and our neighbors.

Our fear is simply the wrong answer (and we hate having the wrong answer!). The answer lies in accepting the gift of power, love, and sound mind.

The best Preparation is Peace in our hearts.

Part of our defense in the “armor of God” is to prepare our hearts with peace. All the stockpiles in the world might fill your shelves and basements. But they do not fill your heart with peace. Only God does that.

Esther did not prepare herself. God prepared her. And she walked boldly in. (Rabbit Trail: I am considering the implications of Esther being isolated in a palace during a time where the Jewish people must have been rampant with fear!).

God has already prepared us. He has given us “foot protection” for our walk through this fire. Put the shoes on! We can walk boldly through this trial in peace because God is before and behind us. 

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Ephesians 6:15

Resting is an Action verb despite its meaning!

We “strong friends” get a great deal of satisfaction from a job well done. God gets that! He looked at each day of Creation and said, “it is good!” But He also provided a day of rest.

He gave us the example of Mary versus Martha. Like Martha, nobody sees we are actually cumbered and troubled. We hide it well. Jesus reminded Martha she needed to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His words. She needed His words more than Her work. And she needed His words to DO His work. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
 
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

Yes, there will be time in the coming days to act out our love. Our giftings will be needed to plan and problem solve. Always. But to do that, we must be sure our Foundation is solidly resting in the Lord.

Help for Strong Friends 

So to recap:

We prepare best by drawing close to God:

The answer is Christ.

Our Preparation is Peace.

Our action is Rest.

I hope, if you’re that “strong friend,” this has helped you in some way. And if you know that strong friend, please, remind them of these truths from God’s Word!

More ways to help your strong friend (Or really, ANY friend!)

  • Call them. Or text. Or, wow, send an old-fashioned email!
  • Pray for them. And tell them specifically what you’re praying over them. 
  • Remind them to practice self-care. They often waive their own needs in favor of others’.
  • Explicitly them off the hook. They will likely not want to retract a promise they’ve made to you. 
  • Bring them coffee. Because it’s unlikely they’ll stop working for long!
  • Share a favorite Bible verse. If you’re techy, make them a screensaver or wallpaper of it. Psalm 91 is a great place to start. 
  • Share a favorite memory, joke, book, quote. They need to be able to laugh. And to feel connected.
  • Share this post “If God, then What?”. So good. Better than I can say it! 
  • Or this piece on “Disaster, Disease, and the Dow – Is this the end?” – it is hard hitting but I promise you not as dire as the title!

Please share my post with others if it has encouraged you!

how to help your friend

Twana

Friday 27th of March 2020

So thankful for your post so I can share it vs create it😂😂😂?

Also, so thankful for my peace. It took YEARS for me to be this calm now. I know who I am, where I came from, WHY I'M HERE, and where I'm going 💖.

This "Martha" still wants to "help everyone" but without any fear.

#PEACE

Donna Person

Friday 13th of March 2020

Us Martha's need to stick together as we learn how to be more like the Mary's. l love the intentionality of God including that exchange befween Martha and Jesus in Luke's gospel. Initially I read it as a reprimand. But now I see it as a reminder that God gets us -all of us - Mary or Martha and everyone in between. He knows what makes us tick, and meets where we are, the way he created us, and reminds to apply our gifts to seeking the kingdom first - because he wants our best. What a comforting thought!

Barbara Novotny

Friday 13th of March 2020

Julie, I went through a meltdown like this yesterday. As a doctor on the coronavirus front lines, it is overwhelming and feels very much out of our control. But, as my friend who took the brunt of my melt down yesterday, this is NOT God's first rodeo. He can and has worked for the good in every panic, epidemic, and war that there has been. And, he can and will do "immeasurably more than you could ask or think according to his power that is at work within us." - Ephesian 3:20. Just know, you are not alone, and, that God has prepared you for such a time as this. Love, Barb Novotny, Steamboat Springs, CO

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Friday 13th of March 2020

Oh Julie, you and I are such kindred spirits (I already knew that.) This is beautifully written and full of great Truth and practicality. Now, if I can only do it... Btw, I laughed out loud when the word “control” showed up. I’ve long known control was at the heart of my struggles here. Love you.

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