We’re thinking of friendship in its thick-and-thin sense, today. Among our circle will be friends who are going through tough times and need someone near them. Sometimes, fear of saying the wrong thing makes us stay away, but so often all that’s needed is some company and a listening ear.

Green: Call a friend who you know is struggling and ask them how they are.

Amber: Give a small thing like a card or their favourite food to let a friend who is sad know that you are thinking of them.

Red: When you speak to someone, listen carefully to what they tell you and, if anything rings alarm bells, ask them if they’d like you to go with them to get extra support elsewhere.

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy…” (Proverbs 27:9 TPT)

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” (Stephen R. Covey)

I think this quote represents a lot of what’s wrong with our communication. When I haven’t seen a friend for a while, I can find myself planning whatever brilliant story I am going to tell him/her next whilst only half listening to what they are saying to me. But it’s a great feeling when I talk to someone and can see they are genuinely listening and interested in what I have to say. People who invest in a conversation and care, whether they have just met you or been your friend for years, are literally the best.

I’ve found that if a friend is going through a hard time, they may not want immediate advice and solutions to their problems. Instead, they probably just want someone to listen and to sympathise – I offer advice if they ask for it but first let them talk for as long as they need. I think it’s ok if you have no idea how it feels to go through what they are going through; I usually just say so as it’s much more authentic.

I have lived in the same house all my life so my family know a lot of people locally. In fact, we have a running joke that it is impossible to walk across the Broadway without seeing someone you know. I was complaining to my dad the other day that I’m often running a little late because I leave the house with just enough time to get somewhere but then bump into someone who I feel I ought to talk to. But I don’t end up talking to them properly as I’m worrying about being late. My dad simply said to me, ‘Leave earlier and then you can have time for people,’ so that’s what I’m trying to do more!

Jesus’ ministry only lasted three years and He had a huge amount to pack in. In Mark’s Gospel He is always journeying from town to town, but on His travels He spends time with the people He encounters: the unpopular, the outsider, the beggar and the lame person. Each person knew they had been listened to and cared for.

Flo lives in North London and is currently in year 13 preparing for her A Levels.
She will take a gap year next year and plans to go on a mission trip before studying psychology at university.

Today’s charity is: Samaritans

The Samaritans provide support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline.