Friends In Crisis

FOUR THINGS YOUR OUTGOING + ANXIOUS FRIEND WANTS YOU TO KNOW

"You can't struggle with an anxiety," she said, "You're too outgoing!"

 It took a lot of courage for me to admit out loud that I was dealing with crippling fear on a daily basis. The whole group of women I had just laid my soul bare to, looked at me with doubt in their eyes. There is nothing worse for an anxious person to feel than to feel that  no-one believes them.

"You are so extroverted! I would NEVER have thought you struggled with fear, " another woman added. 

     True to my extroverted, outgoing nature I gave the people what they wanted and cracked a joke to lighten the room,

  "Surprise!" I said, "I guess I'm coming out of the anxiety closet!"

Everyone laughed and moved on to talking about something else and I... I felt alone.

    There is misconception out there that folks who struggle with anxiety are timid, quiet, hermit-like people. Who started this nasty rumor?

 Newsflash: Anxiety affects all personality-types. Spread the word!  Anxiety affects all kinds of people but it can look different for each person. Some of us have not picked up on the signs and symptoms of friend who struggles with chronic worry simply because we have assumed that their personality is too "outgoing" to be "fearful". 

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HERE ARE FOUR THINGS YOUR OUTGOING + ANXIOUS FRIEND WANTS YOU TO KNOW:

 

1. "Even though I am energized by people, my anxiety is often triggered by people."

       Panic attacks have been triggered by all kinds of the things, but many extroverts are triggered by an overwhelming feeling that they are letting everyone down. People are very important to outgoing personalities and whatever you consider most important, you will almost most fear losing.

2. "I often feel most anxious when I am alone."

   Nighttime can be the worst time of the day for outgoing types. All the people are  sleeping and the extrovert is left alone with their thoughts. It's the prime time to  lie in bed and count all the worries. Extended periods of time without people can make them feel nervous.  Isolation is breeding ground to create "worst scenarios" in the  mind because being around people makes an outgoing person feel safer...and being without people makes them feel vulnerable.

 

3. "Though I appear like the 'life of the party' at times... I don't always feel like the 'life of the party'."

     Outgoing people are often mistaken as confident people but insecurity is something we all face. Sometimes surrounding themselves with people gives an extrovert a brief  distraction from dealing with their own feelings of failure. 

4. "I need you to reach out to me too." 

       Outgoing people tend to be the initiators  of social contact but in times of anxiety they need their friends to reach out to them. They need a call, a note, a "Hey. Is everything okay?". One of the most overwhelming things that an outgoing + anxious friend is battling is the belief that "No one cares."

    Your outgoing and anxious friend needs YOU to be their safe person they can fall apart in front of. They need you to not question the validity of what they are going through but rather offer a hand they can hold onto.

Always your friend,

Noelle

 

    Are YOU a person who struggles with anxiety?

Listen to this podcast episode: "HOW I NAVIGATE ANXIETY + FRIENDSHIP".

Grab this FREE resource: "5 AFFIRMATIONS FOR AN ANXIOUS HEART"

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4 SIGNS YOUR FRIEND IS A SAFE PERSON TO BE VULNERABLE WITH

I am just going to lay it all out on the table here:

I was not always a safe person.

 

  • I spilled people's secrets.
  • I gossiped about friends.
  • I judged folks like a freakin' professional.

I was not always a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with until...

I realized I needed a safe person I could show my raw, bleeding heart to. 

  When I was going through a very difficult situation in my life, it become evident to me that I really didn't have someone I could be reeeeeally honest with. There was no one in my circle that I felt safe enough to expose what was going on in my life without feeling like the information I shared could be used against me. Besides, I had been hurt before.

    The problem was that the less vulnerable I was more... the more disconnected I felt from others. I knew things had to change. I needed to speak up and let someone see the real me and the mess that was going on inside.

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   So, how DO we know if our friend is a safe person to be vulnerable with?

1.  THEY AREN'T JUDGY . 

   In other words, a "safe" friend isn't always chronically expressing to you their negative opinions on how other people live their lives. 

 

"Personally, I feel like it's a little too soon for her to get married. I doubt the marriage will last."

 

  Sometimes "judgy-ness" is sugar coated with a shared concern or worse... formatted as a prayer request:

 

"Please pray for So-and-So. I am concerned she's getting remarried too soon and the marriage won't last." 

 

     

   The number one reason why we are hesitant to be vulnerable with others is because we fear we will be judged. Judgement makes us feel instantly unsafe. This is why we need non-judgemental friends in our lives. 

   If your friend is constantly judging all over the place... they probably aren't a safe person to be vulnerable with. 

 

 

2. THEY AREN'T A BIG MOUTH.

   A friend who is safe is not someone who will chronically spill to you other people's personal business. They don't feel the need to "fill you in" on someone's past so that you "can better understand"

 

"Don't tell anyone I told you this... but they had problems in their marriage before. She cheated on him with a co-worker."

 

   When a friend tells you something about another person it can make you feel like you are "on the inside" and deceptively closer to the person spilling the information. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that you are probably just one in many folks they have said "Don't tell anyone I told you this but...". A big mouth plays no favorites.

    "Safe" friends are not over-sharers about other people's lives. 

 

 

3. THEY AREN'T aLWAYS RECRUITING FOR THEIR sIDE OF THE CONFLICT.

     A friend who is safe is someone who, when in conflict with another friend, is not trying to recruit you to be on their side.

     

       "Can I just vent to you for a moment? You Know Who and I had a big fight and I just need to know that I am not the crazy one."

 

      Sometimes we DO need a third party to help us process a conflict with another person. "Venting" can be healthy and appropriate. There is a difference between venting and recruiting. Venting confides in and looks for guidance from one or two trusted friends. Recruiting is telling many friends about the conflict in hopes to gather a small army by their side.

    You'll know if your friend is "recruiting" by how many people they are "venting" to as well as what their "venting" consists of. A good question to ask is: Are they venting only about the specific conflict or are they trying to discredit the character of the other person?

    Recruiters are not a safe person to be vulnerable with because they use personal information about another to persuade others to be against them.

 

4. THEY aREN'T CONVERSATION HIJACKERS.

       A friend who is safe to be vulnerable with is someone who can be fully present with you and not always looking to turn the conversation to be about them.

      "Let me tell you story about me...

 

     Conversation hijackers  are unable to share the conversational space. They interrupt, talk over and never ask you follow up questions about what you have just shared. They are not always a safe person to be vulnerable with because they have poor listening skills and may only use your story as a platform to launch from into their next story...

    A friend who is safe will make sure you feel heard.

 

The real question we should ask ourselves is...

 

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Am I a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with?

  • Am I judgmental? Do I always have a negative comment to make about other people's lives?
  • Am I a big mouth? Do I tell my friends personal information about other people they do not need to know?
  • Am I someone who recruits others to be on my side of a conflict? When I am not getting along with someone, do I want to make sure others don't want to get a long with them either?
  • Am I conversation hijacker? Am I always trying one up my friends with a better story or do I always bring the conversation back to my life?

 

    When I ask myself these questions, I know that I have not always been a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with. As much as I need a "safe friends"... my friends need to able to find a "safe friend" in me too. 

      In order to thrive, we must feel like we can be vulnerable with someone. We have to feel like there is a safe person to tell. This is why we must both be on the look out for friends we can be vulnerable with but also intentionally become a friend that others can be vulnerable. In friendship, it's always about the give and take.

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.
— Madeline L'Engle

 

     Let's become "safe friends" for each other because, "to be alive is to be vulnerable".

Always a friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

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   Noelle Rhodes is the podcast host for the podcast show, Friending. She is writer and speaker about cultivating deep, meaningful female friendship in this modern day. You can find out more on how to book Noelle to speak at your next event or be on your podcast show here.

How To Help Your Friends Help You...

      One of favorite songs by The Beatles is, "With a Little Help From My Friends" , which was written for and sung by their beloved drummer, Ringo Starr. This is one my all time favorites because...um, hello?

    We all need a little help from our friends.

     Life can be poop. We all struggle and we all have our down days. Friends can be incredibly helpful in our hour of need...but sometimes we can make it difficult for them lend us a helping hand. 

     So, here are some practical tips on how you can help your friends help you...

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1. Remember that the majority of your friends are not mind readers. Speak up and let them know you would like their help.

     I used to make my friends play a guessing game when I found myself struggling. I would get quiet. I would withdraw. I would leave subtle clues that things may be difficult but then I would confuse them with strong statements like, "I'm. Fine."

   It took me years to realize that this tactic of trying to preserve my dignity while gaining my friends' help was useless. In fact, it would only frustrate the friendship. Instead of causing my friends to realize, "Hey...maybe Noelle needs some help" ... they were thinking things like, "Why is Noelle being so weird?"

     I wanted my friends to recognize that I was in need without ever having to admit it out loud. The best and most efficient way for friends to recognize that they can help you is to tell them so. No one is a mind reader. If talking on the phone or face to face feels too vulnerable at the moment, a text or email can do the job. In my experience, when I have text my friends to say, "I need your help", they have always been ready to give it. When I wait for them to catch on that I am in need... it wastes a lot of unnecessary time. I wind up feel hurt and neglected while they feel rejected and confused. 

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2. Give them a specific and practical way that they can help you.

     When we are going through something, our friends will often ask, "How can I help you?" Sometimes the crisis or difficulty is so overwhelming that we don't even know how to answer them. My advice is to give them the next practical and specific task that you need to address. A few examples of this could be:

Example 1:

     Your have experience a series of difficult weeks at work. You are feeling like your job might be on the line and your self esteem has taken a blow. Ask your friends to go see a movie with you to get your mind off of work issues.

Example 2:

    You are having marital difficulties. Things are really tense. You can't think of anything else but what's going on in your relationship.  Ask a friend to take your kids to the park for an hour just so you can collect your thoughts, talk to a counselor, or even go food shopping.

Example 3:

         One of your parents is very sick. You are feeling very sad and exhausted from caring for them. You have neglected your own home in the process.  Ask a friend if she could help you as you clean your house because you can use a helping hand and the company of a good friend.

   To have your needs best met by a friend, give them a clear and practical task that they can do for you. You're not being bossy. You are humbly asking for what you need. 

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3. Accept the help and don't feel guilty about it.

   The biggest issue when friends try to help us is that we won't let them. There is something about allowing a friend to offer a helping hand that stirs guilt into our heads. Don't feel guilty! One day, it will be your friend's turn and they will need your help. Your vulnerability in asking for help will have paved a guilt-free way for them to ask for help from you too. 

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   Think of Ringo singing to you right now...

   "Said I'm gonna get by with my friends, yeah (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, yes I'm gonna keep trying, now (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Keep on trying with my friends (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, I'm never gonna stop there, oh (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Gonna get by with my friends"
 

You WILL get by with a little help from your friends.

    When we communicate what we need and how they can meet it, our friends can become our greatest help. In most cases, it is not unwillingness that keeps our friends from helping... it is our lack of vulnerability. We can help our friends help us by letting them know we don't always have it altogether and that's why we need them.

 Always your friend,

Noelle

 

 

 

 

 

         

MID-THIRTIES AND FEELING BEHIND ON MY MID-TWENTIES PLAN FOR LIFE

       "I am sure others feel the same as you."  I watched her as she  pushed the half-half towards me because she knows its the only way I drink my coffee these days, "Nobody really  knows what they want to be when they grow up anymore." 

        All I could think about as she spoke, was how I should be grown up enough to drink my coffee black and I can't even do that.

   The problem is that ten years ago,  I had this adult thing all figured out. I knew everything. 

        I knew what I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. Ten years ago, I would have imagined myself living very differently than I do. In fact, "mid-twenties Noelle" would be quite surprised that "mid-thirties Noelle" doesn't have her own talk show by now - because clearly, I'd have my crap so together, everyone would want to know how to be me.

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   After having a lived a little bit of life, I feel hardly the expert or accomplished.  If anything, I feel like an adulthood drop-out who is way behind in achieving my mid-twenties plan.

     The American Dream is a quiet and judgmental presence that sits at your table with her arms crossed and a disapproving look upon her face. Like a great-aunt who questions your life choices at every family gathering, the American Dream leans in to you just at your most vulnerable moment and says, "So, what are you actually  planning to do with your life? Cause' clearly this isn't cutting it." One by one, she highlights the failures:

 Don't own your own house?     Slacker.

Drive a car older than five years?    Deadbeat.

No graduate degrees?    Dropout. 

Less than a thousand Insta followers?   Nobody.

Don't have a career that you love and are making six figures from?    Disappointment.

Do any of these things really matter? No. Well, at least that's what we say... but I suspect that we have secretly made these the markers of how we self-grade our lives. And some of us feel like we are failing. Our mid-twenties selves would be disappointed with our mid-thirties selves and there can be a lot of shame wrapped up in that. We are wandering towards our forties mumbling to those around us, "Wait! I don't know what to do with my life! I'm behind!" 

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   "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" my friend asked as she offered me a spoon to stir my coffee.

  "I don't know. Betty White?" I answered, "Or maybe the Queen of England."

 "Don't we all?" she laughed and then took a tiny sip of her pour over. "But what if we just grow up to be decent and lovely human beings? Will that be enough?"

  I thought about it for a moment. If my life never achieves my  "mid-twenties life-plan", will I be okay with becoming a decent and lovely human being... and nothing more? 

   "Maybe, " I said. "but pass me the half and half again. I can't drink this coffee so strong."


ABOUT NOELLE

   Noelle is a    speaker  , podcaster, and an everyday encourager .   She is the podcast producer/host for   Friending Podcast   and is a regular co-host for the podcast,   Slices of Life  . She lives in North Jersey with her    husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.         For more random facts on Noelle you can    click here    or stalk her on   Instagram  .

  Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and an everyday encourager She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her  husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

       For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

 

  

 

 

THE HEALING POWER OF LETTING OTHERS HELP YOU.

       I'm sitting in Panera's right now... crying like a baby. In between sipping my free-refill dark roast coffee and trying to wipe the snot from my face ... I am writing to you. Weeping like a fool.

Here's the thing:

The last 60 days were the worst.

Like the worst.

         Those of you who know me or know of me, may be curious as to "what is going in Noelle's life?" but the details are not all mine to own and I'll need you to understand that. 

But a lot went down.

       And I had to temporarily step back from a few things I love (like the Friending Podcast) to tend to the people I love the most...my family. It was hard to do but it was the right thing to do so I did it. I'm still doing it. 

  In the midst of going through a season that was already terrible, our hearing impaired son's hearing aid broke. It was having problems for a while since it wasn't really suited to support all the special equipment he uses in school (such as an FM system and Roger Mic). Intially, I didn't panic because we had nearly met our son's deductible due to all the appointments he has throughout the year regarding his hearing. I thought, "Surely, our insurance will cover some of the cost of getting him hearing aids that will be strong enough for what he needs them for." 

     To make a very long story short - I was wrong.

    This news broke me. Hearing aids are incredibly expensive and I knew we did not have the money to pay for them. I felt like we had failed our son as his parents. I felt like I had failed in life in general and I was already having a terrible 60 days. I cried and cried and called my closest friends and cried to them.

     I was such in a bad way, my sister-in-law, Jenna, showed up at my house with three cupcakes and said, "I want to start a Go Fund Me to help raise money for Silas' hearing aids."

        I told her "thank you for the cupcakes but no thank you to the Go Fund Me. I can't ask people to help us."   After having been a missionary for 6 years, where we relied on the monthly financial support of others, I couldn't muster up any strength to ask for help. I just cried and ate cupcakes. But my sister-in-law persisted and said, "I want to do this for you."

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    And she did.

     Within an hour of her posting the Go Fund Me, $2000.00 were raised!  I didn't believe her until I checked the link she sent me. Over the next week, more and more people from all over the world began to donate money and share the post. This morning while sitting in Panera's , I received a phone call to tell me that nearly $5000 have been raised to help pay for the hearing aids Silas needs. 

Hence, why I am crying.

   Because there is a healing power that comes when we let others help us. It takes a lot of vulnerability and courage to say, "I can't do this on my own. Can someone help me?" Sometimes we don't even have the strength to say that - the shame is too heavy. We need to let our friends help carry the burden when they see us struggling and say,

"Hey! This is too heavy for you to hold on your own! Move over! I am helping!"

   Yes, these last 60 days were pretty terrible but as I have seen the generosity and genuine care of others (even strangers) come to help us, I have begun to remember what hope feels like again... healing is taking place... and I am learning that:

   Letting others help in times of need is not admitting failure as a human... it's admitting that you are simply human. Period.

We are not created to do life on our own. We need each other. 

   Many thanks to all of you who have donated to help us Silas' getting new hearing aids.  I am humbled by your heart to care for Silas this way. I don't have the words to express my gratitude at this moment. Even as I type these final words, I can sense the ugly crying coming on. So, I'll need to save my words of appreciation for when I am writing in the privacy of my home. But until then,  please know... Troy, Olive, myself and of course, Silas:

Thank you.

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    And to you, dear friend, who is also having a season of pain, shame, and terribleness:

Let those offering, help you.

You and I can't do this alone. We need our people to help us. We do.

Your friend,

Noelle


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOUR FRIEND LOSES A BABY

      Several years ago, my friend lost a baby.

     I remember when her husband called me. His voice pushed through as he choked by the tears, 

"There was no heart beat."

     I didn't know what to do. I had no idea of what to say. I was terrified to do or say anything that would cause my friend more pain than what she was already having to deal with. So, I did nothing.

All I could offer her was a vague email to say, "If you need anything, call me."

   Her husband called me  and said, "Do you think you could come see her?" 

   I was hesitant.  "Are you sure?"  Miscarriages often feel like it a "private" matter. I assumed my friend wanted privacy as she grieved. Her husband pleaded, 

              "Please, Noelle. I don't want her to be alone."

 So, I went.

         I called my mother, who had lost baby in utero when she was six months pregnant (with my brother, Jonah, who would be 23 this October if he was alive). I asked my mother for advice for how I can be there for my friend. She said in her beautiful,thick Jersey accent,

"Everyone grieves differently but everyone wants to know that someone cares. Show her you care."

     

 It was the best advice that anyone could give me.

   

   Sadly, a few of my dear friends have lost babies over the last 15 years. My mother was right - each of them have grieved their losses differently - but each one wanted to know that I cared.

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 Here are 3 Things To Remember When Your Friend Loses A Baby:

 

1. A baby is a baby.

      Some of my friends have lost their babies days after founding out they were pregnant. Some of my friends have lost their babies in their third trimester. Although these experiences are different, a baby is a baby. They have lost a baby no matter how far along they are in their pregnancy. 

    Once a  friend confided in me, "Sometimes I feel ashamed that I am so sad. I know was only 5 weeks pregnant, but I already had names picked out. I had dreams and hopes for my baby."

    A baby is a baby.

I stopped saying, "I am sorry you miscarried." I have started saying, "I am sorry that you lost your sweet baby." Sometimes I will ask my friend, "What is your baby's name?" If they have a name picked out, I will use the name as I refer to the loss. It is important to affirm the validity of our friend's grief - they are, in fact, actually grieving the loss of baby

 

2. a new Pregnancy doesn't mean the grief is over.

    I have made the mistake of assuming that my friend is "done grieving" the loss of her baby because she gets pregnant again. This is not true and I have found that some of my friends have struggled with real anxiety during their subsequent pregnancy after the loss of a baby. They are fearful that they will loss this baby as well. Some of my friends have felt like they couldn't celebrate their new pregnancy in fear of something bad happening or because they feel it will take away from mourning the baby who had died. 

     My mother who had two children after the loss of her son (my brother), Jonah, still tears up when she talks about holding his lifeless body in her arms. This was 23 years ago. It is important to not assume that "everything is okay now" because our friend is pregnant again. She still needs the support of a friend who will walk closely with her as she carries this new baby.

 

3.  an Invitation is more  helpful than information.

      When tragedy happens, it is our natural inclination to want to offer an explanation of "why it happened" and "how it can be prevented in the future". I have found that this not helpful. My friends who have lost their babies have told me how they have had to wade through unexplained guilt and inevitable fears for the future as they grieve. Information from a "well meaning" friend can feel too heavy of burden to carry on top of everything else. 

    Instead of offering our friends "information", we have an opportunity to offer our grieving friends an invitation to

  • talk openly about the loss in the presence of a safe and listening friend
  • go out for coffee or to the movies to be distracted for a brief time
  • ask for a set of helpful hands to tend to house chores and other day-to-day tasks (such as: food shopping, yard work, child care, etc.)
  • be encouraged each day for set a time with a regular text or phone call ("I'm thinking of you. How are you feeling today?")
  • remember together the baby that was hoped for with cards and gifts with the baby's name on it
  • and much more.

 

       When a friend loses a baby, she needs a friend.

And you are it. You are the friend. You don't have to have a counseling degree or even have experienced this particular kind of loss to show her that you care. All you need to do is take a step towards her and let her know that she is not alone.

 

   For more on what to do when your friend loses a baby, listen to Episode 27 of Friending Podcast.

 

Until next time,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

 

 Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor. (Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

   

 

REDEEMING TRAGEDY IS NOT MY JOB.

"God must have someone better for you."

      I wish I had never spoken these shallow words to a friend whose husband had just left her and her children for another woman. I could kick myself in the stomach for being so insensitive. If I could go back in time, I would. I can still hear how her voice cracked when she mustered up what strength she had left to answer me, "I do not want someone better. I want my husband".

      It was not my job to redeem my friend's tragedy by offering her a reason for it. But this is what we do, isn't it? This is what we offer to the friend who undeservingly suffers pain. Their brokenness makes us feel uneasy and so we attempt to fix it with a cheap imitation of redemption.

    We are not called to be redeemers. There is only One who can redeem. We are, however, called to be carriers.

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

 

     We are called to help carry the burden of the tragedy. What does this look like? It means that we walk at the pace, shoulder to shoulder, with the friend who has suffered the tragedy. A friend has lost their baby. After a few months, she mentions to you that she is ready to take down the crib. You do not question her timing. You do not say, "Don't you want to leave the crib in case you get pregnant again?" You simply reach out your hand and say, "Would you like my help?"

Many times I get an emails or text messages asking,  "My friend has gone through a tragedy. What should I do?"

I almost always answer back, "Mourn with her."

 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

 

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We are not asked to be redeemers. We are asked to be mourners.

      What does mourning with a friend look like? It looks like when you are out to dinner with her. She begins to cry about missing her husband who has left her. You do not say, "He is not worth your tears," or "Soon you will meet someone so much better".  Instead of speaking, you listen to her. You offer her your napkin to wipe away her tears and you do not hold back your own.

 

It is not our job to be the redeemers of our friends'  tragedy.

 

It is our job to carry the burden of the tragedy.

It is our job to mourn the pain of the tragedy.

And we can do this.

 

Your friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

    Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

HOW TO HELP A FRIEND WHEN SHE HAS LOST HERSELF

   I could tell she had been crying.

           "I'm sorry to call you so late, but I needed to talk to someone."

     The woman on the other line of the phone was a friend who has been going through a particularly busy season of her life. To say that she was "under pressure" was an understatement.

" I just feel..." her voice began to crack as her throat choked back the tears, "I just feel like I have lost myself."

     My intelligent, creative, and beautiful friend was drowning in a special kind of despair that only "busyness" can bring. She was asking me to throw her a life preserver.

    Women today are busy. We just are. If we are working full-time, we are busy. If we are at home with kids, we are busy. You would be hard pressed to find a lazy, lounging woman hanging around doing nothing.

      In addition, women can experience several severe "Season of Life" changes. In one year a woman can go from being high-powered CEO to a stay-at-home mommy with an infant. In the same way, within months a woman can go from schlepping teenage children around to their soccer practices to having an empty nest. Women are the ones that typically care for their aging parents. There are a lot of life changes women experience and it's easy for one to lose herself along they way.

So, how can YOU help?

1. Notice.

   Does your friend seem distant from the things she once to loved to do? Has she stopped writing music, baking macarons, running marathons, arranging floral pieces, or anything else that once brought her joy and excitement? There is a difference between being busy and being disconnected. Busyness depletes time. Disconnectedness depletes joy.

 

2. Remind.

      It is easy to lose ourselves when we are constantly giving ourselves to others (work, motherhood, parents, church, etc.) A good friend will remind us of who we are and what are good at. Recently, a friend wrote an email to her boss and she asked me to proofread it. She is an exceptional writer and although it was a work email, I was prompted to remind her that she is a talented writer and gifted with communicating hard things with soft words. It is our job as friends to be the excellent detectives in uncovering the evidence of who are friends are.  If a friend saying, "I don't know who I am anymore," we can be the voice that reminds of the song the use to sing.

 

3. Interrupt.

       If our friend is feeling lost, it may be our cue to interrupt her daily pattern with an activity that will reset her soul. If she loves music, take her to a concert. If she is a foodie, take her to the new restaurant in town. If she is inspired by art, kidnap her and bring her to a museum. She needs you to be the one that interrupts her thoughts of "lostness" by bringing her to a place that will give her soul space to breathe. The truth she is, she most likely will not give herself the permission to reset her soul. She needs you to do that for her. I would like to add that sometimes, a simple activity that connects a friend to one of her central joys can be the most spiritual acts of service we can do for her. We need to recognize that God has created her with passions, personality, and desires. If she is feeling lost, we can help pave the way back to herself and ultimately, Him.

 

         Who is the female friend in your life who seems frazzled and disconnected from who she once was? Who seems like she is lost herself in a season of life that is drained her of joy? Do not be tempted to "mind your own business" but instead, move towards her with empathy and encouragement. Take up the holy responsibility of pointing out to her who she is and what she is good at. Interrupt her thoughts of "losing herself" by bringing her to a place where can connect to her central joy again. Be willing to pay the bill, make the plans, drive to the destination, and create space for her to remember her joy.

 

This is what we do for our friends. We don't let feel like their alone but rather, we tighten our cords of friendship and once again say,

“I am here with you.”

Your friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

    Noelle is a researcher,   speaker  , and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for   Friending Podcast   and is a regular co-host for the podcast,   Slices of Life  . She lives in North Jersey with her  hot  husband and two  wild  children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.        Noelle is passionate about helping  women   empower women through the art of friendship .     For more random facts on Noelle you can    click here    or stalk her on   Instagram  .

   Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.