As caring people and doers of good deeds, we tend to feel the burden of making huge gestures or speaking eloquently to lift our friends out of their doldrums, pain or heartaches. We focus on the result — that is, making the other person feel encouraged, helping them make the right decision or offering insight into their problems.

What’s wrong with such desires?


Our attitude speaks of our desire to stretch our arms toward a hurting person. However, desire and wisdom aren’t always compatible. I may want to pull her out of depression or get him to start an exercise program. That’s an excellent intention.

But that’s not enough until we apply wisdom. We’re zealous to fix others — which is both kind and noble. We may struggle intensely to do exactly the right thing or trouble ourselves over precisely the right way to say something.

I suggest something less complicated. If we’re convinced we care about the person (and not only the result), here it is: Follow your heart.

I hesitated to write those three words because too many people feel that gives them permission to throw clichéd statements, quote the Bible or overwhelm others with exhortation.

Before we take any action or say anything, let’s ask ourselves: If the situation were reversed, how would I respond? Would I want someone to say, “I’m telling you this for your own good?” Would I rejoice if a friend tried to pull me out of my depression by saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always?”

Probably not.

I’ve shed the need to be the great rescuer of souls. I simply want to do what little I can for others. I’ve learned that when I express my compassion, even with no answers (or perhaps especially with no answers), I generally connect. 

Here’s a straightforward response: “I don’t know, but I care about you.” (Of course we have to mean those words.)

Something happens. When we speak from the heart — from compassionate caring — most of the time we connect. Our friends know when we speak lovingly.

It takes so little to help others know we care.

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