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5 Ways That Love Stays When Everyone Leaves

  • Adam Weber Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 24 Aug
hand holding red knit love heart at sunset

I never cease to be amazed by how many Facebook friends we can have and yet many of us feel like we don’t have one friend we can call when we’re struggling. Not one person we can sit with when we’re hurting. Not one person to keep us on the right path when we’re being tempted.

Not one person who stays when we make a mistake.

In any person's life, there are rock bottom moments. Whether it's a poor decision, a failure, a job loss, or even a death. A lot of times in those situations, the people around us seem to leave or disappear altogether. They don't want to be associated with us, they don't know what to say, or maybe they even choose to gossip about us.

Has that ever happened to you? I know it’s happened to me.

But love is different.

Love sticks it out. Love reaches out. Love moves in closer.

Love chooses to stay when everyone else leaves.

It’s easy to love others when life is easy. But it’s much more difficult when you don’t know what to say or how to help another person through their situation. Staying can look different in each relationship, but I’ve found that a love that stays requires a few things from us:

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couple having serious conversation

1. Having Hard Conversations

Staying with people means having the hard conversations. We typically run from anything that’s difficult. But staying with someone and loving them in a difficult season will require a lot of difficult conversations.

I know in my own life, this has been a personal challenge for me.

We need to have that hard conversation?

I’d rather just talk about how the Bengals are looking in the pre-season.

Or, I'd rather chat about the weather. Or Justin Bieber.

Really anything to avoid having to talk about something hard that might hurt your feelings.

But especially when those around you are walking through a difficult season or situation, we have to have those hard conversations, even if it means forcing ourselves to just start talking (and not about Justin Bieber).

Ask the hard questions. Have the awkward conversations. And don’t leave!

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woman and man couple holding hands sitting talking looking serious, how to respond to spouse doubts

2. Listening

While having hard conversations is super-important to practicing a love that stays, listening is also equally (if not more) important. When I walked through a really hard season a few summers ago, I had two specific friends who did pretty much nothing but listen to me during those weeks and months.

Each time I called, they answered.

Each time I needed someone to listen, they listened.

They let me share whatever was inside me and didn’t judge.

Side note: the fact that these two friends simply listened and didn’t pass judgment was a huge part of this kind of love. There’s a time and place to give advice and come to our own conclusions (see having hard conversations), but listening is not one of those times.

This will be harder for some of us than others, but listening is just that: turning our mouths off and turning our ears (and hearts) on for the other person. It might sound passive, but I promise you—listening is just as much a part of practicing a love that stays as giving advice and talking is. Sometimes when we’re hurting, we just really need someone there to listen. I know I’ve needed that.

My two friends that listened are the kind of people we need to be when those closest to us are walking through something hard.

Have conversations, yes, but also listen, listen, and listen.

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woman with glasses in coffee shop praying

3. Praying

Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do for someone, particularly in a hard season. All you can do is pray and get through it.

As Christians, we like to say “I’m praying for you” when someone is walking through a tough season. It’s an easy thing to say, it sounds nice, but the challenge comes in actually doing the praying, not just saying the words.

So, pray for the person regularly. Pray for them in person. Pray for them when they come to mind. Pray, pray, and pray some more.

Set a reminder on your phone or write their name down on a sticky note where you won’t miss it—whatever you have to do to remember to pray and then actually do it—but don’t forget to pray for them.

Stand with them. Privately and publicly. Stick your neck out for them.

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4. Encouraging

4. Encouraging

One of the greatest gifts we can offer another person is encouragement. Help the person see beyond today. Today might suck but it will get better. When others have no hope, give them hope.

Encouragement can come in all shapes and sizes, too!

A note stuck on their windshield after work.

Flowers delivered to their house.

A text on a hard day.

An example from your own life of going through something similar and coming out the other side.

It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, simply encourage the other person in a way that you know will lift them up and point them towards a brighter tomorrow.

Side note: with Jesus, we always have hope! Look to him. Point others to him. There is always hope with Jesus.

Tomorrow, the sun will come up!

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group of diverse adult friends group hug praying

5. Helping Others Take the Next Step

Finally, if at all possible, help the other person take their next step. We might not be able to solve everything, but we can help someone take the next step.

Give them the contact info for Christian counselors in your area.

Check in on them weekly or daily.

Be there when they sign the papers.

Pack up the moving boxes.

Show up and help them through that difficult season, see what the next step is, and help them take it.

These aren’t easy things to do (far from it!), but each is a key ingredient to practicing a love that stays with people no matter what they’re going through.

Staying is hard. Leaving is way easier, and we all know it. But speaking from experience, there’s nothing like having people in your life who stay, who love with that kind of love. And really, there’s nothing like loving other people like that, too.

Real love is just there. It doesn’t back away when things get hard. In fact, it works harder, doing whatever it takes, dragging us through to hope...no matter how thick the crowd, how hard the decision.

Love stays.

Recommended for You:

Ways Christians Can 'Love One Another Well' Today

10 Habits Christians Should Practice to Love One Another

How to Serve One Another with Love without Getting Burnt Out

5 Beautiful Prayers for a Friend Who Is Grieving

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Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a multi-site church based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s the author of Talking With God, and Love Has A Name: Learning to Love the Different, the Difficult, and Everyone Else (WaterBrook, available 8/25/20). He also hosts a podcast called The Conversation with Adam Weber. Adam still cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals but no longer drives a Rambler. He’s married to his wife, Becky, and has four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson, & Anderson. He also has seven chickens, two dogs, & three fish, but what he really wants is a sheep. Follow Adam on Instagram (@adamaweber) and Twitter (@adamweber), or find out more at adamweber.com.



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