Helping Someone When You’ve Never Been in Their Situation

Big Yellow Umbrella Card by DaySpring

I often get notes from people saying something like, “My friend/family member is going through a hard time but I don’t feel like I can help because I haven’t been through the same thing.” Here’s my response: “You don’t have to experience the same storm to know what it’s like to get wet.”

I’m certain you know what it’s like to feel soaked to the bone by discouragement, have fear thundering above you or watch a dream wash away. Don’t we all? It’s not our ability to duplicate details but to relate on a heart level that lets us have empathy and be able to encourage.

I once wrote a card for DaySpring that says:

I wish I had a big, yellow umbrella that would keep all the rain out of your life.

I would hold it over your head and the drops would splash, splash and you would never even feel it.

But I don’t have a big yellow umbrella, so I’ll walk through the rain with you.

When it comes to living that out, here are three ways you can walk through the rain with someone no matter what storm they’re facing:

1) Simply listen. When I did grief support groups I heard people say over and over again, “It was so comforting when someone just let me talk and cried with me.” When we’re hurting, what we need most isn’t answers; it’s to know we’re not alone.

2) Be a safe place. When someone shares their struggles with us, we’re to treat them with care like precious treasures. After all, it seems that’s what God does. “Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” {Ps. 56:8}. These three C’s can help us remember how to do so: Never criticize or condemn. Always keep it confidential.

3) Don’t try to fix it. When I got a masters degree in counseling we were told over and over, avoid giving advice. We empower people most when we trust them to figure out their own lives with God’s help. We are simply there to be an encouragement and sounding board.

Ironically, the need to prove we’re useful can push us to talk too much and try too hard. When we feel that pressure, we can take a deep breath and remember we don’t have to be anyone’s God, Jesus or Holy Spirit. It’s not within our power to resolve the problem, change the circumstance or even make the pain go away. In other words, we can’t make the sun come out again.

That reality doesn’t mean we’re a failure. It simply means we’re not God.

So what is success when it comes to helping others in our lives? After hearing from thousands of hurting people I’ve come to believe it’s simply this: Having the courage to step into the rain–even if it’s not our storm.


Holley Gerth

p.s. Have you seen my gift book for rainy days yet? Under God’s Umbrella: Gifts of Hope & Encouragement to Shelter Your Heart in Life’s Storms

p.p.s. My friend Jennifer is launching her brand new site {StudioJRU}, full of gorgeous prints and home decor. This one would be a sweet gift to a hurting friend. {Use the code newshop! for 20% off your purchase!}

Under God's Umbrella by Holley Gerth


Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to to see all the fun and join in too.

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I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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