Move Toward the Mess: Hugs, Hand-Holding, and Hope

Sometimes, moving toward the mess simply means coming alongside a loved one as they slog through the hard stuff of life. We don’t always have to create great and grandiose ways to share the gospel. Hugs, hand-holding, and Hope may be all we need to help the hurting. And sometimes, that’s all I have to offer.

Hugs, hand-holding, and Hope may be all we need to help the hurting. #movetowardthemess Click To Tweet

Hugs, Hand-Holding, and Hope

Moving toward the mess might just mean holding the hand of another or lending a shoulder to cry on. It might be enough to simply acknowledge their pain and suffering are real and awful, that you see them, and love them. Hugs and Hand-Holding may not seem like a monumental contribution, but chances are the physical presence required to share them will bring more hope to the hurting, than we can imagine. 

That’s right where I am today.

And I’ll be honest, it’s a little scary. My mother’s cousin died earlier this week. While I doubt anybody actually enjoys funerals, I’m pretty sure they give me more anxiety than most. My palms get clammy while my mouth feels like it’s full of cotton balls as I think about encountering the grieving. I could have made several logical and reasonable excuses about why I couldn’t go. But one thing halted my hesitation and had me packing my bags for the trip to Buffalo, NY.

My love for this incredible man’s family. (find out why that’s so important in last week’s post here.)

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. The last thing I want to do is make this any messier for those closest to Bob as they grieve, so I’m boning up on some great advice from my dear friend Dr. Michelle Bengtson. She has been through more than her fair share of painful experiences and offers up some incredible wisdom about how to minister to loved ones as they move through messes. If her personal experience doesn’t convince you to click through and read for yourself, she’s also a neuropsychologist so she “gets” how the brain works.

Be The One

One of the greatest dangers of going through a mess is feeling alone and isolated. But we have the power to change that. Simply listening can keep a loved one from lingering too long in loneliness. In this post she offers some encouragment and practical tips for coming alongside the hurting. Because people are in pain all around us and God calls us to bring His help and hope to others, just as we’ve received it ourselves. Are you willing to be the one? Be The One by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Sit With the Broken

In this post she talks about the importance of simply sitting with the broken. Too many times I’ve let my anxiety about saying the wrong thing keep my from showing up for those I love. Her words encourage me to hand my worries about what to say over the Holy Spirit and just work on being there with the hurting. Sit With The Broken by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

20 Practical Ideas

I’m a pretty practical gal, so I like tangible things I can do in times of need. Unfortunately, they don’t alway seem to come naturally to me. So, I’m thrilled that she has a list in this post to prompt those of us who struggle with taking action when our loved ones face messy situations. 20 Practical Ways to Help a Friend in Need by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

What Not to Say

Perhaps my favorite piece of advice she offers is what NOT to say to the hurting. We toss about so many cliche phrases when we don’t know what to say in certain situations, but too often they can cause more pain and anguish. In this post, she shares the worst things we can utter and offers up some more supportive alternatives. What Not to Say by Dr. Michelle Bengtson 

Great advice and encouragement from @DrMBengtson to #movetowardthemess. Click To Tweet

I may not have much to offer by I pray my hugs and hand holding over the next couple of days will bring hope to my hurting cousins as they walk through the mess of grief. When someone you love is struggling, whether it be grief, anxiety, depression, sin, illness, divorce, or any other host of painful experiences, don’t be afraid to move toward their mess to share God’s hope!

I hope these three great posts by Dr. Michelle Bengtson give you some tools and encouragment to minister to those in messes. Do you have any great advice to share for those who wish to come alongside the hurting?


Move Toward the Mess Posts:

Wisely Investing Our Worth

Identity Influences Investment

Prison Ministry with Carmen Horne

Racial Reconciliation with Kathie Harris

Pregnancy Resources Center with Martha Merritt

Possibilities Not Practicalities


Hugs, Hand-Holding, and Hope


Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerThought Provoking ThursdaySusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridayGrace and Truth FridayGood Morning MondaySoul SurvivalMonday MusingsRah Rah Link UpTell His StoryWoman to Woman WednesdayWomen With Intention WednesdaySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.

6 thoughts on “Move Toward the Mess: Hugs, Hand-Holding, and Hope

  1. Thanks, Liz. God is with you and the whole family as you mourn and stand together at this sad time. I will be keeping everyone in prayer. Deepest sympathy. May our Lord give comfort and hope through Jesus and the cross… forever….xo

  2. Great points! I love how you said we need to be there for people. I know sometimes I can get so caught up in my life that I forget other people’s needs.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your family member passing away. It’s great you were able to be ther for your mom. Just taking the time to be there and support means the world to people. It’s those gestures of love that make a big difference.

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart during this grieving time. I pray for peace and grace during this time of grieving. And thanks for sharing all these tips from Dr. Bengtson. The one I struggle with the most is just being with the person grieving. At times I think I underestimate the power that my presence has for those hurting. Thanks again!

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